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The cliff dwellings were built in the 1280's. These Pueblo people built their homes in natural caves and in the open. There are examples of both types of settlements in the monument area.

GILA CLIFF DWELLINGS NATIONAL MONUMENT

Offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon culture who lived there from the 1280's through the early 1300's. Containing 533 acres, it was established on November 16, 1907. The dwellings are located forty-four miles north of Silver City, New Mexico, on Highway 15.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies at the edge of the Gila Wilderness, the nation's first designated wilderness area. Wilderness means the intrusion of roads or other evidence of human presence will not alter the character of the area. This unique area in southwestern New Mexico offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of Indians who lived here over 700 years ago and across a span of time.

European American settlers penetrated the mountain wilderness in the early 1870's in search of water and fertile land on which to homestead. They were surprised to find traces of an earlier human occupation. Long before the arrival of Europeans, these early Americans had lived, loved, and made the narrow canyons their home. Fallen walls of stone, strewn with pottery fragments, were reminders of a well-developed culture that had lived in this landscape for over a thousand years.

The Mogollon people built their homes in natural caves between 1260 Common Era (CE) and 1280 CE. Archaeologists suggest that about 8 to 10 families lived in the cliff dwellings for roughly one generation.

The Tularosa Mogollon people tilled mesa and riverside fields of squash, corn, and beans; ground cornmeal with metate and mano, wove cotton cloth, traded with other communities and cultures, hunted wild game, and gathered wild edible plants. They were skilled potters, producing handsome brown bowls with black interiors and black-on-white decorated vessels.

The women averaged 5'1" and the men about 5'5" in height. They were slight of build, yet muscular, with dark hair and eyes and brown skin. The sounds of their voices and laughter echoed in the canyon for a few decades-- and then there were only the sounds of the streams and birds.

Five naturally eroded alcoves contain the homes of the Mogollon. About 42 rooms were constructed from local stone. All wooden beams seen in the dwellings are the originals. Tree-ring dates range from the 1260’s through the 1280's. The cliff dwellers had departed their homes and abandoned their fields by about 1300. Dire need may have sent the families elsewhere—or maybe they were ready for a new location and embarked on an adventure seeking their next place to call home.

Hours of Operation

The visitor center and the dwellings are open to the public daily all year long. Visitor center hours are   8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The dwellings open to the public at 9:00 a.m. and entry into the Monument must be made by 4:00 p.m. All visitors must exit Gila Cliff Dwellings by 5:00 p.m.

Weather Conditions

Rainy season from July to September can bring powerful lightning and rain storms, usually in the afternoons. Spring and fall experience moderate days and cool nights. Winter months often have pleasant afternoons with very cold mornings and nights. Snow and ice can be present on the roads even when the ground is bare. Summer days bring 100 degree temperatures that make drinking large quantities of water a must!

Fees, Facilities, Trails and Programs

  • Gila Cliff Dwellings entrance: $5.00 per person for ages 16 and older.
  • The visitor center has:  a museum, park store, and bathrooms with potable water and flush toilets. The Monument offers a small museum and vault toilet for visitor use.
  • Adjacent Gila Wilderness and Gila National Forest have over 1,490 miles of wilderness hiking and riding trails across 3.2 million acres of surpassing beauty.
  • Guided tours of the monument may be available daily depending on staffing; and also by advance arrangement.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Call the Gila Visitor Center at 575-536-9461 during business hours. Visit the official website at: www.nps.gov/gicl/ , and check out the official Facebook site at: https://www.facebook.com/Gila-Cliff-Dwellings-National-Monument

 

 

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