State: New Mexico
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Where we stayed: City of Rocks State Park
We debated if we should make the two hour drive out to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument or just skip it. After reading over tripadvisor's things to do in Silver City (the closest interestingish town), we decided to add another pin to the kids' growing junior ranger badge collection.
All the guide books (and online posts) said to take the longer scenic route north from Silver City on Hwy 15. It's a windy road and thankfully no one barfed. I drove. So it was a prettyish drive, but not too different from any other mountain road we've driven in California. So I would say do it if you have lots of time to kill and want to see a few trees, otherwise, the longer but less windy road (Hwy 35) will do the trick too.
We stopped at the visitor center to pick up junior ranger books and watched a video on the area. Then hopped back into our car and drove 5 minutes to the trail head for the walk to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings. There were volunteers and rangers at the trail head and up at the dwellings to help answer any questions.
It was a nice little hike on a dirt path and over a few bridges. Brrrr, cold in the shade, but once we got in the sun, the jackets came off.
The Gila (pronounced hee-la) Cliff Dwellings were not as expansive as Bandelier Cliff Dwellings, and they only had maybe one or two ladders, but it was still a cool site to see. And there were hot springs right down the road... so, something to look forward to after the hike and before our long drive back home.
Gila Hot Springs Campground
Just go past Jackass Lane. ;) We did not camp here, so we had to pay $5/person to use the hot springs. I think there were 3 pools...we just tried one since one was being refilled and was too hot. We shared our pool with a group of four friends who were traveling together. One guy was a chef and ended up whipping up dinner for their entire hotel when they were snowed in at Carlsbad Caverns the week before. FYI - pools become clothing optional after dark.
You can use this steaming hot dragon water to rinse off your flip flops after your soak.
They say the hot spring waters have mystical hair-growing properties.
New Year's Eve Polar Plunge - snow run off... brrrrr!
I'll be sharing our travel plans, some reviews, cooking ideas (because I know you are all jealous of my easy-bake oven), and ... oh who am I kidding?! I'll be lucky to get our photos posted!