Gila National Forest, New Mexico

I will go as far as to say that it is unlikely that you will ever find yourself in Silver City, New Mexico.  It’s not really a destination, it’s not on the way to anywhere (that I know of), and it’s not very accessible.  There’s really not a whole lot to do there.  But if you head 2 hours into the forest outside of Silver City, you will find an incredible place: The Gila Cliff Dwellings.

I just so happened to find myself in Silver City for a week last fall while Justin was there working.  I went along for the ride because I love new places, and I ALWAYS prefer a road trip to my couch.  After 2 days, I had exhausted all attractions that the city itself had to offer.  I visited the museum, strolled along main street, perused a stiflingly hot antique store that never ended, and snapped a few pictures of the local adobe church.  I also attempted to spend some time in the public library, but they didn’t have any chairs for people to sit in.  Seriously?  Who does that?

So I started to hatch a new plan.

I majored in archaeology, did you know that?  I bet you did, I’ve only mentioned it a hundred times.  I had read about the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and learned about them in school.  I knew they were out there somewhere, and I found out exactly where they were when I googled “things to do in Silver City”.  In the beginning, I opted out of visiting the site because the National Parks webpage described it as being 2 hours away from Silver City, on a tiny narrow windy road that was at times impassable. I knew there would be no cell service, and I was scared to go by myself.  By my third day in Silver City, I was so bored that I decided to throw caution to the wind and headed for the hills, listening to “The Help” on audiobook.

What I did not expect was for the drive to be so beautiful.  It was super winding, like they said, but really didn’t seem to be very dangerous.  It was late October, and all the leaves were at their best ever colors.  Silver City is like Albuquerque, desert ugly.  Just sayin.  But the Gila Forest is not that way AT ALL.  It was lush and green, and looked like it should have been in Lord of the Rings or something like that.

So I chugged along for a  good long while, listening to my book and stopping every 10 feet to take pictures.  There was literally no one else on the road, so whenever I wanted to stop I just did.  The solitude was actually a little bit off-putting, and at one point I thought I might be lost… but I wasn’t.  The road crept up farther and farther into the mountains, and the leafy forests gave way to endless stands of lodgepole pines.  Lodgepoles are my very favorite kind of pine tree, they remind me of when my family used to stay in Grand Lake when I was little.  Every summer, without fail, we packed the car and headed for the Grand Lake Lodge, where we stayed in cabins, rented boats, and played mini golf.

I really relished being on my own out in the woods.  It’s not very often (and by not often I mean never) that I do something like this by myself, and even though the lack of communication ability made me nervous, it was wonderful to be able to take my time on the trip, and not be on anyone’s schedule but my own.

Despite my initial fears, I did finally reach the National Park.  I was initially going to make this all one big long post, but it would have been WAY too big and WAY too long, so we’ll talk about the cliff dwellings (which were totally sweet) tomorrow.  See you then!

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1 Comment

  1. […] a few weeks ago I told you about my trip to the Gila National Forest.  The original plan was to directly follow it up with a post about what I DID while I was there […]

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