Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57013

On my recent photo trip to the Southwest I made a point of including, among my subjects, sites of Ancestral Puebloans. Several years ago I began visiting and photographing ruins, pictographs, and petroglyphs in the Cedar Mesa region of southern Utah. Finding these sites to be very intriguing and educational I wanted to explore more of them on future trips. On this latest excursion, my first stop was Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in western New Mexico.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57023

Gila Cliff Dwellings, situated in a valley close to the Gila River, was home to the Mogollon people around 1200 AD and was thought to be inhabited until the early 1300’s. Like most of the ancestral ruins on and near the Colorado Plateau, the inhabitants mysteriously decided to abandon their homes and villages near the end of the thirteenth century. Within the boundary of the monument there are many preserved sites, but the main dwellings, which can be visited on a short hike, consisted of around 46 rooms situated among 5 cliff caves. The site can be visited in around an hour but it would be a shame to drive this far without making it a leisurely visit. At the main cliff caves a very knowledgeable ranger is stationed to answer all your questions and explain in detail the history of the Mogollon people.

If you decide to visit the monument be aware that it is a long drive from Siver City New Mexico, the nearest town. The distance is only 44 miles but the road follows a winding up and down route through the mountains, making the time traveled from Silver City around two hours. The monument has some primitive camping available, and there are also a few national forest sites nearby, along with some natural hot springs.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57009

Gila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument #57008

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New Southwest Images

New Southwest Images

White Sands National Monument New Mexico New Southwest ImagesWhite Sands National Monument New Mexico #57137b

All of the new images from my recent Southwest trip are now online and ready for viewing and downloading. A selection of 100 images from a total of over 1000 have been added to my New Images Portfolio. To view even more  from any of the locations listed below you can use our Search feature or contact us for a custom portfolio.

  • States:  California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah
  • National Parks and Monuments: Carrizo Plains National Monument CA, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument NM, White Sands National Monument NM, Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM, Guadalupe National Park TX, Chaco Culture National Historical Park NM, Aztec Ruins National Monument NM, Canyon de Chelly National Monument AZ, Hovenweep National Monument UT, Mesa Verde National Park CO, Canyonlands National Park UT, Arches National Park UT
  • State Parks, Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park CA, Kofa Mountains Wildlife Refuge AZ, Lost Dutchman State Park/Superstition Mountains AZ, Angel Peak Scenic Area NM, Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness NM, Valley Of The Gods Utah

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wildflowers New Southwest ImagesWildflowers, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California #56856

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Southwest Photography Trip

Southwest Photography Trip

Fonts Point Borrego BadlandsBorrego Badlands from Fonts Point

Well, I’m finally back home and catching up on business after six long weeks on the road, photographing throughout the Southwest. It’s good to be back home, but the mountain of work facing me won’t give me any rest for quite some time. Not to mention the fact that being a photographer I’m also faced with the fact that now that we’re well into Spring I need to somehow get back out on the road and trails ASAP!

This trip started out with a goal to photograph spring desert wildflowers but gradually turned into an epic adventure to visit and photograph as many SW locations as I could fit in. In the end, I visited lots of new locations, adding three new states to my photo library, New Mexico Colorado and Texas, and greatly expanded my coverage of Ancient American ruins and culture. I also added depth to my coverage of some classic Southwest National Parks, Canyonlands, and Arches in particular.

Accompanying this post are two new photos from the trip, one from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California and the other from Kofa Mountains Arizona. That’s about all I can find time to add right now. Below are some of the totals from this trip. If you are interested in seeing a selection of images from any of the listed locations let me know and I’ll do my best to edit and process some for you.

  • Days out: 38
  • Miles traveled: 6402
  • Total photos: (before editing) 4200
  • States where I photographed:  California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah
  • National Parks and Monuments: Carrizo Plains National Monument CA, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument NM, White Sands National Monument NM, Carlsbad Caverns National Park NM, Guadalupe National Park TX, Chaco Culture National Historical Park NM, Aztec Ruins National Monument NM, Canyon de Chelly National Monument AZ, Hovenweep National Monument UT, Mesa Verde National Park CO, Canyonlands National Park UT, Arches National Park UT
  • State Parks, Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park CA, Kofa Mountains Wildlife Refuge AZ, Lost Dutchman State Park/Superstition Mountains AZ, Angel Peak Scenic Area NM, Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness NM, Valley Of The Gods Utah

Stay tuned as I will be posting images and more info on this trip as soon as I can!

Kofa Mountains SunsetKofa Mountains Sunset, AZ

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SW Montana Historic Ghost Towns Battlefields

SW Montana Historic Ghost Towns BattlefieldsBig Hole National Battlefield Montana #51788 SW Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Bighole National Battlefield Montana #51788

If you’re like me and enjoy history and learning about the events that shaped our country, a visit to SW Montana will reward you with some wonderful experiences. Our culture is filled with books and movies depicting the Old West and sometimes it’s easy to forget that in a short drive you can see history come to life and learn firsthand what it was really like back in the 1800’s.

On my recent trip I made a point of touring through this section of Montana and visit a few of its historic highlights. My first stop was Bighole National Battlefield near Wisdom Montana. Here one can learn about the tragic flight for freedom of the Nez Percé, one of the saddest chapters in the history of the American West. Along the short trails in the park you can walk through the site where the Nez Percé were camped and attacked by the Army of Colonel John Gibbon. Sitting here amongst the bare tepee frames in the still of the early morning is a very emotional experience that can never be felt reading a book or watching a movie. Across the river you can view the site from the perspective of the Gibbon’s soldiers. The shallow holes the soldiers desperately dug to avoid the fire from the Nez Percé snipers can still be seen. A trip to the visitor’s center is mandatory to learn about the events in detail through an emotionally charged documentary in the theater, boxes of tissue have been wisely and strategically placed here.

Big Hole National Battlefield Montana #51769 Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Bighole National Battlefield Montana #51769

My next stop was one of the best preserved Ghost Towns in the West, Bannack State Park. Ghost towns are sprinkled all over Montana and most western states but some are nothing more than a few crumbling cabins, stone foundations, or mine shafts, while others are restored beyond their original condition and turned into tourist sites complete with shops selling various wares. Here in Bannack the park has tried successfully to preserve many of the buildings in their original condition. Two of the best are the Hotel Meade and the Mason’s Lodge/Schoolhouse. Here again you can really get a good feel for the history by walking or just sitting around in the quiet hours of early morning or late evening. Of course there are many visitors and locals who will tell you that in certain buildings at certain times you can also experience the history of the town in a supernatural way. One visitor firmly believed that if I examined my photographs closely I will be certain to see evidence of lingering spirits. So far I haven’t, but I was also told that the popular TV series Ghost Adventures is scheduled to film there this summer so maybe they’ll show what I missed.

These are only two of the many historic sites in Montana you can visit, and on future trips I plan on exploring as many as I can find to experience firsthand the rich history of our great land!

Hotel Meade Bannack State Park Montana #51835 Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Hotel Meade, Bannack State Park Montana 51835

Schoolroom Bannack State Park Montana #51926 Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Schoolroom, Bannack State Park Montana #51926

Mining equipment, Bannack State Park Montana #51906 Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Mining equipment, Bannack State Park Montana #51906

Tepee, Bannack State Park Montana #51923 Montana Historic Ghost Towns and Battlefields

Tepee, Bannack State Park Montana, #51923

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