Tag Archives: Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings: Cave living at its finest

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

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.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

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.

Upon Further Reflection

We lead pretty good lives, so there isn’t much to lament. In fact, I often think that if a Genie were to appear offering me the chance to magically change anything in my past, I’d have to politely decline the invitation (politely, because it’s never a good idea to piss-off an all-powerful Genie).

After all, everything in my past leads to this present, which I happen to think is pretty great. If I made different choices along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And who’s to say that would be better? I happen to think it probably wouldn’t be.

None of that, however, prevented me from gritting my teeth in regret at having traded in our old Audi as I tried to navigate our Jeep through the crazy winding roads that took us from Silver City, NM, to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

Every hand-over-hand turn screamed for an automobile with tighter cornering and better downshifting ability. I knew I was overtaxing the Jeep’s abilities when I started to smell burning breaks. With great sadness, I had to ease back on the throttle.

Meantime, our iPod random shuffle kept selecting classical music, making the entire episode feel like a Lexus commercial. I’d like to think the iPod missed our old car too. More likely, it was just mocking me.

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