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El Morro National Monument, located near Mountain View, is a historic site that has served pioneers and travelers for hundreds of years; the monument is the location of a waterhole that has been used by Ancestral Puebloans and Spanish and American settlers. Many of these people have carved their names or left other markings to show they were there. Today the monument is a testament to the area's history and culture and a popular destination for hikers. Camping near El Morro National Monument puts all of its attractions right at your doorstep.
The monument is composed partially of Zuni Sandstone, a yellowish-gray white rock that dates back more than 145 million years to the Jurassic Period, and Dakota Sandstone. The Dakota Sandstone is darker in color and was left here between 65 and 145 million years ago. The landscape is further distinguished by cryptobiotic soil, a lumpy dark soil created from blue-green algae, mosses, fungi, and other materials. It helps to hold the soil together and prevent erosion in arid landscapes, making it possible for plant life to grow and for the area to look magnificent.
Head across the state border with the Mountain View camper rental and spend some time at Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona. The park is notable for its many landmarks such as Agate House, a pueblo that was built out of petrified wood. The house was discovered in the 1930s, leading to subsequent discoveries of many similar structures. It was later reconstructed to approximate what archeologists believed it would look like; today, it sits in the Rainbow Forest section of the park, a short hike of several miles round trip from the nearest parking lot. While you're here, you can hike and backpack, or take part in a guided tour.
Not far from El Morro, El Malpais National Conservation Area is located near the city of Grants and is a dramatic combination of volcanic fields, sandstone cliffs and canyons, and wilderness areas. It's additionally home to many important landmarks such as La Ventana Natural Arch and the Chain of Craters Back Country Byway. The area is an important archeological resource and serves as a spiritual resource for many Native American cultures; it's a popular location for photographers and hikers.
While you're camping near El Morro, you can also spend some time exploring the Chain-Of-Craters Wilderness Study Area. It's a part of the El Malpais Conservation Area but warrants special attention due to its sequence of volcanic cinder cones that can be as much as ten stories or more in height. The cones are spaced out from each other, surrounded by stands of pinon-juniper and ponderosa pine trees, creating a scene of both stark landscape blended into lush forest. It's an ideal destination for hiking as the Continental Divide Trail passes through the area connecting with some of the local trails.
The campsites at El Morro National Monument are designated for tents to reduce the impact on the environment. Not to worry, though, as there are several RV camping options nearby. El Morro RV Park & Cabins is a pet-friendly RV campground near Mountain View. The park has gravel roads and dirt-gravel pads. Some of the sites can accommodate larger RVs, and some have pull-through access. All of the campsites have full hookups and are nestled amongst juniper and pinon pine tree stands. The campground has a restaurant on site.
Joe Skeen Campground is located in the El Malpais Conservation Area. It has almost a dozen sites, some of them having pull-through access. Each of the campsites has a picnic table and a grill for cooking. The campground has vault toilets and a gravel road leading into it.
Laguna is a small community that has existed since approximately 1700. The community has an important landmark, the San Jose de la Laguna Mission and Convento, that was built around the same time that the community was formed. The convent was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. If you're feeling hungry, the town has a small but adequate selection of restaurants to choose from. There are even more restaurants a short distance from Laguna.
Gallup is a mid-size city located along the historic Highway Route 66. The city was a popular filming location for western movies in the 1940s and 1950s, and is known as the "Heart of Indian Country;" many of its residents come from a variety of Native American cultures.