DescriptionEl Morro National Monument is 43 miles southwest of Grants via SR 53. The central features of the 1,278-acre monument are 200-foot-high Inscription Rock and the water hole fed by snowmelt and rainfall pouring off the rock. The Spanish called the sandstone mesa El Morro, meaning “the bluff” or “the headland.”
Carved into the soft rock are centuries-old petroglyphs. The first known European inscription was left in 1605 by Juan de Oñate, governor and colonizer of New Mexico. Others include those of Gov. Manuel de Silva Nieto in 1629; a soldier in 1632; Don Diego de Vargas, leader of the 1692 reconquest; and Lt. Edward Beale, who passed by with a camel caravan in 1857. Other soldiers and settlers making their way west added their names and dates.
Two Ancestral Puebloan villages once thrived atop this mesa. Remains of an 875-room dwelling from about the 13th century have been partly excavated.
Self-guiding tours are available. A half-mile trail and a 2-mile trail take about 45 minutes and 1.5 hours, respectively. A 15-minute video presentation in the visitor center offers a glimpse into the cultural and natural history of the area. A small campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information contact the Superintendent, El Morro National Monument, HC 61, Box 43, Ramah, NM 87321.
Visitor center daily 9-5. Hiking trails daily 9-4. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last admittance to Headland Trail 1 hour before closing. Phone ahead to confirm schedule. Phone (505) 783-4226.