HC 61 Box 43
Ramah, NM 87321
(505) 783-4226 ext. 0
(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
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
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
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