If you take Highway 35 on your way either too or from the Gila Cliff Dwellings you might like to stop off at lovely Lake Roberts, its deep blue waters a surprising sight in this rocky landscape. The lake was created in the early 1960s by damming Sapillo Creek, but it nestles among the pines in avery natural-looking way
This is a good spot for a picnic, and if you want you can camp here too. There’s boating and fishing on the lake for those so inclined, but we enjoyed taking some photos and simply relaxing by the water’s edge after our earlier walk up at the cliff dwellings.
Directions: On Highway 35 a couple of miles souh of the junction with Highway 15
Gila National Forest and Wilderness
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and the the Gila Wilderness. The National Forest occupies 3,521,000 acres of forest and rangeland and embraces the Big Burro, Black, Mogollon Tularosa and Diablo mountains. Elevation range from 4,000 feet in the desert to 11,000 feet at Whitewater Baldy.
Much of the Mogollon Mountains lie within the Gila Wilderness, the first area in the nation to be so designated. Instrumental in its 1924 establishment was Aldo Leopold, the forester and naturalist whose "Sand County Almanac" and other writings have become classics of environmental literature.
In the 1870s the region was the center of a mining boom, of which ghost towns and old mine structures are silent reminders. The 110-mile Trail of the Mountain Spirits/Gila Cliff Dwellings Scenic Byway circles through the area and provides the only route to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, passing over the Pinos Altos Range and by the Clinton P. Anderson Vista, from which this photo was taken.
There are numerous developed recreation areas in the forest. Stream and lake fishing and big game hunting are available in season.
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- National/State Park
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The Last County in New Mexico
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is REALLY off the beaten path, with only one dead-end, narrow, steep, twisting mountain road leading in and out.
Just a couple of miles before we got to the cliff dwellings, we crossed the Catron County Line, which was a real personal milestone for me. With it I have now "collected" all of the 33 counties in New Mexico, and it also makes the 10th state in which I have been to every county.
I started collecting counties about 11 years ago after visiting Maine for the first time. With Maine, I had been to every one of the 50 United States. But I realized that there were so many places in our great land that I had never seen. So I decided that now I would visit every county in America - all 3,141 of them. My reasoning is simple. It would be a real shame to live a long life, grow old, and yet there be places in my own country I had never seen.
Of course this is a goal that one doesn't reach overnight. In fact, it wouldn't be right to rush too much because each county has something unique to offer and each needs to be savored - at least a little. To date I have visited 2,280 counties in the United States, or 72.6 percent of the total. I've got lots of interesting places still to discover.
I know, there's a bigger world out there than just the United States. My greatest fantasy would be to visit every country on earth, but for me that is just not practical - not enough time or money. I have been very fortunate to see 42 countries of the world so far, and hope in time to add to that number as well.
Karen and I are both county collectors and we keep three lists: Karen's, Mine and Ours - the counties we have visited together. I had been counting counties for many years before I discovered that there is a whole club of like minded people out there who are doing the same thing. If the idea appeals to you, I have put a couple of links on our home page which will tell you more. I do know of at least one other county collector on VT. It would be great to learn if there are others.
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