El Morro National Monument

Our tent in a campsite
El Morro was a popular stopping place for people and animals as they traveled in historic and prehistoric times. When they stopped, some carved signatures or other things into the sandstone bluff near the water hole. Now, you can stop here and see the evidence of these prior trips. Also, if you take the full hike (not yet described on ExploreNM), you can visit the Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Atsinna.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: National Park Service; El Morro National Monument
Official URL:NPS web site for the monument
Region: West-central; Zuni Mountains.
CG elevation: 7217ft; 2200m
Campsite count: 9.
Visual density: 5.00. All sites checked had this visual density.
Fee: $5.00. The fee does not apply in winter, when water is not available. The times for this depend on the weather.
Season: All year. Water is not available in the campground in winter. It is available year-round at the visitor center when it is open.
Dogs: Yes. On leash at all times.
Horses: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: Yes. Site 8 is for handicapped.
General tent notes: All sites except site 8 have tent pads.
RV parking surface: gravel
RV pull-through spaces? Unknown.
RV parking notes: Most parking is on a slight slope.
General RV notes: No hookups.
Campground facilities: water (Water is available at the visitor center year-round, but only when it is open. Water is available in the campground in non-winter months (April might be winter).), trash can(s) (at almost every campsite), vault toilet(s), flush toilet(s) (at the visitor center), fire pit (with cooking grate), tent pads.
Campground attractions: hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, scenery, history, geology, year-round access.

When we visited it:

Date: 2007-04-07
Cleanliness: 9. I only found a few small pieces of litter.
General notes: April 7 was still considered winter; the water was not turned on to the campground.


Waypoint Type Description
ELMORROCGCampgroundEl Morro National Monument campground


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
El Malpais Recreation Map and Guide BLM 2008 1:100000 Y from Amazon (purchase) Great overview map for El Malpais area, including showing land ownership.
Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah Automobile Club of Southern California 1998 1:0 N from Amazon (purchase) Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the campground:

Coming from the east on I-40, take exit 81 for NM 53 south. Drive about 41 miles to the monument. The entrance is between mile markers 44 and 45. Enter the monument and the turnoff to the camground will be on your left.

Coming from the west on I-40, take exit 20 for NM 602 south. After nearly 31 miles, you reach NM 53. Turn east (left) on it. Drive about 23 miles to the monument. The entrance is between mile markers 44 and 45. Enter the monument and the turnoff to the camground will be on your left.

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About the campground:

Campsite 5
The campsites are in a Piñon-Juniper forest, and they contain the normal developed camopsite amenities such as a parking space, a table, and a place for a fire.
This is site 8, the handicapped site. It has its own water source (the only campsite with this feature).
campsite 8
a tent pad at a campsite
All of the campsites except the handicapped one have tent pads like this one.

Plants we saw around the campground:

Reader comments about this campground:

On Sat May 31 00:28:23 2014 Donald from Albuquerque, NM said:
We spent Memorial Weekend 2014 here. It was an amazing place. The campsites were spacious and clean with fire pits & picnic tables.

El Morro was an amazing place with its sheer cliffs, over 2,000 signatures, petroglyphs, water hole & ancient ruins. The hike to the top was not too difficult and well worth the view and the ruins are right there and up close.

What a great trip.

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