• 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.

Insects, Spiders, Centipedes, Millipedes

A photo of a small spider hanging in mid-air near trail from the Cliff Dwellings

Small spider appears to hang in mid-air near trail from the Cliff Dwellings.

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?

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.