Silver City – Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Superintendent Steve Riley announced today that the Cliff Dwellings Unit of the National Monument is anticipated to be closed from October 24, 2011 until December 24, 2011 due to major repairs to the West Fork Bridge on New Mexico Highway 15, one mile south of the Cliff Dwellings.
The two month closure will allow A.S. Horner, Incorporated of Albuquerque under contract with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to reconstruct the north approach and both abutments of the bridge, damaged by flooding in 2008 and 2010.
To allow visitors to a unique experience during this closure, guided tours will be available at no cost at the TJ Unit of the Monument, an unexcavated 250 room Classic Mimbres pueblo located just east of the Gila Visitor Center. The Site is accessible ONLY by guided tour, and tour times and the number of tours offered each day will be determined in the next week or so as staffing is scheduled. For up to date information please call the Gila Visitor Center at 575-536-9461 or visit the Monument's web site at www.nps.gov/gicl. Tours are limited to 20 persons and take approximately one hour and participant MUST be at the Gila Visitor Center for orientation one half hour before tour times. Visitors should come dressed for winter weather, as the mesa top can be cold and windy and wear sturdy hiking boots as the ground is rough and can be muddy.
To visit partially excavated Mimbres pueblos and gather more information on the Mimbres people, visit the Mimbres Cultural Historic Site just off of New Mexico Highway 35 at mile 3.5, at 14 Sage Road. The Site is open daily from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and offers not only an interpretive walking tour through the prehistoric sites, but a chance to visit two late 19th century ranch houses and exhibits, some on loan from the Contact Station at the Cliff Dwellings trail head. Visit their web site at www.mimbresculturesite.com for additional information.
During this period for the protection of the Cliff Dwellings they will be formally CLOSED to all visitors so that staff can be redirected to tours at the TJ site. Persons entering the Cliff Dwellings at any time during this period are subject to ticketing and fines.