I wake up knowing this is the day we go to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
“Considered by archaeologists to be on the northernmost portion of the Mogollon People’s sphere of influence (The Mogollon lived in what is now Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico), the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is home to two prominent ruins sites among a collection of smaller sites located within the Gila Wilderness inside the Gila National Forest.”
We leave at 9. It’s a 2 hour drive.
On the way through the Gila Wilderness. I want to be there before it get’s hot, since Sherman will need to stay in the van while I take the walk. I’ve been told it takes about an hour to leisurely walk through the ruins.
We arrive and I find a spot in the shade to park. Yea! I leave Sherman food and water and head out.
After quite a steep climb I’m at the back side of the rocks with the caves.
First glimpse of the caves
Finally up the mountain to cave level. Close enough to see walls in the cave mouths.
First cave. No exterior entrance here.
2nd cave. Main entrance. The arch and the wood are all original. About 700 years old.
Coming up the ladder, on the left, is a large room about 4 feet high with no walls. The ceiling is dark from smoke. There are several visible areas where people gathered sitting on the ground around fires.
At the top of the ladder on the second level of the dwelling. Turning around I can see down and out the mouth of the cave.
Lovely architecture and evidence of advanced building skills.
From the highest room in the city looking back in the direction I’d come.
Looking ahead toward a smaller cave.
Walking to the outer wall of this room and looking along the outer walls.
Back to ground level, another room with no entrance.
A ladder leading to this second story portion of the city. The mother and daughter in the photo give a sense of the scale. The cave below seems to have been used for storage. There’s evidence of mortar on the walls near the entrance.
After getting Sherman we take a walk along the river that runs below the Cliff Dwellings. The river runs year round.
I take the slow road back to the City of Rocks. A lovely drive through the wilderness…