Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Quick Facts

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

New Mexico

(575) 536-9461

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Peak into the homes and lives of the Mogollon people who lived in this area over 700 years ago. The surroundings at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument probably look today very much like they did when the cliff dwellings were inhabited. The national monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies within the Gila Wilderness, the nation's first designated wilderness area. A number of exciting activities include bird watching, fishing, hiking, interpretive programs, nature walks, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. Guided tours of the Cliff Dwellings are also offered daily. Don't miss the several popular hot springs in the area. The closest wilderness hot spring, Lightfeather, is a 20-minute walk from the Gila Visitor Center. Jordan, the most popular hot springs is a six or eight-mile hike from the visitor center, depending upon the trailhead used. Private hot springs are also located in the community of Gila Hotsprings, four miles from the monument.

Map of Gila Cliff Dwellings

Latitude, Longitude: 33.224894, -108.239628

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Activities

  • Bird Watching

    The most common birds in the vicinity of the monument are vultures, ravens, crows, hawks, hummingbirds and various songbirds.

  • Bicycling

    Please contact the park for more information.

  • Camping

    Both the Forks Campground and Grapevine Campground provide primitive camping opportunities along the West Fork of the Gila River. Both sites are located approximately five-miles south of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument just off NM State Highway 15. The only water available at these two campgrounds is from the river and must be either filtered, boiled, or chemically treated. No tables or grills are provided, though vault toilets are available at these sites.

    Primitive camping at the Upper and Lower Scorpion Campgrounds along the West Fork of the Gila River, are located one half-mile south of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument just off NM State Highway 15. Drinking water is available at this campgrounds. Tables and grills are provided, as well as vault toilets.

    All three campgrounds open year-around, are free of charge and based upon a first-come, first-served basis.

    Camping is also available within the surrounding Gila National Forest.

  • Caving

    There are numerous caves in the area.

  • Climbing

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is available at both the monument and surrounding wilderness.

  • Hiking

    There are many different hiking options with varying distances and difficulties. Trails range from short canyon-treks within close proximity to the visitor center, to long, primitive trails venturing into the surrounding wilderness. Jordan, the most popular hot springs, is a six or eight-mile hike from the visitor center, depending upon the trailhead used. Hiking in the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas are popular activities in the area. Call ahead for weather conditions and backcountry water availability.

  • Historic Sites

    Guided tours of the Cliff Dwellings are offered daily. Please note that the tours start at the Cliff Dwellings themselves and it takes about a half hour to walk up to them from the trailhead. Other tours and programs may be offered depending upon staffing availability. Check ahead for times and other activities by calling the visitor center at (575) 536-9461.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding is available in the wilderness areas of the park.

  • Picnicking

    In order to help preserve the Cliff Dwellings, food is not permitted on the Cliff Dwellings Trail or within the dwellings. There are picnic tables at the Gila Visitor Center, Upper and Lower Scorpion Campgrounds, and near the cliff dwellings trailhead. If you don't bring food and snacks with you, you may find limited packaged food at Doc Campbell's Post located 3 miles from the Gila Visitor Center. The closest restaurant is at the junction of Highway 35 and Highway 15, a half hour drive from the Gila Visitor Center.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The most common large mammals encountered are mule deer and elk. Black bear and mountain lion are in the area, but are seldom seen. Coyotes can sometimes be heard at night. Because the Gila National Forest plays a role in the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf. Wolves may be in the area, but encountering them would be rare.

Seasonality/Weather

The park has a mild climate, with a rainy season usually from July through August. Spring and Fall have moderate days and cool nights. Winter months often have nice afternoons with cold mornings and nights.

During the summer daytime highs average in the 90s while nighttime lows can reach into the 50s. During the winter daytime highs can be in the 50s, while nighttime lows can reach into the teens.

Park Partners

Western National Parks Association

The bookstore is operated by Western National Parks Association (WNPA), a nonprofit cooperating association of the National Park Service (NPS). The Gila Visitor Center Bookstore is one of the sixty-five stores (plus an online store) it operates at NPS sites throughout the western United States.

The bookstore offers books and other materials to enhance the experience of visitors to the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Gila Wilderness. Birders, wildflower, and geology enthusiasts, and other natural history buffs will find a thorough selection of books. Hikers and backpackers will find maps and guidebooks.

(520) 622-1999

Directions

Driving

Take State Highway 15 north from Silver City. Although the distance from Silver City is only 44 miles, the travel time is approximately two hours due to twisting and winding mountain terrain. An alternative route from Silver City is along NM State Highway 35 and goes through the Mimbres Valley. Even though it is 25-miles longer than Highway 15, it is less winding, wider, more level, and easier to travel; therefore it takes about the same amount of time as State Highway 15.

If your vehicle, travel trailer, or RV is over 20 feet in length, you should take Highway 35.

The highways approaching the National Monument are not plowed at nights and on weekends. After snowstorms, call the visitor center to find out about road conditions.

Flying

Limited commercial air service is available to Silver City. The nearest major airports are in El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, both of which are about four hours away by car.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(575) 536-9461

Links