Recently Joe and I took a couple days to go hiking and see the sights in the Gila Wilderness area which is located in southwest New Mexico near Silver City. Normally one would think, southwest New Mexico, hmmm . . . hot, desert, less vegetation. In fact there are several national forest areas in this region with mountains, rolling hills and valleys dotted with various pine trees, cedar trees and wild flowers. The temperature naturally feels a bit cooler in the mountains and it makes for an enjoyable hike. Silver City was a boomtown during the 1880’s as a mining community where they mined silver, gold, copper, lead and zinc. Today Silver City is still a small community and small college town, home to Western New Mexico University. The community has renovated the downtown area with local artists showcasing their art in the little shops as well as restaurants and antique consignment shops. It’s a great place to walk and visit with the locals as well as shop for unique finds that you might not find anywhere else. On Saturday morning we headed north of Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. We began a moderate hike along a trail that leads to a cave in the distance. As you get closer can see the long standing dwelling that was believed to be built by the Anasazi or Mogollon people in or around 1280’s. It’s an astounding sight to see and gives you a sense of how the people of that time lived and survived. I found it amazing that these cliff dwellings are so well preserved after so many centuries have passed. Hope you enjoy our little hike through history.
We began our hike by crossing several bridges along the way. The area heavy with vegetation including poison ivy which we kept an eye out for.
A stream nearby which was probably the water source for the people who lived here.
We see the rock formation above us.
As we climb higher we see our first view of the cave. At this point you can’t see any evidence of the dwellings inside.
It looks small from here, but as we get closer, it opens up to many rooms that was home to more than a dozen families.
The trail leads along the side straight to the entrance to the cave.
As you look into the cave you can see the construction of the walls and windows that remain today.
It’s wondrous to think about the planning and work it took to build these structures so many centuries ago.
They are believed to use ladders to navigate the steep rooms above and below inside the cave.
Here’s some remains of a room below that looks like an attempt to to make steps, or possibly shelves.
The pueblo style goes way back and here is one wall where a post or log would have gone through.
A window into another room. A lot of rock, mud and clay went into these rooms.
A view from the back of the cave. Inside the cave it’s about 20 degrees cooler than outside, which is one reason this may have been the ideal place to make a home.
There were openings on two sides of the cave which may have helped divert the smoke from their many fires inside. This is the roof of the cave which is still blackened with smoke and soot.
Here are some pics of the area inside and outside the cave.
Our walk back to the Ranger station was full of beautiful views.
And some wildflowers that dotted the path.
4 thoughts on “Gila Cliff Dwellings”
Thank you for sharing your hike through history, I very much enjoyed it. 😊
Thanks Karen! I’m glad you enjoyed our tour through the Gila Wilderness.
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Have never made it to the Gila Cliff Dwellings so thanks so much for sharing you trip and those great pictures!
You will have to visit the cliff dwelling sometime, they are well worth the trip! Just beware that the 44 mile drive from Silver City may take close to 2 hours with those tight twisting mountain roads. It’s slow and winding most of the way.