El Morro is located in Ramah, New Mexico. Visitors to this national monument will enjoy its rich natural and cultural history. This National Park is free to the public, but visitors must adhere to operational hours for both the hiking trails and monument.
El Morro has a vibrant cultural history. The site was given national monument status through a proclamation made by the president in December of 1906, to protect the area’s historical importance and enact the beginnings of preservation on the inscriptions carved into the rock near the pool El Morro is known for. The pool has been an important resting area and water source for centuries. The water pool does not come from a natural spring, but rather accumulates from runoff, rainfall, and melting snow.
Those who have stopped at this point have carved names and messages into the rock next to a set of petroglyphs that were left by the Puebloans of ancient times. Some of the inscriptions were darkened with a pencil by the first superintendent of El Morro in the 1920's. This method of preservation is no longer used.
At the top of El Morro, visitors will find the remains of a large pueblo left in the 1500s. The pueblo is called Atsinna and was constructed approximately 1275 AD by early ancestors of the Zuni Native Americans. As the population of the West grew, El Morro became a resting point along the trail for those traveling and a sightseeing destination.
Things to Do
El Morro offers visitors several ways to explore the park and its history. More than 35,000 visitors hike the El Morro trails annually.
Hiking- There are several hiking trails for visitors to explore. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trails. The hiking trails increase in elevation up to 200 feet. Visitors can expect to encounter cottontails, chipmunks, gray fox, birds, snakes and lizards on the trails. Other animals that live at El Morro include coyotes, cougars, black bears, and bobcats. Most of these animals are not seen very often and only come out at night; however, snakes, lizards, rabbits, and ravens, are often seen.
- Inscription Trail- This trail is a half a mile paved, wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the famous pool. Along the trail visitors will see numerous Anglo and Spanish inscriptions as well as prehistoric petroglyphs. If visitors have energy and little more time after they have reached the pool, they can follow the trail past the pool and inscriptions to reach the top of the bluff.
- The Headland Trail- This trail is two miles long including the Inscription trail. The Headland Trail winds its way as the end of the Inscription Trail to the ridgetop. Visitors that reach this point will enjoy the breathtaking views of the Zuni Mountains, El Mapais’s volcanic craters, the valley of El Morro. The hike is slightly rugged with its two-hundred-and-fifty-foot elevation addition and uneven surface of sandstone. Visitors will need good walking shoes and water. The ruins of the Puebloan town Atsinna, meaning “place of writings on rock” are another reward for hiking the Headland Trail. This town was inhabited from 1275 AD to 1350 AD by about one thousand five hundred people living the eight hundred and seventy-five room Pueblo.
Visitor's Center- A visitor's center is found at the head of the inscription trail. This center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's day. The visitor's center is open from 9am-6pm every day of the year with trails closing one hour before the center. Staffing and weather may affect these hours as well as the availability of accessible trails. Ice and snow do occur on the trails in the winter months and closures of the center and trail are possible. Park Rangers are also available at the visitor's center.
Ramah Navajo Reservation- Bordering El Morro National Monument is the Ramah Navajo Reservation. This reservation is part of the Navajo Nation. Ramah Navajo Reservation is home to approximately 900 families with more than half of the population being under the age of 25.
There are often ranger programs offered at El Morro. Junior ranger programs are scheduled and curated by the national park service.
The area that El Morro National Monument is found is remote with a few miles of woods on either side. The only accommodations available while visiting El Morro are nine remote campsites with no hookups or facilities. There is water spigots available at each campsite; however, during winter months the water is turned off.
HC 61 Box 43 Ramah, New Mexico, 87321, Phone: 505-783-4226 x 801
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