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El Morro National Monument

HC 61 Box 43
Ramah, NM 87321

Visitor Center
(505) 783-4226 ext. 0
Monument Headquarters
(505) 285-4641 ext. 0

A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro (the headland) a popular campsite. Ancestral Puebloans and Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs for hundreds of years. We invite you to make El Morro a stopping point during your travels.

El Morro National Monument is open year-round for you to enjoy. Activities include hiking, camping, picnicking, kids activities and exploring the visitor center.

Things to Do

If you have an hour or less

Walk the Inscription Trail and see why El Morro was proclaimed a national monument. This trail takes you to the pool and past hundreds of Spanish and Anglo inscriptions, as well as pre�historical petroglyphs. If you still have time when you return to the visitor center, watch the 15 minute video in the museum.

If you have 1.5 hours
Walk the entire 2�mile Headland Trail. This includes the Inscription Trail but also continues to the top of the bluff for a look into the Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Atsinna. Portions or all of the Headland Trail may be closed during the winter months.

If you have 2 hours or more
Watch the 15-minute film for a great introduction to El Morro National Monument, walk the 2-mile Headland Trail, and finally, explore the exhibits and browse the bookstore back at the visitor center.

Places to Visit

The Inscription Trail
A must�see! If you only have an hour or less, you will definitely want to take the trail to the pool and past hundreds of Spanish and Anglo inscriptions, as well as pre�historical petroglyphs. It will be easy to see why El Morro was proclaimed a National Monument. This loop trail is paved, 1/2 mile in length, and wheelchair accessible with assistance. If you have at least 1 1/2 hours, and lots of energy, you can continue past the inscriptions and up to the top of the bluff.

The Headland Trail
This 2�mile loop includes the Inscription Trail, and continues to the top of the bluff. There, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Zuni Mountains, the volcanic craters of the El Malpais area, and the El Morro valley. A 250 ft. elevation gain and the uneven sandstone surface makes this a slightly strenuous hike. Sturdy walking shoes and water, particularly in the hot summer months, are necessary. Portions or all of the Headland Trail can close due to ice and snow during the winter months (December -April).

Another reward for hiking the Headland Trail is the Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Atsinna, or �place of writings on rock�. Between approximately 1275 to 1350 AD, up to 1500 people lived in this 875 room pueblo. The location was strategic�it was near the only water source for many miles and located atop a nearly impenetrable bluff. Atsinna was partially excavated in the 1950s and masons and archeologists continue to work towards its stabilization.


El Morro National Monument is a fascinating mixture of both human and natural history. The pool continues to attract wildlife in addition to the travelers who were drawn to it for hundreds of years. The massive sandstone bluff, formed largely by ancient sand dunes, is a geologic wonder in itself.

The softness of the sandstone made it easy for travelers to carve pictures, names, dates and messages. Ironically, that is also the reason that the famous inscriptions are slowly disappearing. This poses the ultimate challenge to the National Park Service mission of preserving the inscriptions in perpetuity while allowing natural processes to operate.


From Albuquerque, NM, or from the east: take Interstate 40 west to Grants. At exit 81, go south on Highway 53 for 42 miles to El Morro National Monument.

From Flagstaff, AZ, or from the west: take Interstate 40 east to Gallup. At exit 20, go south on Highway 602 for about 31 miles. Turn east (left) onto Highway 53. El Morro is 25 more miles. If you�d like to drive through Zuni from the west, take exit 339 from Interstate 40 in AZ, and go south on Highway 191 for 24 miles. Take Highway 61/53 into Zuni. El Morro is about 36 miles from Zuni.

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