Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is at the very end of NM 15, at the moment the cliff dwellings themselves are inaccessible due to repair work being carried out on a bridge.
While the dwellings are inaccessible it is possible to visit a site not usually open to the public, the TJ Ruin Site. There are two tours a day from the visitor centre with a maximum of 20 people allowed on each visit, 10 places are pre-bookable by contacting the visitor centre direct.
Those going on the tour met at the visitor centre and followed the volunteers as they drove us through locked gates to the site. We were asked to walk in single file in order to cause as little damage as possible.
Despite that at some point, someone still walked over a pot sherd without seeing it on the path.
As with the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site, there is very little to see, apart from rocks which may be the foundations of buildings, but as no excavation has been carried out on the site at the moment it is all guesswork. At some point in the future the park service hope to use non-invasive techniques to carry out a survey.
Pot sherds litter the site and ants turn up more as they build their ant hills.
The site is on a mesa overlooking the Gila river and gets the sun all day so you can quite see why people chose to live there. A developer would absolutely love the place.
We visited the cliff dwellings years ago, and would’ve liked to do so again, but we enjoyed the opportunity to visit this usually off limits site.
Have fun, we are!