Larry & Lee Ann's Journey travel blog

We've arrived...

Display inside the Visitor Center...

Yep, the Apache were in this area too...

Beadwork...

Wonder if they were comfortable, or functional for that matter?

Can you see the frog?

Interesting drawings...

An older shot of the cliff dwellings...

Starting our trek on the longest bridge of the trail...

There's a pretty little stream running along the canyon floor...

Brad waiting on the rest of us before he crosses the stream...

Our first glimpse of the dwellings as we climb...

Bonnie & Brad ascending...

Good job baby! He's loving Dad's stick :)

You can see a couple of folks on the trail below the...

There is a bit of color about...

I had to stop a few times as we made our way...

Smart aleck Brad was waiting for me!!! Just a'leanin'...

A distant view...

Interesting how this rock is in the rock. Do you see it?

The largest room...

Looking across the canyon from inside...

Can you see the faint mural?

Rock & mortar inside...Timber too

There is a passageway across the back giving access to every room....

You can also see the passageway in this pic near the left...

I'm using a stick too...

It's leaning on the ladder as I climbed up to peer over...

This is the most hand on we've ever been in a cliff...

One of two volunteers working on this site...I think I'll stop here...


Today's post covers our recent visit to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument located in the Gila National Forest. Larry, Brad, Bonnie & I accessed the site by traveling US 180 from the campground to Silver City, New Mexico and finally another 44 miles north on NM 15. It was a narrow, twisty drive with little to no pullouts & we wouldn't really recommend bringing an RV up this road although there are a couple of small campgrounds throughout the valley.

We arrived at the museum and visitor center which is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service & the National Park Service & maintains a small museum of Apache & Mogollon artifacts, uncovered both in the surrounding wilderness, and at the main ruins themselves. We checked out the small museum & then took another 15 minutes to view the interesting film pertaining to the monument before driving a mile further down the road to the parking area & the trailhead. This is where you pay the entrance fee (exact change required) or register your federal park pass.

The monument is on a location of 553 acres. In the immediate vicinity of the Cliff Dwellings, elevations range from 5,700 to about 6,000 feet. The terrain is rugged, with steep-sided canyons cut by shallow rivers and forested with ponderosa pine, Gambel's oak, Douglas fir, New Mexico juniper, pinon pine, and alligator juniper.

The cliff itself was created by volcanic activity. The cliff contains the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples. People of the Mogollon culture lived in these cliff dwellings from between 1275 and 1300 AD (Pueblo III Era), which is the only location that contains Mogollon sites. Archeologists have identified 46 rooms in the five caves, and believed they were occupied by 10 to 15 families. It is not known why the dwellings were abandoned. Hopi oral tradition does say migrations occurred due to cycles of beliefs, and in response to changing climate.

The dwellings were a perfect place for human living. The caves provided adequate shelter, while the wooded area concealed the homes. Impressively, the wood found in these shelters has proven to be original. Tree ring dating has determined that the wood used in the dwellings was cut down sometime between 1276 to 1287. The nearby area also provided for growing and finding food.

Visiting the Dwellings up close requires hiking a well-traveled, one mile trail loop with several foot bridges over a stream. It climbs 180 feet above the canyon floor & is steep & rocky in places. You will need sturdy shoes, a hat for sunny days & of course plenty of water. A walking stick would also be most helpful. You should also allow at least one hour for the round-trip. We lucked out & had beautiful weather for our visit although we did wear a hat most of the time. Another great day here in the Deming area! :)

PS I have decided to split this post into two as there are too many pics so you can find part two on the home page or click next at the bottom. Thanks :)



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