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Monday, February 18, 2013

Gila National Forest, NM: Gila Cliff Dwellings


Gila Cliff Dwellings, Gila National Forest, New Mexico


Getting to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is a significant time investment that includes a road fraught with twists and turns and ups and downs. If you go, consider that it's about a two-hour drive from Silver City.

Alas, my sister and I didn't explore the hot springs that are fairly close to the Gila Cliff Dwellings visitor center - perhaps another time.

Gila Cliff Dwellings, Gila National Forest, New Mexico


At the visitor center, there's a movie you can watch. Not bad. It surprised me that the dwellings were only used for one generation and also that they were, relatively speaking, a recent construct - 700 years ago. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings, Gila National Forest, New Mexico


The other thing interesting about the cliff dwellings are the 10-12 volunteers who serve there. Semi- or fully retired, they live at an RV park in Gila Hot Springs, about four miles from the dwellings. One couple, originally from Texas, but who now divide their time between Colorado and New Mexico, bring their horses with them.

Visiting the cliff dwellings reminded me of Uplistsikhe in Caucasus Georgia.

Walking up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is very pleasant - shady, with a stream that burbles along beside for awhile. I find that the dwellings themselves don't get me too excited, but that's strictly a personal preference. I know folks who visit all such dwellings they can find. It's nice that visitors follow a different path down than they take up, allowing for a fresh view. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings, Gila National Forest, New Mexico

 
Which route to take toward the cliff dwelling? 

From Silver City, you can take Highway 15, or from a little east of Silver City, you can take 152 to 35 to 15. Of the two, the Highway 15 route is prettier and shorter. Driving through the idyllic pine woods on the narrow and winding black lane - so nice.

But not everyone loves winding narrow lanes, so you might prefer to take 152 to 35 and then get onto 15. The 152-35 legs are relatively calm.

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