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.
NPS Photo by Barry Nielsen
The most common large mammals in the area are black bear, mountain lion, elk, and mule deer. Smaller mammals abound and include rabbits, jackrabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, beaver, and so forth. A program involving large mammals, that is of particular note is the reintroduction of the endangered Mexican gray wolf (canis lupus baileyi) into the nearby Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which consists of areas in Arizona and New Mexico. This reintroduction within the subspecies' historic range is the first step toward recovery of the Mexican wolf in the wild. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area consists of the entire Apache and Gila National Forests in east-central and west-central New Mexico. Wolves are reintroduced into a primary recovery area in Arizona, but are allowed to disperse throughout the entire recovery area. If the [US Fish and Wildlife] Service finds it to be both necessary for recovery and feasible, it will reintroduce wolves into the White Sands Wolf Recovery Area, which also lies within the subspecies' historic range. This area consists of all land within the boundaryof the White Sands Missile Range in south-central New Mexico together with land immediately to the west of the missile range. By this rule, the [US Fish and Wildlife] Service classifies wolves to be re-established in these areas as a nonessential experimental population under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.
The following mammals listed in the brochure "Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles and Mammals...A Species Checklist for the Gila National Forest", which can be obtained by calling the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center at (575) 536-9461 or click on the link below.
Unless otherwise noted, abundance of each species ranges from uncommon to fairly common to common. Residency, the time of the year in which the species normally appears, is listed only for bats.
Did You Know?
Stone axes made it challenging for the ancient Puebloans of the Mogollon area to cut down trees for vigas (roof beams) in the Gila Cliff Dwellings. So, before chopping the tree trunks, they would burn a small fire around the base of the trunk to weaken it so their axes could cut it down more easily.