Gila Cliff Dwellings a Wilderness Hoot
If you are looking for a fun place to visit on your way to or from the balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, check out the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. It is inexpensive, there are a ton of things to do, and you get a hands-on tour through the dwellings instead of having to admire them from the valley floor, which is the norm at some other archeological sites.
Part of the fun of visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings is getting there. NM 15 turns into a world class road rally site once you pass the ghost town of Pinos Altos or “High Pines” outside of Silver City, New Mexico. The road becomes a series of switchbacks and triple U’s, winding through beautiful forest and desert terrain.
Some of the route passes through private land but most of this twisting country road takes you through the beautiful Gila National Forest! There are plenty of places to take great photographs with trees, rock formations, rivers and old pioneer sites and relics to add spice. A short 44 miles later, I wheeled into the parking lot to the trail head.
The Gila cliff dwelling Monument only takes an hour or so to tour. Why not make it a lovely three-hour self-guided sprint in the woods? Spend as much time or as little as you wish!
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Once you make it to the dwellings on the cliff, volunteer guides make your time in the dwellings fun. These are low- and unpaid folk who have taken their summer and fall to make sure you and I get our questions answered. They are also good shepherds of a house over 700 years old.