Adventures in My Own Backyard: El Morro National Monument

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This huge lion looks down at you as you walk along the paved path at El Morro
This huge lion looks down at you as you walk along the paved path at El Morro

Sometimes as an American, I forget that we have a lot of really great places to visit here in our own country. I often equate travel with being overseas, but there are a lot of fabulous places to see in America as well. Usually people think of the big, famous attractions like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, when they think of America. But there are also a lot of small attractions that are well worth a visit.

This rock looks similar to the famous Western Australia Wave Rock
This rock looks similar to the famous Western Australia Wave Rock

El Morro National Monument

This past March I spent a fun day in the great outdoors at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico. (Often people think that New Mexico is an international destination, but it’s actually one of our fifty states. Makes you wonder what people are learning in school these days.) El Morro is located two hours west of Albuquerque and is a great day trip destination. If you want a beautiful place to get out and commune with nature, this should be on your list of places to see.

A naturally-occurring stone-faced man guards this lookout
A naturally-occurring stone-faced man guards this lookout

It’s a historical gem

Not only is El Morro a beautiful place to explore nature, it is also full of great history. For centuries, as people headed west and passed by this huge sandstone monolith, they carved their names, dates, and other inscriptions in the rock. This led to it being called Inscription Rock by the Americans.

One of my favorite carvings
One of my favorite carvings
This isn't one of the older carvings but it's been damaged more than some of the others.
This isn’t one of the older carvings but it’s been damaged more than some of the others.

But El Morro/Inscription Rock was not just a place to leave a carved calling card, it was also an important watering hole along the trail. You can still see a small pool of water at the base of the rock today.

The watering hole
The watering hole

And you can also visit the place at the top of the rock where Atsinna Puebloans lived and cultivated crops.

The site of the pueblo
The site of the pueblo

All in all the history of the place is absolutely fabulous and makes this a place worthy of your time.

Looking down into the canyon from the top
Looking down into the canyon from the top
Trees grow all over the rock at El Morro
Trees grow all over the rock at El Morro

It’s free

A lot of national parks and monuments charge entrance fees but this one is FREE. So there’s really no reason not to visit.

This huge lion smiles down at you as you walk along the paved path at the base of the rock
This huge lion smiles down at you as you walk along the paved path at the base of the rock

It’s the perfect picnic spot

Ok so there might not be picnic tables and benches up on top of the rock, but the views are amazing. And there are lots of rocks to sit on. So be sure to pack a picnic lunch! You might be tired and hungry after all of that walking and climbing and with so many great views, there are lots of places to just sit and soak up the scenery.

Carved stairs through one part of the rock
Carved stairs through one part of the rock
A unique alligator juniper
A unique alligator juniper

With so many fascinating things to see at El Morro, this place should be on everyone’s New Mexico bucket list.

Have you been to El Morro? What did you think?

 

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