Gila National Forest, New Mexico: 4/2 – 4/4/19

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.

6DACE7C1-BE50-4F17-970E-8E323C897499We 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.



B882E481-44B7-442D-863D-D04CDD33BA0FThere 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?

D8053A47-BCB6-485B-8E6D-0198B78978EEI 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.

671165F4-2039-4262-AE66-7D28628F169BWe continued on to see just how far the path would take us.

5AE2F650-BFE9-496F-82FD-CC1FC1AA92EEWe 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.

02043EB8-8705-434E-8CEA-3C90E107F32EBelow is a photo of the lake from State Road 35.

8A7C74CA-6D3E-4EA6-9E4B-43CCCAB32411We continued on for about an hour to Gila Cliff Dwellings.

BFC8F8ED-3FBF-4C62-853A-79C48BDC8AB9In 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.


84708F9C-4777-41D8-9364-0FFC20EC92A7The 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.


31A8BF39-09FA-4532-9D54-B50D1113EC2FWe 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.

86380192-358A-4CC4-8F3C-7B12DFC10B93I 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.

3E965D34-EC8C-4C6F-B8E0-447E37313C69We 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.




DF6CAA33-AC08-466C-BEFF-393D3B52D6A2On the way back down, there was evidence of a fire-burned hillside regenerating grasses, flowers and shrubs.

38ABCAC7-A714-4C5A-BB24-DA5AD85AB1F4This 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.

C1CCEDBE-B68E-4383-BC65-53F2C2339BE1It 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!



E9D0DFF8-20CF-4D15-9C2B-447B23721189When 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.

E9FB3439-7D5A-4C24-AD5D-9C55207A1F5CWe enjoyed the center pool with our new friends, who took a picture of us together.

6DE88BDA-DFFA-415A-BE89-7D16AEEC4418Across from the pools is the Gila River.  That water was extremely cold.

9631AA96-7BB6-4F1E-9025-1D13A018804AHere are the girls, Rhonda (left) and Berta (right).

973137A6-FE8C-42E8-AA1A-C048883BEF00They 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.

E4C5D317-2381-43F6-9908-D6D285F16077As 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!

2E524FB9-69DC-48DB-BC4B-19A8F84B6BEFThe 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.”

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