Day 5 – City of Rocks and Gila Cliff Dwellings

Another night with no heat!  Yeesh!  At least now, we know why.  But, just in case, we purchased a small space heater today.  And we slept LATE.  I mean LATE!  7:30 a.m.  After nice hot showers down at the office, we spent some time with one of the men who works here, who came up to see if he could help us get our hot water working.  No luck.

About 10:15, we set off on the road to see some of the surroundings.  First stop was Fort Bayard, an old 9th Cavalry (“Buffalo Soldier”) post… once commanded by General John Pershing.  Unfortunately, there’s not much to see there anymore, except the National Cemetery.  From there, we set off to see another old Army post a few miles away, but there was even LESS at that site. 

Next stop was City of Rocks State Park.  This is an interesting rock formation that was formed by a very large volcanic eruption that occurred 34.9 million years ago.  The eruption was over 1000 times larger than the Mount Saint Helens eruption of 1980, and took months, possibly even years.  There were two phases of the eruption, the first was the plinian phase.  This phase produced large volumes of pumice.  The next phase, the ignimbrite, over 1000 cubic kilometers of rock ash, and gas (twice the volume of Lake Erie) was blown in to the sky.  This material rained to the ground over 132 miles away, creating City of Rocks. 

We hiked around the rocks for about a half hour, over a mile.

We then drove a very beautiful road through mountainous terrain, with a river along the side of the road for much of the route, and eventually headed on up the 45 mile road to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  Though only 45 miles, this road winds through mountains and pine forests and is so windy we both agreed we’d not want to tow the trailer up it!  Our initial opinion was confirmed when we hit the summit, then began an 8 mile stretch of hairpin curves with cliffs dropping off on both sides of the road.

These dwellings were built by the Mogollon (pronounced Mo-go-yone) people over 700 years ago… and yet, they remained at the site for only about 30 years.  However, the caves were inhabited for thousands of years before that.  About 1500, the Chiricahua Apache moved in to the area.  In the early 1820’s, Geronimo was born near this site.

We enjoyed the hike around this formation as well, about 1.5 miles… and very steep.  I’m getting good exercise on this trip!

We’re back now for the night.  Scott grilled some steak and we opened a bottle of wine. 

City of Rocks
City of Rocks
Scott at City of Rocks
Scott at City of Rocks
Eric at City of Rocks
Eric at City of Rocks
On the Road to Gila
On the Road to Gila
Scott at Gila
Scott at Gila
Some Gila Cliff Dwellings
Some Gila Cliff Dwellings
Wouldn't ya know it?  Graffitti!
Wouldn't ya know it? Graffitti!
Pine forest on road back to Silver City
Pine forest on road back to Silver City

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