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 on Many Days
Due to a current shortage of volunteer staffing, guided tours of the cliff dwellings are offered only infrequently. Self-guided tours remain available from 9 am to 4 pm MDT daily.
Insects, Spiders, Centipedes, Millipedes
NPS Photo by Barry Nielsen
The insect world in the vicinity of the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the surrounding Gila Wilderness is rich and abundant. In fact, existing field guides are often inadequate to describe the all the species in the area. Insects include a variety of bees, wasps, hornets, beetles, ants, dragonflies, damselflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, moths, mantids, worms, cochineal scales, katydids, lacewings, and flies.
One of the interesting creatures in the forest is the Giant Vinegerone. Visitors often mistake it for a giant scorpion. It is a whip scorpion, not a true scorpion. It has scorpion-like pincers in the front but a non-scorpion whiptail in the back, with no stinger. Common in this area, this creature hides in dark corners and in rarely seen. When approached too closely, it reacts by blasting a stream of vinegar-like acetic acid at the interloper, preferably at the interloper’s eyes, where the liquid produces a burning sensation. The creature's name, appropriately enough, is the Giant Vinegarone.
Did You Know?
The ancient Puebloans of the Mogollon area used the spiny tips of leaves from the agave plant as needles for sewing. This item is in the Visitor Center Museum at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.