Gila Cliff Dwellings

(Gila Hot Springs NM)
Way up in the mountains of southwest New Mexico is Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. These are some well preserved rock and adobe housing built into caves set in a high cliff. This was one of the places I really wanted to see.

Ruins of native structure

Gila Cliff Dwellings


View approaching the dwellings

The hike up was easy, along a stream that flowed at the base of the dwelling cliffs. The choice of location was ideal; near water, easy to defend, south facing cliff for warmth in the winter, and shade in the summer, and the forest for hunting. The Gila River flows nearby, where they planted crops and could fish.

View inside the cliffs

Interior of cliff dwellings

View looking out of the cave

Looking out to the canyon

They built in six adjoining caves with rooms, storage and work areas. The Mogollon people stayed for only twenty years or so. It was a lot of work for such a short period. Why they left is uncertain; but probably drought and better opportunity elsewhere.

Preserved wall painting

Native rock painting

Little cliff dwelling

Small remote rock shelter

There was another site called Trail to the Past which took me to some ancient rock paintings on the face of a cliff. And, a small cliff dwelling up a little canyon nearby.


Gila River and cliffs viewed from campsite

My free camp was on a bluff overlooking the Gila River with a view of the tall cliffs on the other side. As a side note, the legendary Apache leader Geronimo was born along this river. A peaceful campsite, but no internet signal way out there.

Camp: Gila NF – Forks CG
Scene: Mountains, cliffs, river, ruins

2 Responses to Gila Cliff Dwellings

  1. J. RICHARD SECOR April 24, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Nice post – a great area to visit

    • Pleinguy April 25, 2014 at 4:15 am #

      It’s a nifty place; glad I was able to see it.

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