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“Visit the past and explore history” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Ranked #56 of 1,144 things to do in New Mexico
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Surrounded by Gila National Forest and at the edge of Gila Wilderness, this area contains dwellings of the Mogollon Indians who lived here in the 13th century.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
51 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Visit the past and explore history”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 28, 2013

The Gila Cliff Dwellings is a nice National Monument in SW NM that doesn't get as many visitors as other sites like Mesa Verde since the location isn't on the mainstream travel route. That said it is definitely worth the visit if you like history and exploring ancient (by North America Standards) ruins. the location is approximately 50 miles North of Silver City in the Gila Wilderness. The trip will take 90 minutes from Silver City since it is a mountainous route. The drive in is nice in the morning. We saw at least 24 deer and a couple wild turkeys en route.

The NPS has done a great job at this site with the displays and the movie in the Visitor Center. At the trail (easy 1 mile hike) to the Cliff Dwellings themselves there is also a small Natural History museum worth the visit. The Dwellings are not visible from the road since the 7 caves are nestled in a valley down the trail.

What makes this site nice is that it is not overrun with visitors and that you can actually enter into the Dwellings and look around. They were occupied around 1270-1300 and the structures are still 80% in the condition they were found. As an added bonus there are a couple Park Service Rangers at the Cliff Dwellings that are knowledgeable and helpful.

Great site and as someone the seeks out National Parks and Monuments, I would rank this as an unrecognized treasure to he sought out by photographers and history buffs. There is camping and other hiking nearby as well.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Scott T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hayle, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
122 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Great place to see”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 10, 2013

We really enjoyed this experience, there were very few people around which made it easier to visualise what a hard life it must have been. The climb up is not too bad, plenty of steps to help and the caves make it worth the effort. We drove in on 35 via Emory Pass, a really scenic route. We found 35 to be better than 15 down to Silver City. There are no road markings for most of the way and the road is very twisty and narrow in places. In itself this doesn't matter but most of the traffic coming the other way was in the middle of the road which made for a few near misses on blind corners. This park is a little of the beaten track but so worth a visit.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Tim L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
820 reviews
204 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 865 helpful votes
“Try to combine it with a hike!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 28, 2013

Gila wilderness area has such great beauty & serenity so it must have been an idyllic place to live for the Mogollon ancestral people. Somehow, I am not saying that life must have been very easy there.
I have been to the Cliff Dwellings twice, both times while hiking in the area. First time we took a guide with us to get the best out of this educational event and it was worth it because the guy knew everything, and was able to answer any question. There is also a visitor center you can go before you enter the area to watch an informational video, which I saw this time and found very interesting.
Since we have been hiking 11 miles before we entered the Cliff area we were very tired, but if you come fresh there, the climb is very gradual and anyone can do it taking a little break after a few minutes. It is really worth it to learn about the dwellings if you are in the area.
Instead of trying to describe the caves and cliffs I will add some photos here. You can read all about it online too if you need specific educational information.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank SunnyW358
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, Canada
Level Contributor
102 reviews
68 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
“free ranger tour at 1 pm !”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 26, 2013

Driving there is already half the fun. The road is narrow and winding, offering nice views. On arrival you should go to the visitor center to gather some information, watch a little introductory movie and get an area map. There are quite a few nice places for a picnic. The dwellings are just two miles down the road from the visitor center. A few dollars entrance fee is due if you have not one of the annual passes for the National Parks/Monuments. Volunteers provide you with some more information and send you up the trail to the dwellings. It is a one mile round trip. Don't miss out on the free ranger tour at 1 pm! This is the best way to really see the dwellings and imagine what was going on there hundreds of years ago. Without the ranger most people just walk through, missing the somewhat hidden petroglyphs and stories behind.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank abceschweitzer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
43 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Long drive but exceptionally interesting”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 18, 2013

It's a long drive to/from Silver City, but it's well worth it. I've been to the more extensive site at Mesa Verde in southern Colorado, but in a way this is more interesting - and less crowded! The trail is about a mile-long loop and you can get into nearly all of the dwellings. We were there on a midweek afternoon and got the undivided attention of a park ranger who provided me with lots of information.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Giantaxe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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