Itasca State Park

We have  migrated to Bemidji, MN. Kinda a spur of the moment decision with the idea to escape the heat and keep retreating from Covid. Covid is making for an ever changing environment depending on where you are located. There are dine in restaurants open here that are abiding by the 6ft distancing and face masks. The employees of all the businesses I have been in are wearing face masks and so are something like 60% of the customers. The attitude toward face masks here is a marked improvement from Iowa. In Iowa there were folks who looked at face mask wearers like they were some form of alien enemy, here it just seems to be accepted. This is a fluid and rapidly changing situation across the country with Covid and it could be that the whole of public opinion is changing toward masks. I hope so and we shall see.

Itasca State Park is a nice place with Lake Itasca forming the tributary that is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It is really good to see Scout getting stronger every day and beginning to return to his old self. Scout and I took the first opportunity to wade into the river and it was deep enough for him to swim. He was so happy. At the headwaters he made lots of new friends in and out of the water. We waded up and down the river until he called it a day.

These are some images of the park and river. A big shout out to Peg for taking many of these images. AAANNND, Jeez I almost forgot!! Peg backed Gracie in and parked her in our campsite! An excellent job that I couldn’t have done better.



Itasca State Park and Mississippi Headwaters

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2020 Heber Overgaard Breakout

On the spur of the moment or in reality an attempt to escape the 110 degree heat, Peg and I decided to head north. In the day of Covid 19 it took several calls to find a campground accepting reservations; however, the good folks at Heber RV Resort had one spot left that was available until June 1. We snapped it up, got Gracie (the Winnebago View – yes we have named all our mobile vehicles, not sure why, kinda like naming your private parts I guess) out of storage, invited Payton on the spur of the moment and took off Thursday morning. We left 100 degree heat for the 80’s and it was well worth it.

Heber RV Resort is a nice place. It is well taken care of with outstanding bathrooms/showers, really good Wifi, big dog park and well manicured grounds. The location off 277 was perfect for exploring the area. We were 58 miles from Petrified Forest NP, 30 miles from the Mongollon Rim Road (NF300) and a couple of miles from Tall Pines county park.

Tall Pines is a nice park with pavilions, outhouses, picnic areas, trails and an outdoor racquetball court. Yes the graffiti covered walls are images from inside the outdoor court. Pretty obvious outdoor racquetball has seen better days. This is where Payton, Scout and I set out from on the “Meadow Trail” for a nice walkabout in the pine forest. It was determined that this trail would be good for biking and determined we would do so Saturday. Leaving the park, I decided to turn right onto the NF 50 and head into the forest.

This was the first real test of the Ranger (Lil Red). NF50 is a gravel, dirt road of unmaintained state. Ruts, holes, rocks and roots presented challenges and slow going. Lil Red preformed flawlessly in 4 wheel high. It was fun and we saw some of the otherwise hidden gems of the forest. We came upon a group of horsemen who had rounded up a herd of cattle at a water hole. There was a big ranch we drove by that had unbelievable water resources, big houses and barns with lots of animals. It was a good day.

Saturday morning Payton and I headed back to tall pines and hit the trail on our bikes. We did some 3 miles in the forest and another 3 miles on the Heber bike trail. It was a nice ride and a good work out at 6700 feet altitude. Afterwords, we rounded up Peg and Scout for a ride on the Mongollon Rim Road (NF300). The Mongollon Rim is the escarpment that crosses about 300 miles of northern Arizona boarder from New Mexico to Utah. It is named after the Mexican mayor from 1710 to 1730. The rim has cliffs as high as 1500 feet and is quite a site. The rim road is an interesting poorly maintained gravel road where there were thousands of people camping, hiking and site seeing last Saturday. The views were worth the trip.

Sunday was Petrified Forest National park day. The park was sparsely attended but at least had open bathrooms. We walked the main trail with Scout, which was the longest continuous walk since his surgery. He did well although when he found a bench he climbed right under it out of the sun. There were some scattered showers and clouds that seemed to me to reduce some of the color that I remembered from earlier visits.

Coming back today, we left temperatures in the 70’s driving down 6000 feet to find ourselves at 105. Ouch. Scouts freedom date is June 15 when the surgeon will release him, so we are not long now to be on the road. As we firm up our plans I will post our itinerary. The images linked are a compilation of images from last week. These images are of Queen Creek Canyon and Salt River Canyon off US 60, Tall Pines park in Heber, the Mongollon Rim Road, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert NP.



Heber Breakout

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Upgrades and What Not

Upgrading the winter campsite has been an ongoing event that began in October with all the major components in place in late May. The plan started out with a reasonably short list of things to do that make life more comfortable while in camp over the winter.

The first addition was the shed. Just about all the annual lease lots have a shed of one type or other for storage and hobby space. We chose a 10×10 wood shed with two windows and double doors which was delivered and assembled 11/26. The shed was bare bones and needed some dressing up to be functional for Peg and I. Through December I painted the floor, installed shelves, with Dee’s help installed a 30 amp breaker box with two circuits and plenty of outlets, built a workbench, installed a solar powered vent fan and had the Dish people mount a receiver antenna. The shed has turned out very nicely.

While waiting for the shed to arrive gave me time to order a Weber grill. Some assembly required. The new grill stays in place and the Q will return to the traveling role it has had all along. Of course the new grill could not sit on the desert gravel which lead to the big paver project.

The big paver project started out like all good diy projects. A simple 3×5 pad for the grill placed at the back end of the existing pad. This was the spot the Q was in so it was natural to locate the new grill there. Actually the existing pad is seven pavers wide. Immediately the work grew from 15 pavers to 21. You see where this is going, right?

The pad installation went pretty well, hard work with quite a few learning steps however the completed project looked good. The problem that occurred was the grill was really too big for this area and after some discussion it was decided it would be better placed at the back side of the Montana where the living room slide out ends. Of course, this spot needed pavers. And who wants to walk on desert gravel to get to the grill? Why not create a walkway that goes all the way to the end of the Montana then add the pad for the grill? Well the upshot is that more and more pavers were added until we had boxed in the shed spot and paved toward the street 4 feet. It did end up well. The grill is good and after the shed was built I installed led lights on the shed to brighten the area. All the pavers in front of the shed made a good spot for the patio table and chairs. So the great paver project came to a hard won conclusion.

Then came Scout’s knee injury and subsequent surgery. As a bonus, Covid-19 blossomed up. All this caused our travel plans to change. Stay at home time led to creative thinking and as Scout was recovering there was time to work on doing next season’s project. Peg and I had kicked around putting up a gazebo. As luck would have it, Costco put them on sale a few weeks ago and it seemed time to go ahead.

Naturally, the Gazebo had to be well anchored to the ground due to the winds we get here. There was just enough room for a 10×10 gazebo in front of the shed. We framed the perimeter with 4×4 pressure treated lumber level with the existing pad filling the interior with pavers which looks really good. The gazebo arrived Wednesday and Thursday was assembly day. I was very fortunate to have the help of Jeff from across the street, Dee, Payton and Peg in erecting the gazebo. Jeff, Dee and Payton did incredible work and I am forever in their debt. Thanks.

While there are still some little things to do we are done for this extended season. Scout gets his release from the surgeon and we will heading out of the heat quickly thereafter. The images attached show an empty lot similar to where we started from in October then a few images of the winter camp as it is today.


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The Hundreds

Hey, look. It’s sunny and 100 in the desert. The air conditioner kicked on at 8am sharp and will run until 10 pm tonight for sure. These temps are a bit excessive for this time of year and Sunday we are under an excessive heat warning with temps pushing 110. It looks like it will cool down a little next week before the 100’s become the norm for the next 4 months. Being the desert, it is a dry heat (LOL) so just getting is some shade makes the temps bearable. Since we will be here or in the vicinity for the next 7 weeks, I am starting to look at adding some shade to the campsite, maybe a sail type.

Weaver’s Needle continues on with the facilities closed or on altered hours. While inconvenient, it is surely helping keep us safe. Peg and I have a neighbor who did a good job cutting our hair. Making our patio a barber shop with face masks, social distancing and all was a new thing that went well. Evening cards are the normal; however, the poker guys will be done by the end of the week as most are leaving before the 1st of May. It is of note that on my weekly trip to the True Value Hardware (where they really miss Scout) most of the employees and customers were wearing face masks. Businesses that can, are now adapting to the Covid-19 restrictions with shields and protective gear. Drive up, drive thru and delivery seem to be keeping a lot of places going. It is hard to gauge how severe the economic impact in Apache Junction is as the season really ends in April any way. A large number of small shops here needed to make enough money by the end of March to get them through to November or they were in trouble, regardless. Although, there are places closed now that most likely will never reopen.

It looks like the “stay at home” efforts in Arizona have helped to mitigate the spread of the virus. Case rates here are running at the 5 to 7% per day increase which is on the low side compared to the country as a whole. The notable exception is the Indian reservations in the northeast and east of the state where the impact is quite severe. It is unclear to me the impact Covid-19 will have on our travel plans. When Scout gets to week 3 we may look at taking some short trips to get out of the heat. Although, one thing that is certain is that all roads out of here travel through hot spots right now so I am not sure where we would go. We will see what it looks like week to week. Of more interest to most of you is our little fur baby, Scout.

This is his sad look from his spot in the shed. Despite his look, Scout is doing well. He would much rather be in his spot under the Montana where he has all the rocks and dirt arranged to his liking, but the desert can’t get into his wound. The bruising and swelling on his leg is gone. He is eating well again and the potty routine is stabilizing. Pain meds and sedatives are only as needed and we are about complete with the antibiotics. The cone of shame is still a regular part of life; however, his urge to lick his wound is winding down.

He has grown to really like having me lift up his back half with his sling. Scout will patiently wait by the door for me to get the sling under him. He will stop half way down the stairs just to be sure his butt is up in the air, if it is not to his liking I get that look. A doggy ramp will be here today or Monday which will make the stairs much easier for him. We are working hard to make sure his recovery continues on track. He so wants to play and say hi to all his people friends. This week is still confined to 5 minute walks and limited movement.

Peg and I wish good health to all our friends who have gone home to Covid-19 hot spots in states like Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota. Stay safe we want to see you in the fall.


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What it’s Monday?

Scout’s surgery went well and he is on the long road to recovery. Peg and I picked him up at 10 am Saturday. Honestly, we have spent the weekend getting used to the new routine of medication, cold packs and occasional short walks with Scout to pee. Scout’s recovery time is 8 weeks or until the week of June 15th. Just another layer to the new reality.

This season we have set up our Weaver’s Needle lot as a winter retreat with parking the Montana on jacks for stability, installing a new shed, a ton (or two, whew!) of concrete pavers, weber grill, patio table and a cactus river garden. Recently added Wyze cameras for security and now that we will be here for a while other projects are being formulated. Below are some images of the homestead.

This week will see the leaving of most of our close winter neighbors for their summer phomes. Pia Valar left for Wyoming this morning with others following later this week. We wish them all safe and healthy travels with the hope that none of them are going back to Covid-19 outbreaks in their communities. With oil prices going negaive this morning, gas and diesel should be cheap. By the way how does that work? You fill up at Pilot and they add cash to your credit card? Something to think about. Big oil paying us to take their oil…lol.

Peg and I are observing social distancing and using face masks out in public places. Of course, this is Arizona. At the local Fry’s Saturday evening, I was surprised to see most of the shoppers and employees without face masks and definitely not practicing social distancing. Outside on the front walk the overnight crowd of homeless people were claiming their spots and not observing any of the rules. I think it says something about us all that Fry’s has an armed uniformed police officer patroling the paper aisle while at the same time letting the homeless crowd onto the pavement by the entrances with their employees taking smoke breaks close by. I think shopping on line and having home delivery is the way to go. Definetly.

Life here, in the Weaver’s Needle bubble as I call it, continues at a slow and relaxed pace. Peg attends women’s morning coffee at one neighbor or the others place and we both play cards. For me it is poker a couple of nights a week although as soon as we have a departure or two that will be done until November. I see a handful of people out and about walking or bicycling the streets. The Weaver’s Needle Bubble term I use is not derogitory or demeaning in any way. Quite the opposite as the park allows us to practice social distancing and control of the folks who enter and the interactions we have. There have been no confirmed Covid-19 cases in the park, as far as I know.

Peg and I have no planned breakouts as of now. I think that a family bike trip is in the works; however, everything is flexible. With mother nature turning up the temps later on this week, the north looks inviting. I suppose a lot depends on the State and National parks figuring out how to open. It is reported that Texas is opening their State Parks soon and I would imagine Arizona will follow suit. We will leave the heat as soon as we can.

In the meantime, Scout is relaxing at my feet, Peg is inside in the air conditioning (even though the high today is only in the mid-80’s, the inside of the Montana is like a pizza oven with out the a/c) and I am ready to start transfering more of the old negatives to digital images. Started with 28 rolls and now am down to 15, a nice slow pace for sure. After that I will take a look at the three large containers of actual pictures to see what the plan will be. With Ann’s 900 or so I set up the camera and took images, but it looks like there are thousands that Peg and I have . Yikes!! Anyone who is interested can look at my images on Flicr. I make just about everything public, please like any that you find particularly good. There are 33000 images here

Below are links to desert/cactus flowers, a cute bee if you can find it and other stuff for your entertainment.



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April 15, 2020

Today, besides being the original income tax filing day, was the day our Alaska trip was to have started. Like so many Americans all our plans have been changed by Covid-19. As noted earlier, reservations were cancelled in late March when it became apparent that travel in Canada was already looking impossible and the US was becoming problematic. As it happened, we would have been stopped from traveling anyway by Scout’s injury and impending surgery. As the virus situation has unfolded, staying here at Weaver’s Needle looks like the thing to do anyway. Instead of pictures of northern Arizona, southern Utah and so forth, I am forced to create a different blog this season that is flexible, respectful of physical distancing and peppered with face masks.

Weaver’s Needle is a great over winter RV park located in eastern Apache Junction close to the Superstition Mountains. Peg and I have been coming here for 5 years now and find this place to be a comfortable winter home. The campground has very good facilities with solid management and great location. The park begins to fill up in November reaching a peak population in January and February. The folks here are from Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Canada and a smattering of other states. The park housing consists of a large contingent of park models followed by fifth wheels and trailers. This is a 55+ park and I estimate the average age is in the 70’s. During the season there are multiple activities organized by the park along with many informal activities such as hiking, bike trips, off road adventures, horse back riding, etc.

In a normal season, folks begin to filter out in March and by the end of April the park is close to its permanent resident level of 20 or 30 folks. This year Covid-19 first drove the Canadians home in Mid-March. They were followed by most of the people who are still actively engaged in farming and needed to be home for spring planting and couldn’t find themselves quarantined here. Frankly, there were plenty who left early out of fear and uncertainty. A natural understandable reaction to the near panic that was seen around things like toilet paper. Now there are people still in residence here by choice who have delayed traveling for a variety of reasons including the impacts of Covid-19.

Arizona is under restrictions imposed by the Governor similar to most states with a more relaxed attitude to outdoor activities as long as they are less than 10 people and social distancing is observed. Weaver’s Needle has responded to this by taking appropriate actions that include closing the halls, pool, and community areas. We have sort of socially isolated as a community, small gatherings inside the park and limiting activities outside the park. To my knowledge no one in the park has had Covid-19.

Given these conditions, Peg and I have had three break out day trips, a handful of us have taken bike trips and we continue to play cards a few nights a week. Easter Sunday was a family affair at Jen and Dee’s new house (less than 10 people). We had several containers of stuff that Jen had stored for us and with her move they were placed in our new shed. Some of these containers have a lot of pictures in them, including 58 24mm APS negative rolls. I mention this as these are being transferred to digital. Sort of a new hobby. As I get them done and grouped I may post some of them.

This is life right now. Friday Scout goes to the surgeon in Gilbert. The expectation is that surgery will be performed on his right hind knee; however, that is entirely dependent on circumstances Friday morning. I will post an update over the week end. In the meantime, links to some of the break outs, bike rides and general desert images follow.




Sedona breakout

Tortilla Flats Breakout

Queen Creek Wash Trail

Indian Head Trail

Desert Flowers

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Alaska 2020 Coronavirus and Scout

Life is constant change. We all know this in our heart even though sometimes we cling to the past or refuse to accept what is placed squarely in our view. The last year has been filled with life’s changes for me. At the age of 71 coping with life changes is not easy. However by the start of 2020 it looked like there were more positive changes ahead than negative. Then came Covid-19.

By the end of January the Alaska 2020 trip in our new Winnebago View looked to be a go and I started making reservations along our planned route. Actually most of the trip was booked from April 15 through October 1. Our new Ranger arrived in late February just as Covid-19 was coming to the forefront. In fact we drove it down to Tucson for a week at Lazy Daze as we took in a softball tournament with the Wiegands and their family watching Ally pitch for Illinois Weslyan University. The virus was a topic of discussion  but we pushed ahead with having the Ranger all set up as a towed vehicle and attached to the Winnebago. Yes sir all ready to go.1710F44E-F015-42FB-AE45-66322DD0E47D_1_105_cAs the Covid-19 crises became more urgent it was apparent that traveling in Canada this Spring was going to be problematic. In fact, British Columbia emailed me confirming the closing of the Provincial Parks through to 1 May and beyond. While assessing all this Scout ruptured a tendon on his left hind leg that will require mid-April surgery with recovery time. I caved facing this tsunami of challenges and cancelled all of Alaska 2020 except for the September Washington State portions. Thinking that travel may be easier then.

I think that most of us are still absorbing the impact of the pandemic. Life has changed. Last year the changes in my life (the death of my sister Ann) were very personal causing much grief and pain. This year the changes in life impact us all, making them easier to share and hopefully more understandable as time passes. These are very difficult times for many people and there are many dark clouds on the horizon for the rest of us. Being full time RV folks Peg and I have grown to be pretty flexible folks and roll with the punches in a timely fashion. We do not know what is going to happen; however, we do know what our status is at the moment and we are ok.

We are staying in Apache Junction through to at least May 1 so that Scout can have surgery and recovery time. Once he is released we will assess our travel plans. It would be difficult to stay here through the Summer in our Montana, it just does not do well in 115 degree heat. If we have to we will make that option work. Hopefully, we will be able to travel north in May or June, perhaps being able to use those Washington reservations. It will be what it is.

On a different note. We have been social distancing and using wipes, etc. Trying to do our part. We have have broken out a couple of times. Last weekend we took a trip up to Fish Creek Vista passing through Tortilla Flats. There were still a lot of people out and social distancing was not really in practice. Some of the pictures from that trip are surrealistic compared to how people are acting today.

This Saturday we traveled up to Roosevelt Lake. The traffic was light for a beautiful Saturday. All the parks were closed, most of the restaurants were closed; however, there were boats out on the lake and the parking lots at Walmart and Fry’s were busy. No pictures were taken on this trip. It is notable that life goes on, it is simply different now.

I wish good health to all.



Tortilla Flats and Fish Creek Vista





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Day in Springfield with Lincoln

Our day began with the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum complex in downtown Springfield, traversing New Salem State Park and ending at the Lincoln Tomb. August 22 was a very pleasant day with sunny skies and cooler temperatures making for a very nice walk through Lincoln’s history.

The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are worth the visit. Situated in downtown Springfield with plenty of parking and a lot of stores, bars and restaurants in the area as well as the old State Capitol building. The museum is wonderfully done with beautiful exhibits and films. It was interesting to see how at lot of the language used in today’s speech is like the language used then to defend slavery and how outrageous the printed political ads were. All things Lincoln were for sale in the very large and nicely presented souvenir shop.

After having artfully maneuvered our way through the gift shop without buying anything, we made our way out to New Salem. The museum is nice and shows how life was in 1820’s Illinois. Lincoln’s time here is very interesting and of great importance in his life. This is where he learned law and became involved in local politics. The structures are replicas of the orginals built in the 1930’s with the exception of one home that is original to the site. The layout gives a good picture of how it must have been to live there. Although, it is hard to imagine what it must have been like to survive an Illinois winter in those log homes! Peg and I spent a good part of the afternoon enjoying the park then back to Springfield to visit the tomb.

Lincoln’s Tomb is a very impressive structure and well done. Walking through the interior to the vault draws respect and somber feelings. It is easy to forget amid the majesty of the monument now run by the Department of the Interior that it was private citizens who thought to remember and honor Lincoln by spending their funds, time and energy to create this site.

It was a good day well spent. Being downtown around the Old Capitol brought back fond memories of 11 years ago almost to the day that I stood there watching Barack Obama introduce Joe Biden as his VP. A very memorable day of a much better time in America. Its been awhile since I last posted and I hope to be posting more regularly in the future including catching up with some of our trip this Spring. Also, stay tuned for upcoming changes!! Yes Peg and I are evolving after 5 years of full-time RV’ing we are planning new things! Watch for the evolution.

Enjoy the pictures.


Springfield and Lincoln

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Tour of Gila Bike Race Silver City NM

Silver City has been hosting the Tour of Gila since 1989. The 2019 race consists of 5 stages with stage 5 taken place on May 5. The stage 5 route took the racers past the KOA entrance off US 180 early this morning and Peg, Scout and I were there waiting for them. The first groups through were the amateurs.

These men and women are truly dedicated to the sport. These groups are lead by a single car with flashing lights and maybe a couple of chase cars. Mind you that the Men’s Cat 1,2 and UCI Men are racing about 100 miles across large rolling hills, then two Cat 2 climbs and a Cat 1. Peg and I drove the portion of the climbs and it was real work just driving the F350 up and down. It does give some perspective on the difficulty you see on TV when watching races such as the Tour De France where the racers will do a couple Cat 1’s and a Beyond Cat climb. These are really steep grades. Of course, big climbs lead to big downhill racing at speeds up to 60 mph. We were behind a racer training on the downhill section Thursday and she was flying along right up to the Cattle Guard. Full brakes on and creep over very slowly. I do not know how the men will deal with them.

It was impressive to see the UCI Men and Women who have the full support of the Tour. They get police motorcycle and car support and vans, trucks, and cars of all sorts following them. A lot of these racers will be going on the Amgen Tour of California which starts May 12. It was a great morning.

The pictures in the link below start with the first groups and end with the UCI participants.


Tour of Gila 2019

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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Second side trip of the 2019 season. Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument via New Mexico 15. This is a pretty drive of about 44 miles one way up and over the Continental Divide at 7080 feet then back down to 5800 or so at the Monument. We were greeted by Park Service personnel who collected the fee and gave very good advice on walking the trail and information on what to see. The trail is a 1.1 mile loop that ascends approximately 300 feet. On the other side of the Gila River is the beginning and end of the trail, you can go either direction. The trail left is the “steep climb” through the narrow valley with a stream and lots of shade. The trail to the right is a switchback. low stairway climb in the sun. Peg and I chose to take the steep climb due to the shade. Note that dogs and chewing gum are not allowed across the Gila River, so Scout sat in the truck. The park does have kennels available; however, I chose the truck for Scout. Nice breeze blowing plenty of water and he is very comfortable in his truck.

This is a very nice moderate walk with bridges back and forth across the creek with plenty of places to sit. You can see the dwellings way up on the cliff and where the trail turns to climb the rock there is a nice view point. This is where Peg wisely turned back. From there, it is pretty much 18 stories up of rough rock stairs that take you to the caves. This is not for the faint of heart. In point of fact if you are not in at least average shape then either way up to the caves is a bit much.

The cave dwellings are interesting and just looking around at the lay of the land, available water and other resources it is to see why people chose this site. I left the dwellings via the wooden ladder, which creaked and groaned to the point that I was expecting to be a pile of human waste at the bottom of the cliff! However, I successfully transited the ladder. Following the “easy path” down began with some difficult stone steps with no hand holds or railings, difficult travel. Once past this stretch the trail was a moderate decline via switch backs through the forest fire area with wonderful views of the Gila River.

Gila Cliff dwellings is a nice place and we had a good time. When in the Silver City area, i recommend visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings. However, the traveler needs to be aware that NM 15 is a difficult mountain traverse that climbs up and down close to 2000 feet over the 44 miles of road. There is an 18 mile stretch of narrow road with full 180 degree switch backs with blind curves and few guard rails. This road provides an absolutely stunning view of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

A link to pictures of the trail is below. Enjoy.


Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

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