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Monday, March 02, 2009

Gila National Forest & Cliff Dwellings

We had a great day; albeit a long one, but it was good. I finally got myself back to Curves! I hate to admit this and if you tell anybody, I'll deny it, but I'd actually missed the exercise! Yes, I said it. Anyway, I was glad to get back to it. Gotta work those breakfasts off! :)

Speaking of breakfast, after we ate a good one of pancakes, eggs & sausage, we took a 100 mile drive north to the Gila National Forest where there are cliff dwellings dating back to the 1200s. Yes, the 1200s!! We saw beautiful vistas as we climbed higher and higher. At one point we were at an elevation of more than 7500 feet.

Once we arrived at the trail head of the Cliff Dwellings Monument, we had to walk up to them. At the steepest part of the walk, we had to climb 180 feet to reach the top. Needless to say, I was glad to get there!

The inside of these caves is absolutely mind-boggling. To think that these people could built such dwellings that would last hundreds and hundreds of years is just amazing. Our society thinks it is so advanced and intelligent and our buildings don't last nearly as long as these. Plus, they knew that to build inside the caves as they did was good for temperature control as the overhang of the cliffs kept the cold out and the warm in, depending upon the season. Standing in those dwellings is very humbling and makes you rethink what you believe about our early ancestors.

The Mogollon (pronounced mo-go-yone or muggy-own) people built these dwellings. There were hunter/gatherers and the Gila Valley was full of game and fertile soil in which they could plant their crops. They built inside the caves using rock, timbers from trees and mortar. There are about 40 rooms spread among several caves. They didn't stay very long. It is estimated by the age of the trees that the dwellings were built sometime between 1276 and 1287, but evidence shows they were gone by 1300.

Once the Mogollon were gone, it seems that no one lived here for more than one hundred years. Around 1500 the Apache moved into the area. Geronimo was even born in the Gila Valley in the 1820s. After that, of course, white men came and took the land and settled it as ranches and farms and, ultimately, forced the Apaches onto reservations. How sad for this country and how little we've learned from our mistakes.

We also walked along another trail which led to a rockface where several pictographs could be seen. These are reported to be from the same era as the cliff dwellings. Amazing!!

As always, if you'd like to see more pictures, check out our site. Enjoy.

It's great to spend this kind of time together. It was a beautiful day, weather-wise - sunny & 75 degrees - and we were privy to some of the more ancient places in this country. Doesn't get much better than that!

Until the next time . . .


  1. Anonymous12:07 AM

    Hey Terry,
    I read your blog all the time. I worked with Jim and Ellie Meacham. I was going to tell you to take the pictures that you took today and have calanders made and sell them. also have picture puzzles made and sell them too. pays for the trip. Respectfully,
    Gary weaver

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Gary! I never thought about doing that - don't think our pics are of that quality. But, it's nice to know our readers like them.

    Thanks also for reading the blog. While I write it mostly for our own history as well as for family, it's cool that so many others enjoy it, too.

  3. That is awesome!