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.
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