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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Superintendent Steve Riley recently announced the construction schedule for replacement of the roof on the multi-agency Gila Visitor Center. The project, being undertaken by Pride General Contractors of El Paso, will replace the roof covering on the lobby/museum and offices portions of the main building and the separate restroom building, and remove asbestos-containing materials in the ceiling texture in the lobby and museum. Work is scheduled to begin November 29 on the roofs and December 6 for the asbestos removal. During the asbestos removal work, which may take as long as two weeks, the Visitor Center will be closed and a temporary contact facility will be placed in front of the visitor center. The roof replacement is not expected to impact visitor use of the building except for brief periods when work directly above doorways may require temporary closures. The entire project should be completed before Christmas.
The Cliff Dwellings remain closed and tours of the TJ Site continue to provide visitors the opportunity to examine the above-ground evidence of an unexcavated, 200-room Classic Mimbres pueblo located just east of the Gila Visitor Center. When work on the West Fork Bridge is completed later in December, the Cliff Dwellings will reopen and the TJ tours will be discontinued. The TJ Site is accessible ONLY by guided tour. 1 1/2 hour long tours are offered daily at 11 am and 2 pm and are limited to 20 persons. 10 spaces on each tour may be reserved in advance by calling the Gila Visitor Center at 575-536-9461. Participants MUST be at the Gila Visitor Center by tour times as participants must caravan to the site in their personal vehicles. Reserved spaces are released at that time.
Visitors should come dressed for winter weather, as the mesa top can be cold and windy, and wear sturdy hiking boots, as the ground is rough and can be muddy. For up-to-date information please call the Gila Visitor Center at 575-536-9461 or visit the Monument's web site at www.nps.gov/gicl.
To visit partially excavated Mimbres pueblos and gather more information on the Mimbres people, a visit the Mimbres Cultural Heritage Site just off of New Mexico Highway 35 at mile 3.5, at 14 Sage Road is recommended. The site is open daily from 11 AM top 3 PM with guided tours available on weekends. Visit their web site at www.mimbresculturesite.com for additional information.
Throughout the West Fork Bridge repair project, the Cliff Dwellings remain CLOSED for their protection and so that staff can be redirected to tours at the TJ Site. Persons entering the Cliff Dwellings or Cliff Dweller Canyon at any time during this period are subject to ticketing and fines. The West Fork Trail, #792 through the Cliff Dwellings Unit of the Monument remains open to through traffic for visitors entering the Gila Wilderness.