"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM

Gila National Forest, NM
We spent a few days boondocking in the Gila National Forest, just outside of Silver City, NM.  Here is a beautiful picture of one of the great sunsets while we were there.  While we weren't sure at first exactly where we were going to camp, we had a couple from Canada that visited with us at City of Rocks the night before give us a heads up on this spot.  Thanks Art & Suzan!
We hiked around the area, caught up on laundry, visited Silver City and did some hiking up to see the cliff dwellings in Gila.
The drive to get to the cliff dwellings is about 2 hours even though it's only 44 miles or so because of all the switchbacks.  It was a beautiful drive.


(click on picture to enlarge)
Normally we like to go to the Visitors Center first to learn about things, talk to the rangers and watch any videos they might have.  But today, the rangers were warning of a strong thunderstorm cell which was just sitting a few miles away.  You can watch it on a large Doppler TV screen.  It shows all the lighting strikes.  He suggested we get up to the caves first because if the storm or any lightening strikes get within 20 miles, they shut the trail down.  So up we went.
Getting ready to hike up.
Before you can cross the bridge and head up the steep trail, there is a ranger there to tell you a few rules.  She kept trying to tell them to us but this guy in a leather jacket kept interrupting saying he's been up here a hundred times and he already knows the rules.  The ranger gal responded, "Well I don't know that you've actually been up here before and know the rules, so just let me finish please."  Of course he kept on interrupting but she warned him that he would be stopped if he tried to go across the bridge before she finished.  He finally let her finish to which she ended with "And if you have any questions at the top, there are 3 rangers there to answer any questions.  Or you could just ask this guy since he's been here 100 times, he probably knows everything".  Touchet!

 While hiking up, don't forget to look down.

Lots of pretty wild flowers popping up.

Starting to see some of the caves.
The ancient Puebloan people who built these cliff dwellings belonged to a larger part of what is now the Mogollon area.  They grew corn, beans and squash on the mesas and hunted game.  It is believed from analyzing the timbers used in the dwellings, that the time period was about 1276.  They didn't stay long.  By 1300 they had moved on.  It isn't really known why.  It is thought that perhaps they merged with other tribes.
There are 6 caves containing dwellings in the cliffs.  Most you can go into.
 Remnants inside the one of the cave rooms.  To the right are actual corn cobs left from long ago.


Amazing dwellings.  On the right, inside looking out.

Amazing how they were able to get all the rocks and timbers up the cliff and carve out areas within the caves.  You can see the soot that is high up on the cave ceilings.  You notice the walls come up a coupe of feet short of the ceiling.   This is to let the smoke out.  The front faces the sun so they get a nice natural warmth in winter as the low sun enters the cave.  In summer strong breezes blow up from the valley floor.

It was a beautiful to walk through and the rangers to a great job of making sure no one is touching anything.  There were a few petroglyphs, but they were faint and further away than my camera could capture.


We took a different road back to where we were camped.  It was flatter and the dirt and rocks were in many colors of red, purple, orange, gold and pink.  I just couldn't seem to get picture of it.

I was sure happy to be back in pine trees again!
 We came upon the Santa Rita Copper Mine.  Wow, look at those colors!
Silver City has a very colorful, eclectic downtown with bridges that cross over the river into the old part of town.  It was surprising to us that the town seemed so empty.  Most of the pictures I took were from the middle of the street.
Old Victorian Houses

Beautiful tiles decorate this building.

We wanted to go in here, but it was too early for beer or lunch.

This is the sister store to the Pink Store in Mexico where he had so much fun.
Just on the other side of the main bridge by the Visitors Center is this old log cabin.

Back home for one more spectacular sunset before we head out for Arizona!!

Good Night New Mexico


  1. Definitly on our list for next fall.

  2. I'd like to go back again as there sure are a lot of nice hikes to do.

  3. We've never been to this area. New Mexico is on our radar for a future several month visit. The cliff dwellings are beautiful. Glad you beat the storm:) Way to go Ms. Ranger!! People can be so rude! Looks like a neat town, as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Where in AZ are you headed?

    1. We just left Kartchner Caverns and are now boondocking near McNeal at the Whitewater Wash until Sunday. Then we spend a week in Apache Junction at Lost Dutchman SP. -- Oh ya, forgot to mention the ranger also informed us only water was allowed on the hike to the dwellings and made Mr. Know-It-All spit out his gum !! :-)

  4. New Mexico is one of the few states we have yet to visit. You are really making us want to get out there!

    Check out my latest post tonight, Debbie. I challenged you to a Black and White photo challenge that was passed on to me from Rob at Rockiesoutdoors. Rules are on my post...pretty simple. Hope you accept! :)


  5. The cave dwellings are very interesting. We never made it up that way on our way through and you have once again pointed out an excellent spot that we have missed!

  6. Thanks for the tour, will have to put this on the radar for the future, can't wait to spend more time in NM. Plans are to set up for boondocking soon, talked with Curt quite a bit about your experiences at City of Rocks.

    1. We're still looking into some intro solar and an inverter with more batteries in the meantime. We'll turn Curt & Glenda into boondockers yet!

  7. Deb....you take such great photos. Thanks for tour of the cliff dwellings and Silver City. Wish we could be there. Yes, we will become boondockers some day. Again, thank you for the introduction at City of Rocks. We miss you guys.


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