Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
As early as 4000 BC, the Mogollon people, possible ancestors of some modern Pueblo Indians, settled near the Gila River. The communities thrived for centuries, eventually expanding from pit houses into pueblos. By the 1270s, one such pueblo village was built in lofty caves. By 1300, though, the village was abandoned. What happened? Archaeologists still don't know. But the clues and speculation are part of the fun when visiting here.
Start your investigations at the visitors center, with its small museum of pottery, baskets, tools, and other area artifacts; its bookstore; and its 15-minute interpretive video. From here, it’s a 2-mile drive to the trailhead for the 1-mile loop hike up and through the dwellings and their amazing variety of habitations and pictographs. Guided tours (highly recommended) are offered daily at 11 and throughout the day as staffing allows. Also, try to spend some time in the surrounding Gila National Forest, which has picnicking, camping, hiking, and fishing opportunities.
Allow a couple hours for the 44-mile trip on NM 15---along mountain ridgelines and through canyons---from Silver City to the visitor centers. Note: NM 15 between Silver City and the junction with NM 35 is steep, narrow, and winding. Use the less winding, wider, and more level State Hwy. 35 through Mimbres if you have an RV, a trailer, or any other vehicle longer than 20 feet.
State Hwy. 15
- Silver City, New Mexico 88061
- 33.22587300, -108.23957700
- Visitors center: daily 8--4:30. Trail to dwellings: daily 9--4.
- Visit Website
- (575) 536-9461