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Started the day here at El Malpais. Had a nice 3 mile hike at El Calderon area. Nice to cool off in the caves. We checked out Junction and Bat Cave while we were there. We had to move on so we did not get to see the dusk flight of the Mexican Free-Tailed bats. Oddly enough, the lizards here seem like they WANT to pose for you.
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El Morro is located west of the El Calderon area. We chose to hike the loop in the opposite direction, heading first to the Zuni pueblo at the top then descending to the inscriptions. Atsinna which translates to "a place of writings on the rock" is the name of the Zuni pueblo located 200 feet overhead of the inscriptions and watering hole. The inscriptions range from ancient puebloean peoples to Spanish territorial period, to western migration of the US. Just as the travelers of old, so did we, Paso por aqui.
Sandstone Bluffs & Natural Arch
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Sanstone Bluffs Overlook and La Ventana Natural Arch are located on the southeast portion of El Malpais off NM 117. Here we ascended the bluffs and viewed the entire park from far above. Really puts into prospective the vast size of this place. Then we headed a little further south to view La Ventana Natural Arch, an elegant creation carved of wind and rain.
El Malpais means "the badlands" in Spanish. It's grounds feature jagged spatter cones, a lava tube cave system that extends 17 miles, and ice caves. Wildlife includes lizards, bobcats, wolves, & hawks living in a delicate balance among the volcanic landscape dotted with Juniper, Fir, and Ponderosa Pines. Bring lots of water. The NW portion of the park is managed by the National Park Service and is accessed via NM 53 (exit 81 on I-40). The SE portion of the park is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is accessed via NM 117 (exit 89 on I-40).
El Morro National Monument
A reliable waterhole at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro an ancient oasis and later a traveler's rest on the trail. Ancestral Puebloans, along with Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, and messages dating back into the 1600's and petroglyphys between 700-1,000 years old. The Zuni made their home, Atsinna (the place of writings on rock), on this bluff 200 feet overhead. The Spanish termed it El Morro, "the headlands," as they paso por aqui. The Americans simply coined it "Inscription Rock" in 1849.