New Mexico

Gila National Monument

Thursday, March 08, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

The cliff dwellings at Gila National Monument.

It got down below freezing again last night and we both woke up shivering at four in the morning and had to add another layer of clothes to our long-johns.  When we finally drug ourselves out of bed at nine, David started a campfire to help warm us up while I took Sally for her walk.  Minutes later it began to snow.  We’re just not equipped for this kind of weather, so we quickly broke down camp (setting a new record in the process) and got ready to leave, but not before visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

The dwellings are located a hundred and fifty feet up from the canyon floor along a trail lined with Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir (among others) that hide the dwellings from plain sight.  The natural caves contain the ruins of interlinked dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon (mug-ee-yón) people some time around 1276 AD (dated from the trees cut and used to build roof supports).  It’s not known why the dwellings were abandoned, but we were told by a park volunteer that they came here to live here during drought and when the drought was over, they moved on.  And so did we.

We drove back to Silver City and had a late lunch before moving on to Lordsburg, New Mexico where we stayed the night in a crappy motel.  Our trip to Gila had been disappointing.  For all of the time and effort it took to reach the park, we weren’t able to enjoy much of what she has to offer.  I’d like to say “maybe next time” but, after our experience with the gun-toting lunatic, it's difficult to imagine that there'll be one. 

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