Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico

Echo Amphitheater

Natural sonic phenomenon comes with a grisly legend of murder and blood. 

Located among the sandstone cliffs of New Mexico, the Echo Amphitheater is now known for its unique echoing auditory properties, but also supposedly carries the stains of wild west killings. 

According to legend the curved stone cliff wall now known as Echo Amphitheater was the site where a group of Navajo executed a family of settlers. As the story goes, the victims were brought to the top of the cliff and killed, their blood running down the cliff wall and permanently staining it. Possibly in response to this legend another story says that years later a number of Navajo were in turn murdered in the same spot, once again staining the cliff wall with their draining blood. Now the natural echoing caused by the sites geography is often ascribed to the voices of the unquiet dead. 

There seems to be little truth to the tales, but the colorful sandstone itself may have inspired the myths. Running in red vertical stripes down the otherwise horizontally stratified cliff wall are streaks of mineral varnish that resemble blood. This colorful geological feature combined with its unusual auditory properties no doubt fed the myth associated with the Echo Amphitheater.

Regardless of the legend the Echo Amphitheater sees a steady stream of campers coming to throw their voices off the cliff wall to listen to them bounce and fade like the voices of the long forgotten dead.