G I L A   C L I F F   D W E L L I N G S   I I

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view; May your mountains rise into and above the clouds --Edward Abbey

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings, Silver City, New Mexico

explored & photographed by: Shady

From the 1280s through the early 1300s, these caves were home to the Mogollon tribe, and 10 to 15 families dwelt within their walls. One of the things that makes this place so fascinating to me is how the Mogollon, much like the Anasazis, seemed to abandon their dwellings rather mysteriously. While there are many theories on why it was deserted- from sickness to enemy attack to overcrowding to drought- nobody can say for certain what compelled them to just desert a site that was so rich in resources and that they had put so much work into, so it's interesting to speculate on...

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

...the cliff dwellings would have been an ideal location to settle in, having everything they'd need- the tribe hunted the local wildlife, including whitetail and mule deer, and they most likely farmed in fields next to the nearby Gila River growing corn, beans and squash. They were very skilled at pottery-making and weaving, and used the local yucca plants for material to make sandals and other clothing. So as we explored the remains of their ancient community, we couldn't help wondering why they would have just left it all behind.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

We walked along the narrow catwalks that lead to other rooms and levels, and we saw more pictographs- a human figure, snakes, some red handprints (which didn't show up well in the pic I shot unfortunately)- and climbed up and down some pretty freaky rickety wooden ladders that connect the huge multi-level structures.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

The view of the valley from inside the cliff dwellings is spectacular, with the sparkling Gila River and the bridge spanning it at the trailhead in clear view wayyy below... the Mogollon had a breathtaking view of both land and sky to greet them each day, that's for sure. And the whole place just has such a primitive-yet-timeless aura about it. All of that, along with it's mysterious past, just make it a very fascinating site to explore.

Designated as a national monument in 1907, the park is open year-round and both guided and self-guided tours are available... check out their site for more info.

BACK TO GILA PAGE ONE

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