Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who built the Gila Cliff Dwellings?

A: Ancestors of Puebloan people who once lived in the Mogollon area built the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The Mogollon area includes portions of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. The Mogollon area was defined by archeologists due to similar pottery, architectural, and other physical remains of past human activity. The name comes from the nearby Mogollon Mountains which were named after a Spanish governor in the 1700s.

Q: How do you say Mogollon?

A: Because it is a Spanish word, the Os are long and the double Ls are silent: Moe-go-yone. However, Mogollon is one of those words that has taken on several regional pronunciations and is sometimes pronounced Muggy-own or Muggy-on.

Q: How do you say Gila?

A:Gila is another Spanish word. The G is pronounced as an H: Hee-la.

Q: Does it really take two hours to drive to the cliff dwellings from Silver City?

A: The 43 mile drive on Highway 15 from Silver City is paved, steep, narrow, twisting and beautiful. You will enjoy the drive much more if you are not rushing. Many hills and turns require shifting down to lower gears in order to avoid overheating your brakes. Slower vehicles should pull over to allow faster vehicles to pass. Between Silver City and the junction with Highway 35, Highway 15 does not have a center dividing line -- use extra caution around the curves. This section of Highway 15 is NOT RECOMMENDED for RVs over 25 feet or trailers over 20 feet. Use Highway 35 as an alternate route to avoid the most "adventurous" section of Highway 15.

Q: Can you see the dwellings from the road?

A: No. The cliff dwellings are only visible from a trail which is not accessible for strollers or wheelchairs. It is an easy half mile hike along the canyon bottom to a viewpoint of the dwellings. To reach the dwellings themselves, you must hike 175 feet up a rocky trail.

Q: Can we go inside the dwellings?

A: Yes! We just ask that you help us protect the 700 year old walls by staying on the trail at all times and not touching the structures.

Q: Where can we eat?

A: There is no food or drink (other than water) allowed on the trail or in the dwellings. There are picnic tables at the Gila Visitor Center, Upper and Lower Scorpion Campgrounds, and near the cliff dwellings trailhead. If you don't bring food and snacks with you, you may find limited packaged food at Doc Campbell's Post located 3 miles from the Gila Visitor Center. The closest restaurant is at the intersection of NM 15 and NM 35, about 1/2-hour away. Another restaurant is along NM 35 in Mimbres, about 1 hour away. There are several restauraunts in Silver City, about 1 1/2-hours away. Some restaurants may be seasonally operated, so please call ahead to confirm availability.

Q: Why don't you have any trash cans?

A: This is a Pack-It-In, Pack-It-Out area. You are responsible for taking all your trash back to town. This helps us keep the wild animals that live in the surrounding Gila Wilderness from digging through garbage cans and invading the campgrounds. (And once you see Highway 15, you'll understand why garbage trucks don't like to drive up here.)

Last updated: March 19, 2013

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Mailing Address:

26 Jim Bradford Trail
Mimbres, NM 88049


(575) 536-9461

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