Gila Cliff Dwellings and a great drive

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
City of Rocks State Park
What I did

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, June 10, 2011

Lots of stuff to do today. The plan is first to drive the two hours to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Then lunch in Silver City. And finally to finish the day at City of Rocks State Park where we are staying. We left for the Cliff Dwellings around 8:00. The drive was not far but took along because the road went all over the place: up and down and right and left. Good thing I left the RV back at camp or we might be at the bottom of a valley. It was one of the best drives of all time. At parts it felt like we were on top of the world. The chasm below felt deeper than the Grand Canyon.  After almost two hours of "two hands on the steering wheel" type driving we arrived at the visitors center.  

It was a small place with one of those intro video's on the small screen and a lot of Native American artifacts. The best part was the humming birds. We have birds at home but never any humming birds. These guys were all over the place. From the center it was an easy drive to the actual dwellings. From the parking lot we had to take a one mile trail up the canyon to the dwellings. Unfortunately we had to leave Quique at the bottom in some open kennels. She did not like this. The hill to the dwellings was moderate. I can see some out of shape people getting winded but we were OK with it. There was much evidence of the wildfire from last month that closed this place until a few weeks ago. It was so bad that it closed part of the trail. It did not damage the cliff dwellings. Speaking of, these things were amazing. There were several natural cliff side caves that the local Native Americans built their houses and did their faming on the canyon floor. It took them around 15 years to build but they only lived in them for around 25 years. All that work for one generation. But due to the isolation they still exist. Though by the time true conservationist got a hold of this place many things had been taken away.  We could climb up into a few of the caves which only went back about 100 feet. One place looked like an theater. There were a few rangers around to make sure nobody was doing anything stupid and to answer many of our questions. I hate to see tourist not use these people for their wealth of knowledge. I guess some people don’t want to learn. To exit the cave/dwellings we had to climb down a huge ladder. We got Quique out of the kennel and left this great place that should not be missed.

Now we were getting a little hungry for lunch. So our next stop would be the town of Silver City which was only 35 miles away. But we had to head back through the crazy, twisting roads of the Gila Forest. The road to Silver City was crazier than the road coming up. No way I’d do this in an RV. The road was so narrow they did not even bother to paint a median down the middle. As you were rounding curves you just hoped no other car was around the corner. This short, but adventurous drive took almost an hour. Our first glance of Silver City was of a junky place. I guess that’s just the way we came into town. We finally found the true downtown which is much like an artist colony – a New Mexico version of Sedona but more on the starving artist side. The first place we tried to find for lunch was a Thai-American fusion place that got some great reviews. Plus Pooh really wanted Asian. The TomTom GPS took us a block away from the place so we had to search and ask a little. But when we got there it was only open for dinner. Choice number 2 was the Silver City Brewing Company. But TomTom could not even find that one either. So TomTom is not earning its keep today.  So I found a place to park the truck and checked for some more places on my Droid. So our third place was called Amy’s eatery which too got good reviews. Good news was it only three blocks away and we parked on the street right next to the place. It was pleasant day weather wise so we ate on the deck. Being that Silver City is artistic, so was this place. And the menu was short but all over the place. We ordered Greek Salad for an appetizer and then Pooh had a Spicy Thai Chicken dish while I had the Gyro. Another plus was our dog could eat with us. After this great dining experience we got back in the truck and headed back to City of Rocks SP.

The trip back only took a little more than 30 mins. We rested up back at the RV and then did a bike trail around the place. It was only three and a half miles but after a busy day, this was a workout. Plus the trail was really full of gravel which made it easy to fall. The air is very dry so we drank much more water than we usually do. On the plus side I did find the path that lead to the butte that overlooked the park that I wanted to hike in the morning. After our bike ride we got Quique and went running around the rocks around sunset. Pooh and Quique went all over the place up and down the rocks again. We just could not get enough of this place. But soon the darkness forced us inside. We had left-over’s for dinner before turning in.

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