El Morro National Monument
Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument
El Morro National Monument protects an area surrounding a large sandstone bluff that has been inhabited by ancient Pueblo Indians and used by many Spanish, Anglo and Native American travelers to record their visits on the sandstone walls (more than 2,000 pre-historic petroglyphs and post-Columbian inscriptions recording signatures, dates and even messages for following travelers). While the bluffs are spectacular, most visitors came because of the waterfalls and reliable pool of water found at the foot of the rock.
Today, there is a paved 1/2 mile trail leading from the parking area to the pool.
If you have time to explore, the 2-mile trail (includes the journey to the pool and past the inscriptions) to the top of the sandstone bluffs (250 feet of elevation gain) is well worth the hike for the views alone, never mind the chance to visit the remains of Atsinna, an 850-room pueblo that was occupied by up to 1,500 people from about 1275 CE to about 1350 CE.
A Spanish inscription from 1709
Another Spanish inscription, from 1629
The view from the top
Looking into the box canyon from the top of the mesa
Another view into the box canyon
Ruins of Atsinna Pueblo, on top of the El Morro rock
El Morro National Monument location map