"Grafitti through the ages ..." El Morro National Monument by kymbanm

El Morro National Monument Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 40 photos

Simple pleasures for Simple minds .....

El Morro is about 125 miles from Albuquerque, 42 miles from Grants, and 56 miles from Gallup .... this location means your won't accidentaly find yourself here ... coming to El Morro is intentional ;) I'd heard about El Morro, but hadn't taken the time to wander over and check it out myself until this day. Old grafitti from the 1600's and such? Why would I care? I am glad to say this was a worthy diversion to my day!

This National Monument is along the path that early explorers used as they wandered through what we now call New Mexico. Access to water, and a worn path marked unique features in this high desert region. The other remarkable feature was the surrounding limestone - and the ease in leaving marks upon the rock to mark one's passage. Mixed in with native 'glyphs are the etched words of Spanish explorers, and later anglo settlers and railroad prospectors.

At-sin-a in Zuni for "place of writings on the rock", El Morro or the 'headlands' in Spanish, and simply "inscription rock" by anglos ...... These simple marks tell stories beyond what one can see today. They tell of hopes and dreams, conquest and failure, and the earthshattering changes that came to the region.

The nearby mesa-top pueblo brings more to this story. As does the surrounding natural features of the landscape ... El Morro is out of the way, but so worth the time to just stop by, walk about, and feel .......

.Natives and Conquistadors meet ...

The pueblo atop the mesa is known as At-sin-a, and was a Zuni home believed to have been built around 1250 AD. The Zuni people traded w/ the ancient Anasazi, and were integral to trade in the region. Master builders and able to use the local rock to create elaborate housing and religious complexes, this pueblo may have housed up to 1500 people during it's heyday. Though well built, and easily protected d/t it's location, this pueblo (and the other unexcavated one elsewhere on the mesa) was abandoned after only 60 years of occupation. Some wonder if drought led them to this location, and after the drought ended they chose to return to their old grounds closer to the rivers.

Shipwrecked Spanish explorers wandered up toward this region from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, searching for the fabled Cibola - city of gold. Though disappointed in their finding of indigienous people, who honored the spirits of the earth and sky, they were impressed with the buildings and agricultural feats that they found. In leiu of gold for the crown ... it became the mission of the Spaniards to claim these native souls for the church.

The first record of Spanish exploration here is from 1583 ... though it wasn't until the first Spanish colonists arrived in 1598 that the explorers began to leave their mark on El Estanque del Penol. Up through the time of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, many other explorers left their mark on the rock surface of El Morro ...paseo por aqui can be seen in various locations on the cliff-face.

and now the Anglos .....

After the Mexican American War (1846-1848) this region became part of the US. Army expeditions came through the region to survey the newest part of their country. Two surveyors, Simpson and Kern, were so impressed with the beauty of the region, and the rock carvings, that they spent 2 days recording their findings and were the first to call this find 'Inscription Rock'.

Until the railway changed the usual routein 1868, the El Morro passage was the standard route through the region - many more passersby added their names to those already carved in the rocks. This included glod prospectors, emmigrants to California, and even the Camel Corps.

The railroad's route 25 miles north of El Morro ended this time of massive exploration in the region. Though this route was still used as a trade route between the Navajo, Zuni and Acoma ... oh, and the Mormons.

  • Last visit to El Morro National Monument: Feb 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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