City of Rocks and Gila Cliff Dwellings

In the plains of Southwest New Mexico between the cities of Silver City to the north and Deming to the south, lies City of Rocks State Park. It is one of the most unique campgrounds that I ever stayed at. Many eons ago a ancient volcano had erupted. And over time as land around this volcanic eroded away. The surrounding softer soil was carried away by winds and rains, leaving unique stone structures standing tall in this about one square mile area, out in the open plains. The campground is nestled between all these towering rocks which look like city structures and unique unusual creatures. They make for great shelter for many many rabbits and other wildlife, along with modern man and their RVs. Some of the sites in the park can be reserved and there is one section where there’s electric and water at the sites (these sites are $14 a night). But most of the sites are available on a first-come first-served basis and the ones without electricity only run $10 a night. Friends of mine had been here back in the first part of March and had wrote so highly about it in their journals, so it was on my way across the country so I had to stop and check it out. I spent the last couple days of March and into April, in the area relaxing and checking out scenery. Maxine and I spent quite a bit of time hiking between the rocks, it would be a great place to play hide and seek. As we would round corners there would be a rabbit and Maxine would chase them for a short distance thinking it was such a great time, but she could not catch any of them. It was quite windy the first day, but then the wind calmed and it was warm during the days, cool and clear at night. The stars were super abundant and with having a new Moon and I seen numerous falling stars as I would sit out in the evening enjoying the night skies. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

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Photos of some of the unique rock formations.

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Maxine on the hunt for some of the numerous rabbits.

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Our site was nestled all by itself in a beautiful setting with rocks on three sides.

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On one of our hikes we got to a point we could look back and see our site off in the distance. In this photo you see it just beyond Maxine in the distance.20160330_163757

Here I zoomed in on and from the same spot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany the rocks with a little imagination look like animals, to me this one looks like some kind of sea creature.

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On one of the days I took the beautiful two hour ride to the north into the Gila National Forest. I took parts of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits, National Scenic Byway. The byway winds through the mountains with beautiful vistas and lots of scenic spots to explore along the way. Here are a few views along the way.

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 My destination was Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. There are many different Cliff Dwellings scattered throughout the Southwest. These are estimated to be over 700 years old, and were built-in natural caves and utilize as homes by ancient people. The ones here at Gila consists of about 40 rooms built inside five natural caves. The ancient Puebloan people built these dwellings, this is part of the area that archeologists call the Mogollon Area. This area includes parts of what is now Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. You travel about 2 miles from the visitor center up a dead-end road to where you can get out and hike to the dwellings. Dogs are not allowed on the trail or in the dwellings so Maxine had to stay behind, they have kennels at the start of the trail you can use for your pets. Or as I did (it was a cool day), so I just left her in the car. She likes that best, she hates being penned up a kennel and I don’t blame her. You cross the short bridge and hike along the trail that runs along the creek.

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After hiking a short ways you round the corner and get your first glimpse of the caves.

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You start a slow assent of a few hundred feet bringing the dwellings into site.

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The first two caves you are not allowed to enter, they are much smaller and separate from the main three caves. When you arrive at the first of the main caves they have added a staircase making for easy entrance to the caves.

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Once inside you can look out and see the views of the valley and across from one cave to another.

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You work your way from room the room, some of the smaller rooms you can look in but not enter. From the middle cave you can climb down the ladder like the original residents of these dwellings did hundreds of years ago.

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These photos were taken from standing at the bottom of the ladder what a beautiful place to have a home.

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We took a different route back to the campground taking in the views and making many shortstops along the way. It was a beautiful day and I highly recommend if you’re in the area, to in this part of the country and the Cliff Dwellings. That’s it for now, take care all till next time. Rick

 

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