Photographing the Gila Cliff Dwellings near Silver City, NM

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One of the joys of focusing on being “photographers of the southwest” is the chance to visit many of the American Indian cliff dwelling ruins dotted around the southwestern United States.  These are not the biggest or most frequented, but were interesting and beautiful, nonetheless.  Here is what you might see.1802_PSA_Silver City_IR_131

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is located 160 miles northwest of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The “gateway” town is Silver City where you can stay and eat.  It’s about 1.5 hours south of the Cliff Dwellings.  There is a small visitor center a few miles from the actual dwellings and a large parking lot.  It is just a short, through uphill hike to the actual dwellings.

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We happened to be travelling with Mary’s parents and we were not up for a sunrise or sunset shoot, so it was middle of the day photography for us, which usually means infrared cameras and monochrome conversions for me.  I also think the contrast of infrared really works with these types of subjects that can look washed out and one color  – brown – in color photographs.

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There was a knowledgeable docent inside the dwelling who showed us around and pointed out several cave paintings.

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Depending on how much you like these types of subjects, plan on being on site for 1-2 hours including hiking in and out.  It’s the long drive on a tight two-lane twisting road that takes most of the time.

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Here is our popular blog post about photographing America’s most famous Native American cliff dwellings – Mesa Verde.

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