After leaving Carlsbad I had to part ways with my Cousin Megan (my latest adventure buddy on this trip.). I had a blast hanging out with Meg on our long drives and spending time with her on hikes. Unfortunately she had to get back to work and so we parted ways in El Paso Texas. She travels for her job and had some things she was working on in the area. I stocked up on some food and gas on the outskirts of El Paso and I was once again on the road.
My drive to the Gila Cliff Dwellings was a very beautiful one. I stopped to watch the sun set into the gold horizon of the Arizona desert. It was a very beautiful sunset so I naturally stayed for a while taking it all in. I got back on the road as it was getting dark and took the slow winding road all the way into the National Monument. I set up camp in a dusty parking lot on the side of the road and crashed for the night.
The next morning I was up early and hiking. I parked and hiked about a mile into the area where the cliff dwellings were carved into the rocks. It was an incredible sight, bending the corner after walking over a small creek and seeing a giant cave with old clay masonry walls. The Gila Cliff Dwellings are huge and it is crazy to think that not that long ago an entire group of people called these small rooms nestled under a giant rock overhang their home. To think what their daily life entailed and how they got through some of the cold nights.
I toured the cliff side dwellings and started my hike back to the truck. Along the way, I made a new friend. Mary was touring the area on her own road trip with her two dogs and we shared some stories and had a great conversation about some awesome places to see. It was great to hear about her adventures and always nice to make new friends.
As I drove south to link up with a highway I was shocked at how beautiful the scenery was. I had made the drive in at night and while I knew it was a windy and hilly road, I had no idea it was so scenic. The road was up on a bluff with some amazing overlooks. I would definitely recommend visiting this National Monument if you have a day to spare.
Next Up… Arches, Moab and Canyonlands…