3/18 Silver City to Gila Cliff Dwellings to El Paso, TexasUp as early as we could manage, we started the drive north on highway 15 from Silver City to Gila National Forest and the cliff dwellings. It turns out that starting out at 7ish was a good idea (normally I would have pushed to get out earlier to catch the dawn light) because the gate to the cliff dwellings doesn't open until 9am. The road north is only about 45 miles but it winds and dips like an agitated snake. That and and our normally pokey driving makes the trek about two hours long. Due to high water damage this winter the end of the road is closed to the trail head. The hike is normally a short but steep one mile loop. We parked near the washed out bridge following the posted directions at the visitor center a bit down the road. From there the hike round trip is about three miles. The morning was nice and cool yet, and we were only the second visitors of the day. The first part of the hike up a narrow canyon with lots of small foot bridges and wild grape vines was fairy tale idyllic. The cliff dwellings have had a long history of looting and defacing so they are well guarded by the park staff. We were met at the trail head by two swell rangers who were eager to answer questions, and to let us know that there was another ranger already up at the site keeping an eye out and waiting to meet us there.
I am glad we made the trek to the site. Even with all of the damage and well meaning restorations of the past 200 years it remains an impressive site. Here I'll let mrs. a-go-go's pictures do the talking again. Be sure to look for more of her super-duper images at the link at the top right under the header picture. It may take her a bit to get them all up. Here's a sample:
After all that walkin' and pokin' around, we took advantage of a shady picnic table near the visitor center for lunch. Fred, at the Silver City motel, had told us of the hot spring that was in walking distance from the visitor center up the middle fork of the Gila River so we took a short hike to try to find it. Alas, either our directions were faulty or the recent high water had washed out the small pools formed with loose rock walls in the river bank. Oh well, we needed to make tracks for Texas to get at least with in striking distance of Marfa, our destination for Wednesday.The drive got flattish and lonely again as we left the Gila National Forest. Not much to say about the drive but when we at last saw the edge of Texas sign we were tired and snippy. To get the photo of the sign required a small snit about where to stop and how to get off the highway. Guh! It's the sort of inevitable thing on a trip like this I suppose but we got the pic anyhow and cheered up. A bit further and we were in El Paso, Texas where we figured to hunker for the night. A Super 8 motel came along and we bit. I suppose that we should have held out for the Red Roof Inn, because the AC in our room made an icky stink in the room. Boy, that part of El Paso was real unfriendly like to pedestrians as we struck out on foot to find dinner. We settled on Subway after witnessing the lack of anything but fast food in reach. So we didn't get a good impression of El Paso until morning, but that is another post.