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Secret Cliff Dwellings in the Gila that Will Surprise You

A Polite Notice on the dwellings: The Gila National Forest cliff dwellings described below are located via private land and can only be explored at our New Mexico guest ranch. Exclusive access is available to all our guests. If you were searching for the cliff dwellings near Silver City, we’re glad you found us! The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is about 60 miles from our property. For the adventurous at heart, you just stumbled upon New Mexico’s best-kept secret, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch.


Our Dwelling Canyon Trail is a phenomenal rarity. There are few places in the world where you can turn back time, travel thousands of years, and see it all in one day. That’s the magic of the Gila National Forest. Like your favorite movie, you can ride the terrain year after year, and the land always gifts you with an unexpected treasure.

As your expert guides and wranglers, we can’t wait to share New Mexico’s boundless beauty with you. As a “thank you” for your interest in supporting the area’s history, culture, and our family-owned ranch, we’re happy to help plan your adventure at no cost. Choose your travel dates, areas of interests, and desired length of stay with our easy-to-use digital concierge. Our ranch owner, Meris, will map out a free personalized vacation itinerary for you within the next 24 to 48 hours. Then, open your inbox for the New Mexico adventure of a lifetime.

YES! SEND ME MY CUSTOMIZED ADVENTURE

Discover Gila Cliff Dwellings on the Dwelling Canyon Trail

About The Dwelling Canyon Trail Ride

The Dwelling Canyon Trail Ride is one of our favorite places to share with our guests. The trail itself neighbors our ranch, and we explore it in the most incredible way possible⁠— by horseback! The history of this canyon goes back more than 1,000 years. Today, you can still see the hand-painted pictographs the Mimbres people created. On this trail, we also observe the ruins of cliff dwellings. Sometimes, we even stumble upon pottery shards that ancient civilizations left behind.

A Colorful History on the Land & Cliff Dwellings

Basque Sheepherders

More than 100 years ago, Basque Sheepherders brought sheep through the Gila National Forest area. With lush green grass and spring-fed water that runs through Taylor Creek, the Basque discovered a heavenly sanctuary. Here, their master craftsmanship is apparent in the stone shelters that remain. Evidence of the Basque’s passage through the area is everywhere, especially in the cliff dwellings which they adapted for their use!

Tin Mining

In the 1930s and 40s, tin mining took place in the very same canyon that the Basque called home. Incredibly, the canyon is still full of claim markers, old equipment, and evidence of the mining process. We are grateful to have the remains of one of the only tin mining operations in the United States!

Native American Culture

At our ranch, you can observe historical treasures that date as far back as 200 to 1150 AD. When we hit the trail, we visit the pit houses and cliff dwellings the Mimbres people once occupied. We find their arrowheads and pottery shards often in the Gila, and hand-painted pictographs are still visible on the rock walls. The Gila is also the birthplace of Geronimo, a famous Chiricahua Apache warrior. This bountiful land is where he grew up during peaceful times and where the Apaches once roamed.

Tips for Your Trip

  • The weather in the Gila enjoys an average of 280 sunny days a year, so it’s always a great time to explore. Remember, no matter when you visit, nights are always much cooler than days. Pack plenty of layers, and you’ll be good to go! For detailed information on the climate, take a look at our Weather page. Our ranch is open from the beginning of March through mid-November.
  • Directions: Our New Mexico dude ranch is just off the Geronimo Trail, one of the scenic byways designated by the state. A destination well worth the trip, we are four hours from either Albuquerque or El Paso airports and a two-hour scenic drive from Truth or Consequences. Although our address is Winston, we are approximately 90 minutes beyond this point. For more information and a detailed directions from nearby major cities, visit our Location & Directions page.
  • To learn more about New Mexico’s cliff dwellings, check out the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. It is about 60 miles from our ranch, although you would want to plan a nights stay in Silver City if combining with a visit to our ranch.

Map Out Your Next Adventure at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

After decades of exploring the land with our guests and horses, the Gila’s history, wilderness, and mysteries still awe us with every new day. Ancient pottery pieces found on Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch: Native American culture and history.We take pride in providing an authentic New Mexico guest ranch experience for all our guests, complete with warm hospitality and Southwestern charm. Your stay always includes unlimited horseback riding, three home-style meals, fresh baked cookies and complimentary refreshments, evening campfires or other entertainment, and comfortable cabin amenities.

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