El Morro National Monument is located in Ramah off the 53.
The visitor center has a museum that includes a 15 minute video introduction to the park.
Inscription Rock trail is a 1/2 mile loop that passes the pool (were ancient travelers rested in the shade of the cuesta) and many of the carvings on the cliff.
The carvings were placed on Inscription Rock first by the Zuni Indians puebloan ancestors (who called the rock Atsinna-place of writings on the rock), then by the Spaniards who called it El Morro-The Headland.
Perhaps the most well know Spanish carving was made by Don Juan de Onate who placed his inscription on the wall on April 16, 1605, and was the first known European inscription.
Paso por aqui: Passed by here.
The towering sandstone covered by a protective layer of rock is home to more than inscriptions.
Ravens make their home in the crevices and ledges as well.
And if you look closely you can see cliff swallow nests.
I call these two The Watchers.
Mesa Top Trail continues upward for another mile and a half over steep and varied terrain. At the top are ancient pueblo ruins and panoramic views including Box Canyon on the opposite side.
In this photo you can see the trees coming up from Box Canyon as well as the exposed white rock you have to walk across to get to the ruins. There are no handrails there :)
Atsinna Pueblo was abandoned around 1400 as people moved to larger, consolidated villages in the Zuni Valley.
From the ruins you descend back down toward the visitor center. Be sure to watch for the faces in the rocks changing expression as you make your way through this hike.
After the hike were were hungry and thirsty. On the 53 back toward Albuquerque we came across the Ancient Way Cafe. We were just going to stop for snacks and water but the menu promised free-range meats and organic produce. I had the salad with grilled chicken. It was prepared perfectly and the chicken had no fat or gristle and the greens were a great fresh mix with no trace of iceberg. The dressings available were vinaigrette, honey-mustard, or the one I had and enjoyed-spicy ranch. Hubby had the smoked turkey panini with potato salad. The turkey is smoked on the premises and was good! We both had strawberry lemonade or as I like to call it, magic elixir. It is made with real strawberries, real lemon, real sugar, and squeezed in a real press. One third of the way through my first tall glass (we had 2 glasses each) I felt like myself again after the hot hike. For dessert we had blueberry pie a la mode (also prepared on premises). If you want it heated they won't do it in the microwave so the crust is not soggy. It was one of the best pies I've ever eaten. All this for around $25!
The interior is rustic and filled with art, some by local artists. Or you can sit outside on the patio. You might see Guido there!
The Ancient way cafe is located on Hwy 53 at mile marker 46 and 1 mile past El Morro. It is also convenient to El Malpais and the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.
For more information on El Morro, please click here.