• Visitors hike along the base of the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

    Gila Cliff Dwellings

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • Thunderstorm Safety Closures Possible

    When thunderstorms are nearby, the trail to and from the Gila Cliff Dwellings is closed. Please check local forecasts before you visit. Thunderstorms are typically more likely in the afternoon. On some afternoons it is not possible to reopen. More »

  • Guided Tours Currently Not Available Every Day

    Due to a current shortage of volunteer staffing, guided tours of the cliff are not offered every day. Check at the visitor center upon arrival. Volunteers at the Cliff Dwellings will still be available to answer questions during your self guided tours.

Feast or Famine? Document C

Document: C

Title: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument: An Administrative History

Author: peter Russell

Source: Book

… the Homestead Act, passed in 1862, was designed to encourage settlement in the remote reaches of the newly-acquired West. The lure of 160 acres of free land was tempting… the settlers soon developed ways to capitalize on the local natural resources. Homesteaders tried their hands at a variety of occupations including cattle ranching, farming, trapping, prospecting and selling wild game to minors. Despite the natural beauty and abundance of land, it was not an easy place to make a living.

To easterners who were accustomed to well-watered, fertile land, 160 acres sounded like a dream come true and a sure avenue to success. The reality was different. The terrain, soil and climate in this part of New Mexico were not nearly as conductive to farming.

… this period also saw the development of several large cattle ranches. Settlers' failing homesteads became new opportunities for wealthy ranchers…

… in some cases it was simply a matter of moneyed ranchers buying land from failing farmers.

Russell, Peter. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument:. Santa Fe: 1992. Print.

Did You Know?

Mexican Grey Wolf

Black bears, mountain lions and wolves are the largest predators in the area around the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. There are 107 bird species, 387 plant species, 37 mammal species, and 21 amphibian/reptile species at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.