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Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

El Morro is a sandstone monument that became a popular stopping point for travelers due to the year-round supply of water in a large pool at the base of the cliff. For literally hundreds, if not thousands, of years, this spot provided life-saving refreshment in a stark and unforgiving environment. For some reason (maybe it was something in the water), this spot also brought out the urge to leave a permanent mark that said "I was here" in some form or another. The cliff face is covered with historic graffiti that crosses eras and cultures. Today it still draws visitors to read its inscriptions and contemplate our place in history.

The excellent visitor center offers a film about the monument and many exhibits relevant to its history. From the back of the building it is a short walk on a paved path to the base of the cliff. Along a quarter-mile stretch of cliff there are inscriptions from the Ancestral Puebloans from over a thousand years ago. There are also many inscriptions left by the Spanish explorers, missionaries, and administrators from the 1600s and 1700s. In the mid-1800s, the Americans began to push into this area and they left their marks as well. There are signatures from wagon train immigrants, soldiers, and railroad crews.  All together, this sandstone monolith carries the breadth of the history of the southwest on its soft rock face. This site is unique in its preservation of the span of human history in this part of the world.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Very interesting historical site. Beautiful short hike.

Cons

None.

Features

ADA accessible
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Picnic tables
Historically significant
Geologically significant
Native artifacts
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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