The Visitors Center is about a mile from where the climb to the Gila Cliff Dwellings actually begins. The hike is supposed to be a half mile up and another half mile down making a large loop up through a narrow canyon to the top of the cliff and then back down the back of the cliff. The first two photos are of the cliff but the dwellings are hid from this angle. They are on the back of the cliff.
Ranger Bill was nice enough to talk to us, telling us what we could expect on our hike. I still wasn't sure I wanted to go all the way up and I knew it would be quite a trip. Sarah had volunteered to go all the way and take photos. But deep in my mind I knew I wanted to do this. The cliff dwelling we something that were very special to my mom and our family as my mom had come here in 1944 before there was really any road. I knew this would be my last chance to ever do this. I am 65 and know that my mom and dad would be pleased to know that I did this in their memory.
The Gila River as seen from the first bridge you cross. This bridge was about a hundred yards long. The other bridges weren't near as long, some just a few feet as they let us criss-cross back and forth over the little creek that wound down the canyon. I am sure it was the river and the creek as well as the easy defense of this canyon home that the cliff dwellers found so favorable.
These collared lizards were everywhere and quite friendly. You can see the dark ring around his neck that gives them their name.