If Bandelier National Monument introduced us to New Mexico apartment living circa 1300, Gila Cliff Dwellings showed us the McMansions of the era. Compared to the cramped cubbyholes of Bandelier, the Gila residences are huge – more than large enough to accommodate groups of people standing upright. In all, the ancient Mogollon people constructed 46 stone masonry rooms in five large caves.
The site’s remote location, deep in the Gila wilderness and a two hour drive from the nearest town, Silver City, has helped prevent the theft and vandalism that has plagued similar historic sites. The deep cave structures, and dry climate, have also protected the Cliff Dwellings; preserving, for example, wood beams that were originally cut in 1275.
Touring the Gila Cliff Dwellings requires a fairly easy one mile round trip hike, with a modest 200 foot elevation gain. Expect to spend about an hour exploring the area. We have it on good authority that the longish drive to reach Gila is enhanced with a high performance rental car.