Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Route 11, Box 100
Silver City, NM 88061
(505) 536-9461 or (505) 536-9344
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the Indians who lived there from the 1280s through the early 1300s. The surroundings probably look today very much like they did when the cliff dwellings were inhabited. It is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies at the edge of the Gila Wilderness, the nation's first designated wilderness area. This designation means that the wilderness character of the area will not be altered by the intrusion of roads or other evidence of human presence.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, containing 533 acres, was established on November 16, 1907. Administration of the monument was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Department of the Interior on August 10, 1933. In the spring of 1975, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service signed a cooperative agreement whereby the Gila National Forest is responsible for administration of the monument.
The monument is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and visitor center is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Other times, the monument is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the visitor center is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Weather in the monument is mild, with a rainy season July through August. Spring and Fall have moderate days and cool nights. Winter months often have nice afternoons with cold mornings and nights.
Getting to the Monument:
Take State Highway 15 from Silver City. Travel time is approximately two hours. An alternative route from Silver City goes through the Mimbres Valley. It is less windy, easier to travel and takes about the same amount of time as State Highway 15. However, it is 25 miles longer. Call ahead for winter road conditions. State Highway 15 is a narrow, mountainous, windy road, and is not plowed for snow on weekends or at night. Trailers over 20 feet must take an alternate route on Highway 61/35.
Activities and Facilities:
A museum, visitor center and contact station located at the monument. The visitor center is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. It has a small interpretive museum and sells SPMA books, posters, videos and postcards related to the Mogollon culture and surrounding Gila Wilderness. Opportunities abound for camping, horseback riding, fishing and hiking in the Gila Wilderness surrounding the Monument. There are more than 350 miles of wilderness hiking and riding trails. Guided tours of the monument are available, with prior arrangements. Summertime campfire programs also available. In the summer, campfire interpretive programs on weekends are offered. Tours are provided for school groups, by reservation only.
Lodging and Camping Facilities:
Lodging available in Silver City, Mimbres, Gila Hot Springs and Pinos Altos. There are four Forest Service campgrounds in the area, and a commercial trailer park at Gila Hot Springs.
Food and Supplies:
Silver City, or the nearby community of Gila Hot Springs, has a convenience store that sells gasoline and camping supplies.
Trail to the Past is handicapped accessible (for viewing of pictographs) as is the visitor center. As the mile loop trail through the cliff dwellings is steep in places and winds to and through cliff dweller canyon it is not accessible.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication