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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Ancient people have called these mountains and canyons home for thousands of years, and they created unique living structures which can be seen today.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, north of Silver City, preserves Mogollon cliff dwellings which were home to prehistoric people. Here, visitors can take a gentle one-mile trail to an overlook to peer at two prominent ruins and a collection of smaller sites in the Gila Wilderness. In all, there are 46 rooms spread across five caves; the area was probably home to 10 to 15 families and it is not known why the site was abandoned.

This rugged, arid region features steep-walled canyons which the Mogollon people used as living sites – they were naturally protected from enemies and predators. One set of ruins, the TJ Ruins, is located on a bluff overlooking the Gila River. It is believed that the Mogollon people occupied this area from around 1275 into the early 14th century. Other ruins include the Javelina House, West Fork Ruin, Three Mile Ruin, and the Cosgrove Ruin.

Besides the dwellings, visitors can hike through forests of Ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. There are hot springs nearby which are remnants of the area’s volcanic history.