We’ll leave the Valley with a stop for coffee and goodies, on our way to enjoy lunch on self, in Duncan, the last stop before the New Mexico border. After lunch, it’s back on the bus and we’re headed for Silver City, just across the Arizona border in the southwest corner of New Mexico. This boyhood town of Billy the Kid is rich with Old West Heritage, incredible scenery, and a vibrant arts community. We’ll check into our hotel and after a refresh, we’ll head into the historic downtown area, home to more than a dozen great restaurants, plenty of murals and thirty-plus art galleries. It’s a well-known fact that Silver City boasts some of the nation’s most accomplished young chefs, and we’ll head out for a fantastic dinner on self, in a town that is famously fun!
We’ll enjoy breakfast, included, at the hotel, and then it’s back on the van to drive the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway. We’ll travel through the beautiful Mimbres Valley, into San Lorenzo, a quiet village and home to the historic San Lorenzo church, said to be the site of an actual miracle. Further into the Mimbres Valley, we’ll take the cut-off to beautiful Bear Canyon Lake and head for the famous Gila Cliff Dwellings. For thousands of years, nomadic people used the caves of the Gila River as a temporary shelter. By the late 1200’s, people of the Mogollan Culture settled into this region, building rooms in the cliff dwellings for a brief period of about 20 years, before moving on. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch, included, at the Gila Cliff Dwellings trailhead, a gorgeous setting overlooking the ruins. If you’re feeling ambitious, a 2-minute walk will take you to a wall of pictographs, a 5-minute walk will take you to a three-room dwelling, and an uphill climb that is equivalent to 18 flights of stairs will take you into the Gila Cliff Dwellings. After lunch, we’ll continue past lush green fields and grazing horses, with plenty of scenic stops along the way to enjoy the butterflies, 337 different species of birds, and abundant wildflowers. We’ll stop at Lake Roberts, where it is very common to find whole herds of deer grazing along the road. From here we’ll head for the old mining community of Pinos Altos, where gold was discovered in 1860 and many of the buildings from that era are still standing. Continuing on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits, we’ll stop at an overlook to explore a panoramic view of the Chino mine, one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. From here we’ll head back into Silver City for a refresh at our hotel, then it’s downtown for dinner on self, and later a free evening.
We’ll enjoy breakfast, included at the hotel, and then it’s bags out and we are on our way to the Catwalk, a National Recreation trail along the canyon of Whitewater Creek. The Catwalk follows the path of the pipeline built in the 1890’s to deliver water to the mining town of Graham. Workmen had to enter the canyon by crawling atop the narrow pipeline named the “Catwalk.” In the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt the Catwalk as a recreation area for the Gila National Forest. Metal walkways are bolted to the narrow canyon walls where there was no room to cut a trail, creating an easy walkway, and offering a dramatic view of the swiftly running Whitewater Creek, and the canyon once used as a hideout for both Geronimo and Butch Cassidy. Later it’s back in the van, and we’re headed for home with a stop for lunch on self, and all kinds of great sightseeing along the way. Come with us!