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Road Trip: New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness and Historic Silver City

New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness and Historic Silver City Are Calling

Photos and text courtesy of the Town of Silver City

The hidden gem of the southwest, Silver City, New Mexico, is the ideal location for an affordable, relaxing and inspiring getaway. Located near the 3.3-million acre Gila Wilderness and surrounded by vast wide-open spaces, Silver City is a destination chosen time and again by outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts. Additionally, with a rich history dating back to the late 1200s, a past as a mining town, and ties to Billy the Kid, the area is culturally diverse and full of fascinating historical stops. For art lovers—a myriad of art galleries showcasing all mediums, as well as studios and art tours—a visit to Silver City is sure to invigorate the soul and spark creativity. Small-town charm and beautiful landscapes make this a vacation spot to remember. 

Whatever your interests, you’ll find a variety of fun activities in Silver City, a day’s drive west of Amarillo.

FOR OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Offering a glimpse of the lives of the Mogollon people who lived there from the late 1200s into the 1300s, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and provides a rare opportunity to walk through history. 

Catwalk Recreation Area

Explore a passage to hidden places in nature along the incredible cliff walls supported by steel beams, as you wind through the canyon of the Catwalk Recreation Area. Stunning rock formations and beautiful sights make this hike an inspiring and memorable journey. 

City of Rocks State Park

One of only six areas in the world with this type of rock formation—created by volcanic ash and sculpted by weather—City of Rocks State Park is a must-see destination, providing hours of hiking or biking fun, as well as camping, bird watching, picnicking and of course, taking great photos. 

Continental Divide Trail

A national scenic trail, the Continental Divide Trail offers hiking and biking opportunities, as well as options for spotting local wildlife. 

Gila Wilderness

Arguably one of the area’s biggest draws, the Gila Wilderness—the first set aside by Congress—boasts a range of native plants and wildlife. Perfect for birding, wildlife sightings, photography, hiking and biking, the Gila Wilderness is home to many species, including elk, deer, mountain lions, black bears, wild turkey, and more. 

For Art Lovers

An art lover’s dream, Silver City is known for its eclectic charm and its thriving art community. The town is home to artisans, painters, potters, printmakers, weavers, glassblowers, and jewelry makers, among others, and is a frequent destination for those looking to browse, buy or find inspiration from art. With more than 20 galleries in the historic downtown, more than 50 vibrant murals, numerous art studios, art walks and tours, opportunities to meet local artists, and musical and theater performances, the art scene is unmatched. 

For History Buffs

With ties to the Wild West and as the home to the third-largest open pit copper mine in the world, Silver City is also known for its Old West Heritage and Southwest culture. 

Silver City Museum

The Silver City History Museum is nationally recognized through its accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums and brings to life the cultural heritage of the area’s past. Explore collections, rotating exhibits, and programs and events. 

Fort Bayard

Tour historic buildings, monuments and the fort that once served as a point of protection during battles with Geronimo and other Apache leaders, as well as the place that served as home to hundreds of Buffalo Soldiers during the Civil War and Apache Wars. 

Mining District

Dive into the mining past of the region in nearby Santa Clara, Bayard and Hurley. 

Trail of the Mountain Spirits

A journey into history and an enchanting outdoor activity, the Trail of the Mountain Spirits takes adventurers through the places where some of the most notable miners, settlers, explorers, Native Americans, and homesteaders lived, worked and made their mark. 

Join the Excitement of Special Events

There’s always something special happening in Silver City, with iconic events occurring throughout the year. Plan your trip around one of the exciting annual events, spanning arts and cultural gatherings like CLAY Festival, Silver City Blues Festival, Fiesta Latina, and Southwest Print Fiesta, and outdoor celebrations like the Gila River Festival. 

Where to Stay, Eat and Drink

Your stay in Silver City can be as unique as you are. With everything from historic hotels like the Murray Hotel (which offers nighttime tours to explore the hotel’s lively past), to local and chain motels, bed and breakfasts, cabins and cottages, RV parks and campgrounds, your stay will be anything but ordinary. 

Complete the experience by dining and drinking at a variety of local eateries, breweries and bars. 

For more information or to plan your stay, go to VisitSilverCity.org.