NM – El Morro . . . a monument of surprises

What happens when your friend works at a National Monument? Why you go visit of course! Joan aka Hemlock provided the impetus to include New Mexico in my early spring travels. Who wouldn’t want a personal tour guide?

El Morro in Spanish means “the headland” or “the bluff.”

At first glance it easy to be impressed by the towering rock, but wait . . . there are surprises within this giant rock formation. For example note the dark concave vertical spot on the back wall in this photo. 

It’s the spillway that feeds the 12′ deep, 200,000 gallon pool shown in the below photo. Protected in the shade of the bluff and  dependent on rain and snow melt, this water source has been used by travelers since the days of Ancestral Puebloans. Surprisingly it seems to remain clear and free of algae and other floaties.

The sandstone contains over 2000 inscriptions and petroglyphs left by travelers dating back several centuries. Federal law prohibited further carving in 1906. It’s a thought provoking debate. When does graffiti become historical and of archaeological significance? The stories available as a result of these markings are fascinating. El Morro has done an outstanding job making the information available to modern day visitors.

Another hidden treasure was this nearly fully enclosed natural corral. I could see it as a daycare center. 

I loved the way these stairways enhanced and protected the sandstone. Capstones on sandstone formations depict age much like tree rings. 

Atsinna was the cherry of all surprises, a pueblo of over 800 rooms, population 1000-1500. 

Date(s) Hiked: March 10, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #20 out of 88




6 thoughts on “NM – El Morro . . . a monument of surprises

  1. I visited here on my way north on the Continental Divide Trail (yet to be created) back in 1980. I really appreciated the realization that the original Spanish explorers of North America visited this site for water just as I was!

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