. . . . . .
SouthwestUS logo
Photo of Southwestern USA
Info | Destinations | Photos | Resources | Home

See more photos

El Morro National Monument
El Morro means "the headland," and refers to an ancient landmark which is famous for its inscriptions and ruins.Many Spaniards passed through the American Southwest region looking for gold, fame, the Seven Cities of Cibola, and other wonders and riches to conquer and plunder. Many of their names are also inscribed here. El Morro National Monument is located in Northwestern New Mexico.

The oldest Spanish inscription dates to 1605. It reads: "Paso por aqui el adelantado Don Juan de Oñate del descubrimiento de la mar del sur a 16 de Abril de 1605." In English, this translates to: "Passed by here the Governor Don Juan de Oñate from the discovery of the Sea of the South the 16th of April of 1605." The adelantado was considered the individual with the highest military, political, and judicial powers at the time of the Spanish conquest. This inscription is roughly 400 years old.

Another famous inscription is from Don Diego de Vargas. This inscription is important due to the history of the site. The inscription reads "Aquí estuvo de general Don Diego de Vargas, quien conquisto a nuestra Santa Fe y a la Real Corona todo el Nuevo Mexico a su costa, Año de 1692." Translated this reads "Here was General Don Diego de Vargas who conquered for our Holy Faith, and the Royal Crown, all of New Mexico at his own cost/expense year of 1692." This is an impressive statement considering that fact that approximately twelve years prior (1680,) the Pueblo Revolt took place and the Spaniards were driven from the area. The Spaniards that survived fled to El Paso. In 1692, de Vargas returned to establish control over the pueblos. The Spanish were able to avoid conflict with the Zuni on this occasion. The Zuni however kept their defensive position on Dowa Yalanne, a mesa, until 1699 when they felt safe from Spanish retaliation.

The Spaniards were never able to really convert the Pueblos; instead they were pretty much just barely tolerated by the Zuni and Hopi. The Zuni seemed to use the Spaniards when they needed them to join an alliance against the Apaches and the Navajo. This while Spanish records mention the Zuni took place in the Pueblo Revolt (1680).

El Morro contains many inscriptions. Many of these date to the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s. The petroglyphs are the oldest "inscriptions" and are estimated to be 700-800 years old.

There are two trails in the park. The first is the Inscription Rock Loop trail. The second is the Mesa Top Loop trail. The Inscription Rock trail contains the famous "signatures and dates" that El Morro is famous for. It is 1/2 of a mile round-trip and includes the pool of water. The Mesa Top Loop trail is two miles round trip and goes to the top of the mesa. Here visitors will see the remnants of two ancient Anasazi pueblos. The larger of the two, A'ts'ina, was excavated in the 1950's. The other (smaller of the two) has yet to be excavated. Please stay on the trail, the mesa top has cliffs that drop off for 200+ ft.

Atsinna Ruin contains a square kiva. The ruin is believed to have been two to three stories in height and the size of a small city block. It was inhabited by the Anasazi and commanded quite a view. The park is located in the high deserts of the Southwest at an elevation of 6,000-7,500 ft. The mesa itself and the ruins are at approximately 7,500 ft. The visitors center is 7,218 ft.

Location: Northwestern New Mexico. Along US 53, approximately 2.5 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico. From Grants, New Mexico go southwest on highway 53 for approximately 43 miles. Follow the signs when you get into the area. By todays standards it is a bit out of the way. Anciently it was a major thoroughfare, in part as it contained a precious source of water. Take appropriate cautions when necessary, i.e. never cross a flooded wash, watch for flash floods if it is raining anywhere in the region, watch for deer, cows, and horses, etc. etc.

Weather: This is high altitude. Conditions can change rapidly. Please observe all warning signs. Thunderstorms with lightning can be extremely dangerous. With inclement weather, roads and trails can become impassible.

Other areas of interest in the area include Hawikuh, Acoma (Sky Pueblo), El Malpais National Monument, Zuni, Chaco Canyon, and many other sites.


Please note that all the images are copyrighted and you may not copy them
for any purpose without getting consent.

General Information | Resources | Destinations | Photos | Contact SouthwestUS | Home
©2009 SouthwestUS.com. All rights reserved. No images may be copied or reproduced in any form without written permission.