El Morro – Inscription Rock

A very large sandstone cliff rising from the desert floor, El Morro was well-known by travelers in years past for the unique pool of water at its base. The pool is not fed by a spring, but by runoff from rains at the top of the cliff. It reminds me of the water harvesting techniques practiced by the Nabateans at Petra, except this is natural. The size of the pool varies with rainfall but it never runs dry. Morro was a stop for travelers from ancient times until the railroad passed it by.

It seems that people from all eras cannot resist the urge to write their names on large, flat, vertical expanses. Morro rock provides an ideal canvas for people to say “I was here”. The sandstone is easy to carve, and everyone from ancestral Puebloans to Spanish conquistadores to children traveling with wagon trains added their graffiti to the rock. I saw petroglyphs, spanish inscriptions, and english carvings, It all basically says “I was here on this date”.

Puebloans started the tradition of inscriptions on the rock

First Spanish inscription by Don Juan de Oñate dated on April 16, 1605

An Anglo inscription on El Morro