(El Morro NM)
El Morro National Monument featured Inscription Rock with hundreds of signatures on a sheer sandstone cliff. The Visitor Center had nice displays about the history of the site and those that made it a well known stop-over. A paved path took me past the signatures.
It contained historic graffiti spanning over a thousand years; with markings by early natives, Colonial Spaniards, cowboys, missionaries, Mexican and America settlers and military. Most were messages of “I passed here on X date”. But, others were more interesting, like a poem.
At the base of the cliff was a watering hole, that made it an ideal place to camp while passing on the popular trail through the area. When the railroad took a different route, that became the easier option for travel. Then El Morro almost became forgotten; but, was eventually preserved as the monument. Atop the rock, on a mesa, was the Atsinna Pueblo ruin which I didn’t hike up to see.
Camped at a free Forest Service campground just 1/4 mile off the highway; there were several others there, too. Nicely spaced sites in tall trees with picnic table, fire-ring, and pit toilet. It was quiet and at about 6,400ft, so the temperatures were decent; but, no internet.
Camp: Apache NF-Apache Creek CG drycamp
Scene: Sandstone cliffs, graffiti, pond