Gila Cliff Dwellings Reopens To Limited Access

Contact(s): Steve Riley

A 35-foot long temporary foot bridge placed across the West Fork Bridge will now permit visitor access to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The bridge, on loan from New Mexico State Parks, Elephant Butte State Park, will allow visitors to safely cross the damaged portion of the approach to the West Fork Bridge. Please note that access to the Monument may change if future flood waters cause significant additional damage.

Visitors to the Monument must park their vehicles at Woody’s Corral and then hike or bike on the closed road for one mile to the trailhead. Please plan on allowing at least three hours to visit the site, as accessing the Cliff Dwellings will now be 3 miles round-trip. The Wilderness Ranger District fire crew from the Gila National Forest and National Park Service staff finished temporary reconstruction of damaged portions of the Cliff Dweller Canyon Trail, but visitors should still be prepared for icy and muddy conditions.

The Cliff Dwellings will be staffed daily from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and while the gate to the Cliff Dwellings closes at 4:00 p.m., visitors have another hour in which to complete their visit. Visitors should plan on beginning the hike across the West Fork Bridge from the parking area at Woody’s Corral no later than 3:00 p.m. Please note that there will be no guided tours during this interim period. Entrance fees will be waived until vehicle access can be reestablished.

Both Lower Scorpion Campground and Upper Scorpion Campground have been reopened for pack-in camping. The closest potable water can be found at either the Visitor Center or behind the well house at Woody’s Corral. TJ Corral and the West Fork Trail (#151) will be accessible for those wanting to use the trailheads for wilderness travel. Horses and other pack animals will not be permitted to cross the gangway, but are permitted to ford the West Fork of the Gila River.

The highway bridge remains closed to motorized traffic with no estimate of when it may reopen. The New Mexico Department of Transportation hopes to begin reconstruction after March 22, 2010 when engineering design work is complete, water levels in the Gila River permitting. For further information, please contact the Gila Visitor Center at (575) 536-9461