Gila Cliff Dwellings
The drive from Silver City, New Mexico to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument takes about an hour and a half. Just a short drive to go back several thousand years of history.
Once at the park, first visit the Visitors Center. There you will get the history of the Mogollon People who occupied the dwellings, and of the ancients who visited before them. There is a museum and video that tell their story.
The history in these mountians extend beyond the Mogollon. The Apache made these hills their home for many years after these caves were abandoned.
You will hike about a mile loop to visit the Dwellings. The trail travels along the canyon floor, next to the North Fork of the Gila River, and climbs to the bluff and the caves that house the dwellings. The history and the views are stunning.
|The Stairs begin just at the first views of the cave and ruins
|Arriving at the first caves you see the signs of human occupation. Archeologists have determined that the caves would have housed about 60 people, with two or three families living in each home.
|The ceilings of the caves are covered in the soot of warming and cooking fires from thousands of years of living
As you approach the first caves you can see the influences of a cultural mix. The “T” shaped door is associated with the Ancestral Pueblo People and not the Mogollon. This, as well as discovered artifacts show that over time the cultures mixed.
The dwellings consist of five caves. The first two are observed from the outside. The next three are where you can get up close and personal and began to see how these people lived.
|Access to the caves is by wooden stairs and ladders
|Within the caves, individual rooms were built using rock and mud. The multiple levels show multiple rooms or storage areas
|The wood found used to support a roof, doors and windows remain from the time of the Mogollon. Archeologists have dated the time of their occupation by taking core samples from the wood used to construct the homes.
|An advantage of cliff dwellings were that they not only gave protection, they provided a commanding view of the entire area.
Leaving these homes and thinking about those who lived here long before us it is important to remember that we are all walking on Native Land.