"Gila "IS" A Real Wilderness Setting" Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument by painterdave

A Smaller Mesa Verde Experience With Less Tourists

The man who discovered and wrote about these dwellings was Adolph Bandelier in 1884. There is another native American dwelling place near Los Alamos which is named after Bandelier. This area has been protected since 1907.
Tree ring plugs removed from timbers use in the dwellings indicate that they were cut close to 1270 to 1280. The people who lived here are called the Mogollon People.
There are 40 rooms within the six caves.
By the time you reach this National Park you will realize that you are as close to "wilderness" as you can get in America. Be sure and gas up before you leave the main highway, as I didn't see any gas stations within an hour of the park.
I recommend going in the late Fall. When we were there in latter October there were only 5 other tourists at the dwellings site. So you can get the feel of the place and not have to wait for photo opportunities that are blocked by other tourists in the way.
Don't wander off the trail without letting the ranger know. People get lost very easily and sometimes aren't found until it is too late. Included here below is part of an article was from Jan. 15, 2007. Don't let this happen to you. Plan ahead.
Read up on Geronimo, southwest Indian history and desert animals before you go. Don't arrive in the area after dark. It is difficult to find things, and especially watch out for the javelinas who come into camping areas after dark.

A View of the Dwellings

One of the great things about this monument is that they let you go inside and view close up of the houses. You can get a great feel of what it was like to live there.
The trail into the site is not a long one, and you can stop and sit on the benches to rest if you need to. It is not wheel chair accessible. There are stairs cut into the rock that you must climb to get up to the dwellings.
There is a ranger at the dwellings who gives tours and can answer questions. There were also volunteers in the parking lot able to ask questions. A small museum about the animal and vegetation life in the area is at the trail head. Bring water.....
There are parts that are off limits, so follow the signs for directions.
The trail down from the dwellings is pretty much all downhill and easy for anyone who has gotten that far.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A Great Experience Far Out in the U.S.
  • Cons:Gas up before going in
  • In a nutshell:Look down where you are walking!
  • Last visit to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument: Oct 2006
  • Intro Updated Oct 26, 2011
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Reviews (8)

Comments (6)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Very helpful page. We're planning to visit in September :-)

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2007 at 8:31 AM

    Great page with good tips and photos. Have you seen Montezuma Castle National Monument or the Kinishba Ruins in Arizona?

  • nixca316's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2007 at 12:34 AM

    Like Helga, I've never heard of this place before, but I'm interested. =) Thanks!

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2007 at 6:22 PM

    Fortunately we were at Gila Cliff Dwellings when there was a little ice on the ground, so the rattlesnakes weren't crawling. I would have loved to have seen one - as long as I saw him before he saw me.

  • Helga67's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2006 at 3:12 AM

    Never heard of the place, except for the rattlesnakes and Gila monsters it looks interesting.

  • Janani's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2006 at 11:42 AM

    It seems like a fascinating place to visit


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