• Historic inscriptions carved in the bluff at El Morro.

    El Morro

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • Camel Corps Commemoration!

    Join us on Saturday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept 21, 2014 as we commemorate the Beale Expedition of 1857 and the "camel corps"! There will be fun for the whole family and yes, live camels! More »

  • 2014 Compendium now available

    The 2014 compendium is now available via the link below. It includes new prohibitions on the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in national park units. More »


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski
Cryptobiotic Soil

Cryptobiotic Soil

NPS Photo

Cryptobiotic Soil

The "lumpy" dark soil areas you see off of the trails at El Morro are "biological soil crusts," also referred to as "cryptobiotic soil". The microorganisms that comprise the crust include slow-growing cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae), mosses, lichens, fungi, bacteria, liverworts and other types of algae. Cryptobiotic soil is important because it helps to hold soil together and prevent erosion, and improves the germination rate and survival of plants re-colonizing disturbed areas. Biological soil crusts are well adapted to arid conditions, but they are very fragile and are destroyed when they are stepped on by animals and humans. Cryptobiotic soil is slow to regenerate; if damaged, it can take decades to regenerate. Please remember to stay on trails at all times to avoid damaging this important part of the landscape.

Did You Know?

Image of the 1st ranger cabin/tourist shelter at El Morro National Monument

The first ranger cabin at El Morro National Monument, which also served as a tourist shelter, was built in the early 1900s and began as nothing more than a wooden shed.