The Zuni Indians call it “A’ts’ina” (place of writings on the rock), the Spaniard conquistadors called it “El Morro” (The Headland), and the American pioneers called it “Inscription Rock”. El Morro National Monument is a fascinating mixture of both human and natural history. Rising 200 feet above the valley floor, this massive sandstone bluff was a welcome landmark for weary travelers. A reliable waterhole hidden at its base made El Morro (or Inscription Rock) a popular campsite. While travelers rested in its shade and drank from the pool, many carved their signatures, pictures, dates, and messages in the soft sandstrone cliff. Today over 2000 inscriptions and petroglpyphs are visible.
El Morro is a Cuesta, a long formation gently sloping upward, then dropping off abruptly at one end.
Travelers on the ancient trade route relied on El Morro’s source of water, a pool of runoff and of snow melt resting in the shade of the bluff. When full the pool holds 200,000 gallons of water.
The NE corner of Atsinna Pueblo was unearthed by archeologists in the 1950s. Atsinna and nearby pueblos were built in the late 1200s. After only 75 years they were abandoned. (perhaps they were meant to be only temporary, unusual heat and drought may have driven the Zuni from the river valleys to the hill ground.