06-10-2011, 05:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rocky Mountains, USA
beaver and deer know of it...
Slept ‘til 8:30am and then packed up
and drove out by 9:30am, immediately heading East from Snow Lake on FR 142/CR 021 headed for the Beaverhead Work Center 30 miles away on dirt. Easy going on a dry, hard surface thru beautiful mountain country.
After 19 miles, I turned onto FR 59 for 11 more miles towards Beaverhead WC.
FR 59 intersects with FR 150 and there I turned South on 150, now headed for Wall Lake
and then on to Mimbres, NM for fuel about 56 more miles away. Make sure you have enough water and fuel! No joke! You don’t want anything to go wrong out here! The bears are not helpful and the coyotes just try to scam you out of your money and electronics.
These dirt forest roads take you around the perimeter of the Gila Wilderness, but not into it. Vehicular traffic is not allowed inside any designated Wilderness Area. FR 150 drops you out onto paved Hwy 35 and I turned East down the Mimbres River valley a few miles to Mimbres, NM for fuel. Then I reversed direction on Hwy. 35 and went back towards Hwy 15 and the Gila Cliff Dwellings. But first I stopped in Mimbres for a great BBQ lunch at “Brian’s BBQ” on Hwy 35 in Mimbres. I recommend the beef brisket dinner plate, it’s great stuff!
So after lunch, now west on Hwy 35, past Lake Roberts
to the intersection with Hwy 15, then go north on Hwy 15 which will take you into the heart of the Wilderness
and to Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument and the nearby Gila Hot Springs. Got to the Visitor’s Center at the end of Hwy 15 and then paid the $3.00 entry fee and toured the Indian cliff dwellings which date from around 1270 AD. Here are some of the pics.
How amazing the site is, you walk up into a narrow canyon, Gila River nearby, spring fed year round water in a small creek just downhill, mid-cliff cave protection… Another western Eden! It’s worth seeing. You can also walk right thru some of the caves to see the various rooms and views close up and wonder what it was like to live there 700 years ago. Friendly NP docents are there to answer questions.
I spent a while there and then walked back down out of the canyon to my moto.
It was around 5:30pm in the afternoon, so I rode back down Hwy 15 just a few miles to the Gila Hot Springs Ranch. Here is one of the great bargains of the whole trip. The Hot Springs campground charges just $5.00 a night to soak all you want and then camp overnight. Wow! I put my tent up between one of the hot pools and the Gila River was just a few feet away on the other side. There are three clean pools with different water temps and you can fish or take a cold plunge in the Gila. Everything is clean and simple, quiet and friendly and very Zen. I got in the pool with the medium temp, put my feet up for a few hours and later, still in the water, watched the sunset and thought that life was Goooooooood!
There is fuel and food available if you need it at “Doc McDonald’s”, another local institution in Gila Hot Springs, NM. There are other campgrounds, RV parks and a few bed and breakfast places right in that area, but I recommend the Hot Springs Campground for price, location, outdoor hot spring pools and laid back ambience.
Later, looking at my maps before I sleep, I realized I had driven 135-140 miles on dirt and pavement today, but wound up only 15-20 miles, as the raven flies, from Snow Lake. ..and I am right back on the Gila River in the heart of the Wilderness.