El Morro National Monument
Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
253Trip End Dec 31, 2014
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El Morro is located 42 miles south of Interstate 40 and you have to travel through the western side of El Malpais to get to it. El Morro itself is a cuesta, a long formation gently sloping upward and then dropping off abruptly at one end. It is made up of sandstone layers the were deposited by wind, desert streams and an ancient sea. Travelers have long relied on El Morro's source of water, which is a pool of runoff and snowmelt. They have rested in the shade of the bluff and left messages carved in the rock. These messages date back hundreds of years and end in 1906 when El Morro was made a National Monument.
The park contains a visitor center along with a paved 1/2 mile trail along the bluff. The staff have a brochure that they loan out which explains several of the inscriptions - there are over 2,000 of them. There is a longer trail that goes to the top of El Morro to the Atsinna Pueblo. This pueblo was unearthed by archeologists in the 1950's. It is believed that it was abandoned around 1400 when it's occupants moved to larger villages in the Zuni Valley. The Zuni people still live in western New Mexico.
El Morro is truly a magical place. As you walk the trails and take in the various inscriptions it is easy to picture the people who carved their names in the rock. Be it an Ancestral Puebloan from the 1400's to a Spanish Conquistador in the 1600's to a member of a wagon train in the 1840's. They have all, literally, left their mark!
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