Gila Cliff Dwellings Travel Guide

Browse 2 travel reviews, 1 travel blogs and 40 travel photos from real travelers to Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Gila Cliff Dwellings Overview

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a 533 acre park supervised by the National Park Service. The park was established in 1907 to preserve a unique series of habitats built by the Mogollon People between 100 AD and 1300 AD, There are also the remains of later settlements established by the Apache. Chiricahua Apache chief Goyahkla better known as Geronimo was born by the headwaters of the Gila River in what is now part of the park. When the park was first established, the park service did not fully realize just what they were preserving. After a number of years and several archeological surveys the Mogollon culture have been determined to be a distinct and important prehistoric culture living in southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and adjacent areas of northern Mexico and western Texas. The Mogollon settled in an area centered on the headwaters of the Gila River and what is now the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. More than 103 prehistoric sites have been identified within several miles of these headwaters. The monument includes about 45 of these sites. The prehistoric sites preserved within the monument include: Archaic rock shelters through Early and Late Period Pit Houses and Classic Pueblo periods up to an Apache site. The monument is on the edge of the area settled by the Mimbres Culture which is best known for its beautiful pottery. The Gila Cliff Dwellings, the main attraction in the park, dates from the Tularosa phase which is more common north of here around the town of Reserve. The TJ Ruins, also in the park, are from the Classic Mimbres phase. Having these two different phases so close together geographically gives clues about the interaction of these peoples. Although the cliff dwellings themselves had been looted pretty thoroughly before the park became a protected area some of the other, more hidden sites, are among the best preserved Mogollon sites in the country. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is surrounded by the Gila Wilderness which was established in 1924 and encompasses 872 square miles.