Scenic USA - New Mexico

Gila Cliff Dwellings

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Gila Cliff Dwellings - Silver City, New Mexico

Photos by Ron McEwan

   While Europeans lead a series of crusades into the Middle East and Marco Polo set out for China, the Mogollon Culture in today's southwestern United States began to disappear. The Mogollon (Moe-go-YONE) people first expanded into the mountains of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico about 200 BCE. Their homes were simple pit houses at first, gradually becoming more complex over time. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the last of the Mogollon dwellings near today's Silver City, New Mexico. The cliff dwellings were utilized for a short period of time, from the 1280s through the early 1300s. By 1450 CE the Mogollon Natives had merged physically and culturally with surrounding tribes. Clif Access Ladder And by the time the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, local Indians had no recollection of those who had built the grand structures seen in this national monument. Today's Mogollon cliff dwellings look very much as they did when they were last inhabited 700 years ago.
   The 100 year old park is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lies at the edge of the Gila Wilderness. Gila Forest visitors find a unique beauty in its rugged mountains. Mogollon Baldy, Castle Rock, Eagle Peak Mountain and the Burro Mountains are all accentuated by deep canyons and brightened with mountain meadows. Cactus thrives in the lower elevations, with ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, Douglas fir, pinyon pine, alligator juniper and aspen forests covering the high mountains. Wildlife sightings, such as black bear, mountain lion, elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and wild turkey, keep only those with stealthy footsteps and sharp eyes entertained.

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