Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
by Jerrold VanNocker
In this last cave, the ruins of several structures are present. Besides the Kivas and corn crib, there is a structure that may have been a smoke house and there is a large stone next to the smoke house suspected of being the site of hide tanning.
An evaluation on the site has suggested no more then 10- 15 families could have lived in the 40 odd rooms that compose the dwellings.
Photo Right - Kiva at the Gila Cliff Dwellings
One of the Volunteer guides at the Gila Cliff Dwellings suggested there may have been more than 15 families composing the community. He speculated that the buildings within the caves were not "the" settlement, but the ceremonial center of the community. A few, prominent individuals of the community might have lived in the cliff dwellings but the majority of the group would have stayed in a village located close to the fields.
Photo Right - This structure may be a smoke house. the large flat rock at its base may have been a location for butchering or hide tanning.
We may never know the real purpose for the Cliff Dwellings but Allison and I both enjoyed the volunteer guides and the experience of walking through the ruins. It was now time for us to leave. We had the option of using the stairs or the ladder to make our exit from the cliff dwelling; we both opted for the ladder. As we proceed down the trail to return to our car I took one more glace behind us; this place still remains one of my special places in the world.
Slide Show below - Allison makes her way down the ladder to return to the trail.