Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument vs. Carlsbad Caverns National Park: What You Should Know

Are you ready for an action-packed adventure in the great outdoors? Lace-up your hiking boots and head to southern New Mexico for the ultimate vacation when you visit one of our historic national parks. Whether you’re exploring high above the ground or going down under for a cavern-sized undertaking, you are sure to experience the Land of Enchantment like never before. We have everything you need to know about the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument vs. Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Learn more about New Mexico and the Gila National Forest when you access your exclusive Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch Itinerary! We have everything you need to know about horseback riding, the rich history of the area, and ranch life in New Mexico!

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Everything You Need to Know About Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument vs. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

There are several differences and things to consider when making your travel plans to one of New Mexico’s national parks. First, how much time do you have for your adventure? The two parks are just about six hours from one another. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is three hours north via NM-15 of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and six hours west of Carlsbad Caverns. Second, are you interested in learning more about our Indigenous past or exploring our otherworldly landscapes? Read on to discover how to choose between two of our favorite parks in southern New Mexico, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument vs. Carlsbad Caverns National Park!

  • Gila Cliff DwellingsGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

    • About the Dwellings

The Gila Cliff Dwellings were constructed around 1280 by the migrating people of the Mogollon Culture. Occupied for only about 20 years, the dwellings, built into the cliff-side caves of what is now the Gila National Forest, offer a glimpse into what life was like so many centuries ago. The dwellings feature ancient pieces of pottery, wooden beams supporting the structures, and homes complete with kitchens and bedrooms. 

The dwellings are located in the Gila National Forest, forty-four miles north of Silver City. The Monument spreads across 533 acres encompassing the full region where the Mogollon people would have cultivated food, worked, and resided. Take your time exploring as this is one of the last remaining parks that allow visitors to explore the caves and dwellings of past Indigenous cultures. 


    • Things to Do

A guided tour is the best way to learn more about the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Mogollon culture who lived there. However, there is so much more to see and do at the Monument than just a tour. Unleash your wild side as you wander into nature’s untouched beauty. 

Enjoy a day of bird watching or wildlife viewing. Visit at night and sit underneath the vast New Mexico skyline, gazing up at the gleaming stars. Explore the miles of hiking trails, visit the nearby Jordan Hot Springs and take a dip in its warm, mineral-packed waters. For an adventure filled with both history and the great outdoors, the Gila Cliff Dwellings will not disappoint.

  • carlsbad caverns national parkCarlsbad Caverns National Park

    • About the Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is comprised of 119 caves uniquely formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone several million years ago. The main chamber is nearly 4,000-feet long and 255-feet tall at its highest point, making it the largest cave in North America. The area is said to have once been a coastline for an inland sea, and you’re able to see the ancient sea ledges when standing above ground. Carlsbad Caverns is one of New Mexico’s most popular parks and is sure to leave you in awe.

    • Things to Do

Deemed “the Grand Canyon with a roof over it,” Carlsbad Caverns is a place you truly have to see to believe. Explore the caves with a knowledgeable ranger or enjoy a jaw-dropping self-guided tour of your own. And don’t forget to venture above ground to witness flora and fauna of the nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

Book Your Stay at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

cabins Geronimo Trail Guest RanchRegardless of which stunning National Park you’re visiting in southern New Mexico, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is the best place to rest your boots before or after your explorations! Our all-inclusive ranch is located just under 350 miles from Carlsbad Caverns and about 197 miles from the Gila Cliff Dwellings. We offer private cabins in the heart of Gila National Forest paired with unlimited horseback riding and delicious ranch-style dining

Discover New Mexico’s rich Native American history from the people who know it best— ranch owners and your wranglers, Seth and Meris. Listen to the ancient stories and find artifacts of your own when you explore the best of the Gila National Forest. (Just remember to leave them as you found them so everyone can enjoy them!) We look forward to welcoming you to Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch!