Sunday, May 3, 2015

New Mexico: Gila Hot Springs Ranch and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

(By Greg - Mid April 2015) After our visits to Faywood Hot Springs and Silver City, we headed on our way up to the Gila Cliff Dwelings National Monument.

We were warned not to take Hwy 15 as it is just too darn twisty and slow, so we took Hwy 152 to Hwy 35, which is said to take about the same amount of time, being less twisty and all.

It turned out to be a very scenic drive. Parts of it are designated as some sort of scenic tour. Karen and I call them "flower roads, ahhh."

First you come to a view point for the Santa Rosa copper mine.  You can also kinda of make out the "Kneeling Nun" on the cliff above the mine.  It's a cliff structure that really does look like a kneeling nun.

The drive is quite scenic to Gila Cliffs!

Nice forest views.

A view point.

View point.

 As we drove into the dirt access road to the Gila Hot Springs Ranch we passed a bunch of cute goats. The ranch also has horses that can be taken out for public trail rides.

Cliffs above our campsite.

Our spot #11

Portable honey wagon.

Campground layout.

Water Analysis of the hot springs.
This is a 360 photosphere that you can move around in:

In the above photospere you can see two of the Gila Hot Springs Ranch - River Campground hot spring pools. There is a third one behind the one to the north.

Very hot water spout for taking to clean dishes, wash hair etc.

The Gila river view from our campsite.

Our campsite.

Greg cooking a hot dog on our great new portable propane fire pit. (Available in our Amazon Store.)

Karen snug in our van bed after a good soak.

A monkey trekker enjoying one of the hot spring pools.

Karen and her Monkey Trekker friend.

A Gila Hot Springs Ranch pool.

Monkey Trekker!

Greg enjoying the morning sun next to the Gila River.
We pulled into the Gila Hot Springs Ranch - River Campground at 5pm. We snagged the last campsite, #11.  The ranch is owned and run by a really nice older ranching couple who keep a darn sharp eye on things during the day.

Periodically, the river area suffers from flooding during either spring or during the summer monsoon. Because of this the owners have made everything portable so they can move stuff out during flooding periods.  The bathroom "honey wagon" is on wheels as is the check/payment in booth.

The last flood big flood in Sept 2013 really changed things.  The pools were filled with rocks and silt that had to be dug out. It looks really nice right now.

There currently is a day use fee of $5 and a camping fee of $6 per person.  If you camp, the fee includes use of the pool 24 hours a day.  We soaked first, right after we arrived and then again after night fall.

It was very cold but the night sky was great! I need a "water" telescope so that we can peer into the sky while soaking.

After a good long soak, we scurried back to the van and jumped into our many piles of covers.  It was 26 degrees out that night, but we were warm and snug.  (We always say we are the "Princess and the Pea" in our huge pile of blankets that we bring for winter camping.)

In the morning we cooked our left over Adobe Springs doggy bag food and then headed for the Gila Cliff Dwellings just up the road.

Entrance sign.

Geronimo was born near here.

This is a 360 photosphere that you can move around in:

Gila Cliff Dwelling.  Amazing!

Inside a cliff dwelling

Outside a cliff dwellling.

Very scenic.

Enjoying some potato salad, chips and hummus.
My whole life, I have always looked forward to visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings having heard about it in school.  It's in a remote part of New Mexico.  It's not a day trip. We finally made it and it was totally worth it.  It's pretty outstanding. We've been to Mesa Verde and those cliff dwelling are spectacular too, but there is something about these and their location the is extra special.

There is a one mile hike that takes you up a canyon and then up a bunch of stairs to the cliff dwellings.  Do it while you are still good at going up and down uneven rock stairways.

I'm looking forward to returning and spending more time in this area.  There are some great hikes yet to be had!

We stayed in campsite #11.  I recommend getting a more private river side campsite if you go.  These are numbers: 1,2,3,6,11.  #6 is close to the north pool but is not as private as others.  4 and 5 are not bad but they are close together.  They would be good if you are going with others.  7,8,9 would make a big group site, but would not be private as individual sites.  10 and 12 are away from the river but are not bad. They do take reservations.


Friday, May 1, 2015

New Mexico: Faywood Hot Springs, Silver City

(By Greg- Mid April 2015) We decided to take a mini-vacation for a long weekend down to Southwestern New Mexico for some warmer weather, hot springs soaking and Indian cliff house exploring. We had a great trip!

Leaving from Los Alamos, we first drove to Truth or Consequences for some gas and tasty food at the A&B drive-in in TorC.  They have an amazing variety of food for an old A&W drive-in.

Next, it was on to Faywood Hot Springs for overnight van camping and a relaxing soak. Faywood is just north of Deming, NM.

This is a 360 photosphere view that you can move around.

Views: Feywood Hot Springs pools by Greg Kendall

The above photo is the southern "clothing optional" pool area.  (There are also some "clothing required" pools just east of these.)  The view of the night-sky from these pools is really fantastic. We saw an awesome display of shooting stars during our late night soak.

This is a 360 photosphere view that you can move around.

Views: Feywood Hot Springs campground pools by Greg Kendall

The above photo is of the full-hookup campground pools.  It's a great place to soak and then head into our nearby electric blanket heated bed in our van.

This is a 360 photosphere view that you can move around.

Views: Feywood Hot Springs source dome by Greg Kendall

Above are the source-water storage tanks on top of a mound in the middle of the Faywood Springs property.  There is a dimly lit walk around the top of this mound that is fun to stroll around at night and view the stars and distant lights.

I suggest that Faywood get some artists in to paint these tanks with each a different theme such as maybe Aliens/UFOs or Constellations or who knows, but they need some paint!  They could be a draw, rather then just dull water tanks.

Above is the full-hookup and tent camping area.  There is a common building with a sink/microwave and a couple big bathrooms.  It has a nice toasty fireplace. You can see a big outdoor fire pit.  Our van is near the hot spring pools building that has a bathroom and two shower rooms. There are also cabins to rent.

We've been to Faywood a few times and it never fails to provide a relaxing experience.  There are a few full-hookup sites.  We like to come here in the winter months to soak and warm up a bit from the cold of Los Alamos.  This year we went twice and both times we lucked out and avoided a cold snow storm back home.  We have an electric blanket in the van that keeps us super toasty on cold winter nights. Faywood is near City of Rocks State Park. We have ridden our bikes and walked to and around the park.

In the morning, after a final soak, we headed for Silver City.  Silver City is a fun town with a neat historic district that provides a pleasant walk.

Our first stop was to the Adobe Springs Cafe where we had an amazing breakfast, one of our top ten breakfasts ever!  The food was just fantastic!

 Karen had the design-your-own omelette.

I had the huevos rancheros with hashbrowns inside.

Wow! is all I can say. It was all super tasty and we had enough to pack a to-go box for breakfast the next morning.  The service was super friendly and attentive.  If you are going through SC at breakfast time, don't miss Adobe Springs!

Next we parked in the historic downtown district and ducked into a couple of thrift shops, buying a couple of very cheap items of clothing and fun/useful stuff.

Another stop not to be missed in Silver City is the Alotta Gelato Italian Ice Cream shop.

Mint/Banana - Oh Ya!
Silver City is a fun town, partially because it is a college town, with Western New Mexico University just up the hill from the historic downtown. I've found that college towns are usually pretty interesting. There's lots of culture, art and good food in college towns, typically.

The downside of college towns: there is usually a lot of riff-raff roaming about, but it wasn't too bad in SC.

I've tried to convince the Los Alamos city fathers that Los Alamos would make a great college town, but the leadership is pretty set on it's small town ways, such as everyone off the streets by 8.  (Los Alamos did just get a new cooperative beer brewing pub, so that is progress!)

Next post: Gila Hot Springs Ranch and Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument.

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