Friday, July 2, 2010

Monticello/Gila Part Deux

After leaving Monticello Canyon, it was south on NM 52 and toward our campsite for the night in the Gila National Forest. Six of the thirteen decided to camp, as the others peeled off and headed back. Rolling hills are the norm in this part of NM, until you get into the Gila NF, then the rugged mountains take over the terrain.

Once at Iron Creek Campground, camp was set up and we all settled in for great evening in the great outdoors. Most everyone set up tents, however being different I had a nice comphy spot picked out in the back of the Jeep.

The next morning we all got up and had a nice slow start to our morning, no time line to follow, or place to be in a hurry. Once packed up we decided to head over to Silver City NM and then come up with a plan for the day.

On the way to Silver City, we ran across the Santa Rita Copper Mine, nessled here in the Gila Mountains. I understand the need for mining and much of the equipment and items we use in day to day life comes from mining, however you don't realize how ugly these mines are and how the scare the landscape, until you see one upclose.

Once in Silver City we decided a trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument was in order, so off we went. We took NM 15 North from Siver City and that was one of the most winding roads through a montain range that I've ever been on. The drive took over 2 hours to travel 44 miles, however we did have to stop a couple of times to allow one of the vehicles brakes to cool off.

Once at the monument, we paid our fees and headed out on the one mile loop trail to the cliff dwellings. Approx 1/2 way up the loop, the dwellings come into view, and are much higher up the cliff face than I expected.

This is one of the first caves you come to, and is believed to be the communal kitchen area.

The wall building is pretty high quality concidering how long ago they were built and the tech availible at that time to the native people. The dwellings are approx 700 years old and about 80% original the other 20% have been distroyed by vandals over the years.
Location, Location, Location, and boy did they have it!!! Million dollar views for sure.

There are 7 distinct caves with various rooms in each one.

This one was staged as a storage area.

The exit is a climb down this ladder, as the natives did in their day, you can return to the steps, but this way is much more fun.
It was a great weekend, but all good things must come to an end, and so did our day. we loaded up and headed home, splitting off in Las Cruces and each making our way back to El Paso and Alamogordo.

A final Sunset to a great tribute to a weekend filled with good memories and friends old and new.


Anonymous said...

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Tom said...

Great pictures and information. Very helpful as I am planning a trip to the monument.