This would have been a photographer's happy place but the lighting this day was terrible. So my apologies, but perhaps that will inspire you to go check it out for yourself.
Almost 2,000 years ago El Morro was an established Puebloan site. They carved into the sandstone cliffs and left their mark not only on the walls but with a large dwelling on top of the ridge called Atsinna. But the reason for the location and the names of the place through the years is the beautiful pool.
The pool is tucked in the curve of the rock wall.
Picture the 2 pictures above stitched together.
Can you just imagine how refreshing and vital to survival this pool was for hundreds of years and thousands of travelers?!?
In 1583, Antonio de Espejo, a Spanish Conquistador, recorded in his journal that he stopped at El Estanque de Penol (pool at the great rock). Fifteen years later, Don Juan de Onate officially colonized New Mexico. He brought 400 colonists to "New Mexico" hoping to find great riches, but all they found were harsh winters and an arid environment that made farming...and living nearly impossible. On April 16, 1605 he was returning back to Mexico and stopped by El Morro where he inscribed his name on the rock. He was the first known European signature there.
Then the Americans came in the Mexican-American War (1846-48), making New Mexico part of the US. One year after the war ended Lt. James Simpson, an Army Topographical Engineer, took artist, Richard Kern to El Morro and they documented and drew the inscripted area, the pool and the ruins.
The prize for most beautiful penmanship goes to
this person from Baltimore, Maryland.
I can't write this well on paper; let alone a vertical rock!
In 1857 the Army experimented with using camels for travel in the area. I'm sure that must have been an odd sight indeed for Native Americans and US settlers in the area.
The rock in this area is composed of Zuni sandstone and Dakota Sandstone tops it all off. Which you will notice in the next set of pictures when we go up top and hike around.
Acres of Prickly Pear Cactus!
El Morro has been an oasis in a dry land for centuries and continues to be a respite to the traveler willing to discover this wonderful monument.