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El Morro National Monument

National Park or Monument
El Morro Bluff upon which more than 2000 historic inscriptions and prehistoric petroglyphs are carved in the sandstone –

The Zuni Indians call it "A'ts'ina" (place of writings on the rock), the Spaniard conquistadors called it "El Morro" (The Headland), and the American pioneers called it "Inscription Rock". El Morro National Monument is a fascinating mixture of both human and natural history. Rising 200 feet above the valley floor, this massive sandstone bluff was a welcome landmark for weary travelers. A reliable waterhole hidden at its base made El Morro (or Inscription Rock) a popular campsite. While travelers rested in its shade and drank from the pool, many carved their signatures, pictures, dates, and messages in the soft sandstrone cliff. Today over 2000 inscriptions and petroglpyphs are visible.

Prehistoric Puebloan Indians were the first to discover the oasis pool hidden at its base. Between 1275 and 1350 they constructed an 875 room village fortress high atop the bluff, where at least 1500 people lived. Then after only 75 years they abandoned their village for unknown reasons. Atsinna Pueblo is larger than the better know pueblo ruins at Chaco Canyon.

At the Visitor Center rangers are available to answer your questions and orient you to the facilities and self guiding trails.

Area Information -- In addition to the campground inside the Monument, there is a campground and cafe 1 miles east of the monument entrance, in the village of El Morro. Other motels and campgrounds are located in Zuni, Grants, and Gallup. For information call the Grants Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-748-2142 or the Gallup Convention and Visitor Bureau 1-800-242-4282.

Recreational Opportunities

Self-Guiding Trails - Two self guiding trails are available. Inscription Trails is a 1/2 mile round trip walk on a paved surface. The trail begins at the Visitor Center and takes you to Inscription Rock where you can see petroglyphs, old Spanish messages, and 1800s autographs. The Mesa Top Trail is a 2-mile round trip hike from the Visitor Center across varied terrain. It begins at Inscription Rock and continues to the Anasazi ruins above. This trail focuses on the geology and archeology of the area. A 200-foot climb and the uneven sandstone surface make this a more strenuous hike. Sturdy walking shoes and water are necessary.

Museum -- Exhibits located in the Visitor Center span 700 years of human history. A video program provides an introduction to the area.

Picnicking -- Picnic tables are located near the Visitor Center.

Camping -- A 9-site primitive campground operates all year on a first-come, first-served basis. A fee is charged. Water is available at the campground May through October.


Seasons Accessible

Trails are open daily 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. the remainder of the year. Trails may be closed due to severe weather conditions.


There is a $3 entrance fee for every individual 16 and over. Children under 16 are free. Your entrance fee receipt is valid at El Morro National Monument for seven days after the date of purchase.

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