Home is where we park it... travel blog

Just entered Gila National Forest

The Gila Wilderness stretches out in front of us

A really cool mountain pass at about 5,000 feet

Hwy 152 is a great road to travel

There are many ranches along the way

The first of the pines and firs

St. Roberts Lake

This wildernes goes on forever

Gila River

Monument at the visitors center

The small gorge at the beginning of the dwelling loop

And up we go

The cliff dwellings are up there somewhere

First climpse of the cliff dwellings

Gets a little steep here and there

Getting closer

Wow!

First cave dwelling

Cliff dwelling

The opposite side of the cliff dwellings

More rooms

Inside

Another room

More inside

Top of the climb down

The visitor center, bridge and parking lot below

A westerly view of the wildernes with the Caballo Mountains miles away...

Old downtown Silver City

Late afternoon through the Gila National Forest

A short break along the way home

We are still about an hour and a half from home. Beautiful...


On our list of things to see was the area of Gila National Forest and the Gila Cliff Dwellings. This national forest was a unexpected surprise. It has the most differing terrain. From the high spruce-fir, the forest reaches an 11,000 foot peak in the Mogollon Mountains down to the semi-arid 4,200 foot elevation. There are six distinct "plant communities in the region.

With 3.3 million acres, the Gila contains more publicly owned land than any other national forest outside of Alaska. Within the Gila Forest is the largest wilderness in the southwest, the Gila Wilderness. This superb example of pristine mountains, forests, range land and protected desert is the first-ever designated wilderness area in the world.

An ancient culture, the Mogollon, once flourished in the Gila region. The people left their imprint, then passed on, probably around 1300 A.D. Where they went, or why, no one knows. They were very impressive builders. In the heart of the Gila Forest, a one mile walking trail loops up a shady canyon leading us to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, a forty two-room collection of homes which the Mogollon people constructed in five spacious sandstone caves. Really amazing. The short hike is not difficult but not handicap accessible. There are ladders to climb allowing access to walk through some of the rooms. A companion brochure explains the unique architecture and speculation on what each room was used for. One can try to imagine the indians living in these rock crevasses with the Gila River below.

The drive through the forest to the dwellings took us nearly three hours, but it was worth it. We swear that the road was designed by a motorcycle rider. It was a dream.

We got a very late start so it was about 2 pm when we finished hiking the cliff dwellings. We needed gas. There was a small store a couple of miles away, but the guy wanted over $5 a gallon. We still had not seen Silver City, so off we went. It was the right choice even though we would be getting home after dark.

We drove through the historic district of Silver City and then stopped in a local park to have lunch. We were not really in the mood for walking around or shopping. So, we headed home hoping it would not get too cold. The temperature stayed right around the high 50's, so it was tolerable. Besides the scenery was beautiful.

Today's drive was nearly 300 miles, a wee bit over our preferred limit. Again, it was really worth it. Tomorrow we head out for Lakewood, NM to "The Original Ranch" an SKP park just south of Artesia.



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