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Cliff Dwellings Reopen With Limited Access

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avatar Cliff Dwellings Reopen With Limited Access
February 16, 2010 09:40AM
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (NM)
Cliff Dwellings Reopen With Limited Access

With the placement of a temporary foot bridge on Thursday, February 11th, visitor access to Gila Cliff Dwellings is now possible via a one mile hike or bicycle ride up New Mexico Highway 15 from the West Fork Bridge to the trailhead. The cliff dwellings accordingly reopened on Saturday. Access across the damaged north approach will be over a 35-foot-long gangway on loan from Elephant Butte State Park, installed by NPS and USFS staff. A Wilderness Ranger District fire crew from the Gila National Forest and NPS staff finished temporary reconstruction of damaged portions of the Cliff Dweller Canyon Trail and removed ice up to the cliff dwellings on Wednesday. While the cliff dwellings will be staffed daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as is normal for this time of year, there will be no scheduled tours and entrance fees will be waived until vehicle access can be reestablished. Lower and Upper Scorpion Campgrounds are open to pack-in camping and all trailheads into the Gila Wilderness in the area are open. Visitors must be at the Cliff Dwellings trailhead by 4 p.m. and should plan on beginning the hike across the West Fork Bridge from the parking area at Woody’s Corral by 3 p.m. No water or electricity is available above the bridge due to damage to utility lines when the approach began eroding, so visitors should fill water bottles at Woody’s Corral or the Gila Visitor Center. Access may change if future flood waters cause significant additional damage to either approach, which would force removal of the foot bridge or make the highway bridge’s south approach unsafe. 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 22nd, when engineering design work is complete – water levels in the Gila River permitting.
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