On April 2, we left Aguirre Spring Campground and headed west on 70 to 10W to 180W to 61N to 35N to Gila National Forest. It was amazing to see the desert view suddenly change to tall evergreen trees.
We found Upper End Campground by Lake Roberts and set up camp. There were six sites available and only two were taken – one by the cranky Camp Host and the other by a trailer that left for good the following morning. It was plenty shaded and a short walk to the lake.
There was a trail leading out of the campground and out to the lake. Apparently, it contains Trophy Bass. Not sure what that is.
I think that Scott wished he had a fishing pole?
I was happy just hanging out on the dock. We keep saying that we are going to get ourselves some water toys, i.e. a kayak and a standup paddle board. It was a wee bit chilly today to swim, but it would have been nice to hang out on the water.
We continued on to see just how far the path would take us.
We saw one man fishing alone across the lake. Other than that, we didn’t see any other people. It was quite peaceful and we enjoyed the solitude. We eventually turned around and Scott put up the hammock so that we could bask in the warmth of the sun.
On the way out the next morning, we stopped to take a look at Lake Roberts from a different vantage point. On the map below, you can see where the Uper End Campground is located relative to Lake Roberts.
Below is a photo of the lake from State Road 35.
We continued on for about an hour to Gila Cliff Dwellings.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt established Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument as the only place in the National Park Service that interprets and preserves part of the Mogollon Culture history. The Mogollon people called this place their home over 700 years ago. They were able to survive for a time because they had access to water from the Gila River. It was so totally cool roaming thru the remains. Let me take you on our tour. First, we crossed over the Gila River on a bridge that was built for the purpose of tourism.
The one-mile trail is unpaved, steep in some places, and uneven. We were walking in the footsteps of the Mogollon people who called this place home. There was another couple ahead of us, so we took each other’s picture with the cave opening in the background. We will soon be walking into those dark cave openings.
We had to climb up a ladder to enter the cavern. Archaeologists think that occupants may have climbed a ladder up onto the wooden balcony to enter the door.
I took a picture of Scott standing just at the top of these stairs. It wasn’t as dark inside as it appears in this photo.
We walked around and peered over walls to peek into the many separate rooms. It is believed that the smaller rooms were for storage, the large, open space was likely an enclosed living space, and the fire pit represents a cooking area.
On the way back down, there was evidence of a fire-burned hillside regenerating grasses, flowers and shrubs.
This was my favorite National Monuments that we have visited so far. I was amazed at how cool it was inside the cave to protect you from the sun’s heat. In the cold, wintery months, it provided a warm shelter.
Not far from the monument, we found Gila Hot Springs.
It is a family-run goat farm with three separate hot springs to bask in. We were not able to drive to the hot springs pools as the road was blocked by a work truck. So, we parked the truck, grabbed our bags, and headed down the dirt road. We passed a small corral of horses and hundreds of goats!
When we got to the pools, one was closed off, the second was occupied by four adults, and the third pool had one woman who seemed to be meditating. We changed into our bathing suits in the makeshift bathroom/changing room and joined the two couples who were regulars at this spa. Berta and Mick have been living in New Mexico for 30+ years and their dear friends, Rhonda and Rick, were visiting with the intent of moving there. They were all super friendly, and we enjoyed hanging out and relaxing. Here is the pool that was initially closed. It is furnished with overhead sun protection.
We enjoyed the center pool with our new friends, who took a picture of us together.
Across from the pools is the Gila River. That water was extremely cold.
Here are the girls, Rhonda (left) and Berta (right).
They left just before us, and we are hopeful that our paths will cross again. They offered us a ride back to our truck, but we actually enjoyed the walk. Upon leaving the spa area, we noticed the following sign.
As we passed the goats, a momma and her hungry kid stopped close to the road. I just had to record what we saw. So special!
Just before we arrived back at our campsite, we decided to stop at the Lake Roberts General Store. We parked the truck and walked up to the front porch. It was only then that we realized that it was closed for the season. We are not sure if it is closed for good or just closed for the season. They need to take down those beer signs!
The next morning we awoke to a morning temperature outside of 23 degrees and 41 degrees in the trailer. COLD!!!!! I never expected the weather in New Mexico to be this chilly. We left our Lake Roberts Campsite and headed to a KOA in Holbrook. Our next stop is Arizona. Goodbye for now to the “Land of Enchantment.”