A rainbow over a pueblo structure.

NPS Photo

A living history

Explorers and travelers have known of the pool by the great rock for centuries. A valuable water source and resting place, many who passed by inscribed their names and messages in the rock next to petroglyphs left by ancestral Puebloans. The large pueblo located on top of El Morro had been vacated by the time the Spaniards arrived in the late 1500s, and its inhabitants may have moved to the nearby pueblos in Zuni and Acoma. As the American West grew in population, El Morro became a break along the trail for emigrants passing through and a destination for sightseers. As the popularity of the area increased, so did the tradition of carving inscriptions on the rock.

To preserve the historical importance of the area and initiate preservation efforts on the old inscriptions, El Morro National Monument was established by a presidential proclamation on December 8, 1906, making it the nation's second national monument.

A circular kiva set in the ground against a clear sky.
Ancestral Puebloans

Learn more about the original inhabitants of the El Morro valley.

An inscription on a rock in archaic Spanish
The Spaniards

On the search for the fabled cities of gold, many Spanish conquistadors and missionaries passed through El Morro.

An English inscription on a rock next to a drawing of a church.
The Americans

Early American settles also passed through and left their mark on the rock.

Last updated: November 16, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

HC 61 Box 43
Ramah, NM 87321


505 783-4226 x801

Contact Us