Joined: 31 Oct 2014
Location: New Mexico
| Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:50 pm Post subject: Santa Fe Reunion Driving Options (Gila Cliff Dwellings)
|Gila Cliff Dwellings
In November this year, I toured the “Gila Cliff Dwellings”, Link http://www.nps.gov/gicl/index.htm .A very impressive place that was inhabited nearly 750 years ago by a relatively small group of Puebloans. They took advantage of several natural caves on the south face of a rock bluff. This site is hidden in a small valley with a natural spring that flows year around. They built many rooms within these caves using rocks, mortar, and timbers from the surrounding area. It is very impressive how well this was built. It has been there 750 years, and still largely intact!!
The site is at 6800 ft above sea level, and the trail is rocky and steep in places. Also there is 180 feet of elevation that is gained in less than a quarter mile. The entire trail is a one mile loop. This can be difficult and will not be for everyone, but if you are able to do this, I believe you will find it very interesting. There is a viewpoint at the beginning of the up hill portion that provides a fair view of the structures from a few hundred yards. This could suffice if you are not able to make the climb. The walk to this point is fairly easy and interesting as you walk along the spring fed brook (10 to 20 feet above it.).
If you decide to take this trip you will need to stay the night in Silver City. Two nights would be better. This is because access to the National Monument is 44 miles up highway 15. Highway 15 starts in Silver City and ends at the National Monument. This road is paved the entire 44 miles; however there is no center stripe for 18 miles. There are three or four switchbacks or hairpin curves. This road is good and the drive is scenic, but slow. It will take one and half to two hours each way. Vehicles longer than twenty feet should take highway 35 from a point east of Silver City. This is a better road that does not have the sharp turns and intersects highway 15 a few miles below the Cliff Dwellings. Travel time is about the same as the distance is greater. To me the drive up highway 15 justifies trip!
Silver City is north of Interstate 10 and can be accessed by US180 from Deming NM if you are traveling west on I10 or NM90 from Lordsburg NM if you are traveling east on I10. The most scenic approach is from Phoenix by US 60 to the east of Show Low and then south on US180 to Silver City.
It has been some time since I have made the trip from Silver City to Datil. Datil is a small place at the intersection of US60 and NM12. US60 east will take you to Socorro at I25. I remember it being a nice scenic drive. NM12 is the road that cuts across from US180 to US60. This I believe is the most interesting way to travel from Silver City to Santa Fe.