Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

 

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is located 44-miles north of Silver City at the end of a curvy road which takes 1 hours to drive.  The visitor center has a very good introductory 15-minute video about the people who lived here more than 700 years ago.  The Monument, which is part of the National Park System, is administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

The dwellings were inhabited by Tularosa Mogollon between the late 1270s and the early 1300s.  About 40-60 people or 10-15 families lived here, using 5 of the 7 southeast-facing caves which are about 180 feet above the canyon floor.  They built about 40 rooms of interlocking stone which survived intact until miners and other pothunters began looting the site in the late 1800s.  These people were skilled builders and potters, who made everything from the natural materials at hand.  They were hunters and farmers, who raised squash, beans, corn, and other crops both along the river and on the mesa top.

The up-part of the 1-mile loop trail to the dwellings was closed due to rock slides, requiring one to climb up to the cliff dwellings on the trail built by the NPS rather than along the creek bed as the Mogollon did.