We drove on to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. We stopped at the Gila National Forest Ranger Station in Mimbres. The man staffing the desk was very helpful and the office had some really great information and maps.
We passed by a number of signs warning that the roads around Gila Cliff Dwellings and areas to the South would be closed on April 30 & May 3 for the Tour de Gila bike race.
Considering the mountains we were driving on, those cyclists were in for some really tough days.
We stopped at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center to find out more about the site, but they weren’t nearly as useful as the Forest Service post. We headed to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The Cliff Dwellings were once home to the Mogollon people from about 1275 until 1300.
There are six caves that are available to visit. To reach the caves, there is a mile long loop trail that starts out flat as it follows the canyon stream bed. It then becomes very steep and climbs about 180 ft.
I’m really glad we weren’t here in July when it gets really hot. It wasn’t too bad at the end of April. Jon & I have been to Mesa Verde and Keet Seal which are much more impressive. I’m really glad we went and saw Gila Cliff Dwellings but if you are trying to decide which ancient Puebloan site to visit, you’d be more excited about those other locations.
The volunteers were really good and interesting.
Most of the other visitors were either foreign or retired. We saw several people during our walk up to the cliff dwellings that never actually made it up to the cliff dwellings.
I’m so very grateful that I’m not afraid of heights and in the kind of condition that doing this kind of hike doesn’t tax me. And that I am married to someone that is also interested in visiting places like this.
After our visit to the Cliff dwellings, we headed up to a trailhead for a hike up to the Light Feather Hot Springs. I came to these same hot springs with my mom when I was still in college. It was pouring with rain and there were thousands of tiny toads everywhere.
This was a very different visit. It was a beautiful day.
The hike was relatively short and easy. We met a couple of young women who were on a backpacking trip around a loop that included this hot spring and another that we hoped to visit tomorrow.
It rained a little while we were there, but nothing significant. The springs are really hot (140 F), so it is essential to mix the hot springs water with the water from the river (Gila). There are several pools of rock dams that have been built for that purpose.
Of course, every time there is a flash flood (common in the canyons) the pools wash away. We had a very pleasant time sitting and enjoying the scenery and company. After a long time, we headed back.
We planned to hike to Jordan Hot Springs tomorrow, so we decided to camp at Lower Scorpion campgrounds which are near the trailhead. The campground can very easily be summed up as a daytime picnic area where you can camp overnight in the parking lot. After driving around a little, we picked a corner that was relatively flat.
There was one other occupant of the campground, a very, very grumpy older man. He didn’t make eye contact or acknowledge our existence. He crawled into his sleeping bag around 6:30. We had a great dinner and slept well.