Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wrapping up our Month in Silver City

Neither of us had ever been to Silver City before. We booked a month because it was an area that looked like it had a lot of hiking and exploring to do, the RV park looked nice and had an excellent monthly rate, and we like to build some down time into our travels...we don't like feeling that we always have to go, go, go and see lots of things quickly because we're just passing through. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable month.

Tonight we're having dinner with a wonderful couple we've met, Bill and Heidi. They are full timers also, who spent the winter in Baja California. We've got one more full day before we head for Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, NM.

First, the RV park, Rose Valley RV Ranch, is a wonderful place to stay. I'll post a review soon, but I definitely recommend it for any length of stay.

Rose Valley RV Ranch use to be a dairy farm. Old farm implements are scattered around the property.
View is down a row of back in sites.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know we like to hike. We hike 5 - 7 miles almost every day, with an occasional 9 - 11 mile hike or a mountain biking day thrown in for variety.

Heading up Hwy 15 beyond the small town of Pinos Altos
you can see hoodoo's forming on the hillsides.

The hiking within 10-15 miles of Silver City is abundant and fun and if you want to drive further you'll find tons more excellent trails to keep you fit and happy. For details on some of the hikes summarized below take a look at my posts between March 25 and April 25, 2013.

The local trails we hiked were:
  • Boston Hill - Adjacent to downtown Silver City are several miles of trails situated among the city's original mine pits. Convenient, with great views of the city and surrounding area.
  • Gomez Peak/Little Walnut trail system - Only about 5 miles North of downtown, this trail system offers many miles of trails from easy to strenuous. We hiked just about every trail here and found the strenuous parts were always less than a mile in length and provided fabulous views from the local peaks. You can also access the Continental Divide Trail from here.
  • Fort Bayard Trail System - Extensive trail system about 5 miles East of Silver City. Excellent hiking and mountain biking with everything from easy to strenuous and interesting sights such as petroglyphs, a giant juniper tree and old wagon wheel ruts. This trail system connects into the Gila Wilderness so you can continue for many, many miles.
  • Saddlerock Canyon - Neat little canyon about 15 miles NW of town. Cool rock formations and pictographs.
  • Bear Mountain Lodge - A lovely lodge set in rolling hills just a few minutes North of downtown Silver City with a few miles of trails (open to the public) that abut the Gila National Forest. Neat artwork scattered on the property and in the lodge.
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) - Part of this 3,100 mile trail passes through the Silver City area and there are several access points within 20 miles of town. I couldn't find a good map online, but we got an "okay" map from the Silver City ranger station just off Hwy 180. A good forest service map would be the best option. We accessed the CDT at five points:
    • Little Walnut Rd: There is a dirt parking area about a mile beyond the Little Walnut picnic area. We chose to walk North on the CDT for about 2.5 miles over rolling terrain through mostly scrub oak and juniper and turned around just before the trail headed down a long hill. 
    • Burro Mtn Homestead: Located off Hwy 90, South of Silver City, this dirt road takes you past the Tyrone Mine. We accessed the CDT just beyond the Burro Mtn Homestead RV Park (an ATVers heaven) and headed South on the trail. We went about 2.5 miles over hill and dale, through Ponderosa, juniper and oak forests, had some good views and saw the biggest javelinas we have ever seen.
    • Little Walnut/Gomez Peak trailheads: You can link into the CDT from the Gomez Peak/Little Walnut trailheads via the CDT Access Trail. The CDT Access Trail is an awesome gentle downhill single track weaving through Ponderosa Pine forest and when it connects to the CDT continues South West in this smooth, downhill fashion...it was a wonderful hike and looks like an amazing mountain bike opportunity. 
    • Bear Mountain Rd. - Drive about 2.5 miles from the beginning of Bear Mountain Rd (a dirt road) to where the CDT crosses the road. We hiked North for about 3 miles until we reached the point we had hiked from Little Walnut/Gomez Peak CDT Access Trail. Nice views on this section.
    • Arrastra Site: Located on Hwy 15 about 8 miles North of Silver City, the Arrastra Site is an ore grinding site from the 1860's. We took the CDT North and it started out as an ugly jeep road and soon became a trail headed up the Arrastra Site mountain. About a mile up we saw the trail was bypassing the tops of some hoodoos about 20 feet off the trail...well worth checking out. We went about 2.5 miles and trail seemed to be following old road beds up the mountain, probably used to transport ore in the 1860's. 
Further afield, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Lake Roberts area have lots to offer in the way of history and hiking and gorgeous scenery. There are many more trails and sights to explore within 50 miles of Silver City, making this area something of a retirement destination.

Hanging out on top of hoodoo's overlooking the Hwy 15 corridor in the Gila National Forest.

Downtown Silver City, like most small towns these days, is struggling but puts on a pretty face with beautiful old houses and funky artistic details scattered about. Decent restaurants abound in the area, and even though we don't eat out often we were glad to be in a part of the country where spicy really means spicy!

Mural at the Silver City Food Co-op

The Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House in Pinos Altos, just 6 miles North of Silver City, is a neat old place to catch live music a couple times a week and have a bite to eat.

The Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos.

Silver City was a wonderful place to layover for a month. I think it would be really pretty to visit in September/October, after the monsoonal rains have greened things up and the fall colors start to turn. It can be quite windy in New Mexico in the spring and we did experience some pretty windy days, but rarely was it too windy in the middle of the day to keep us indoors.

I think Silver City could be on our list of potential places to settle down in the future if it weren't quite so dry. The nearest water sources (Lake Roberts and the Gila River) were at least 30 miles North, and most of their rain falls in July and August.

Biking along a stream bed at Fort Bayard
Fording the Gila River near the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
View of the Santa Rita Mine from Hwy 152;
The second largest open pit copper mine in the world.
Javelina seen on the CDT.

Stay tuned for new adventures as we head North through New Mexico and on in to Colorado for the summer.


  1. Thanks for the summary of the hiking around Silver City. We will be there Monday, and there are a few places you mentioned that we didn't get to last year.
    We really like Elephant Butte Lake SP, although we have only stayed at South Monticello campground. There isn't a lot of variety as far as hiking goes in that area, but with the lake so low we did a lot of walks "in" the lake last time we were there.

    And if you feel like eating out, try Cafe Bella Luca or Groovy Gritz in T or C. It's a neat little town.

    1. Thanks for the tips! It's too bad our paths won't cross this time around...

  2. Excellent job of documenting your time in Silver City. I have really enjoyed reading about your travels and hikes there. We look forward to seeing where you are going next. Save travels to your next location.

  3. You certainly made the most of your time in Silver City - so many great adventures. Safe Travels.

  4. Perfect! now we dont have to go far to look for information of things to do when we get there. Thank you this is quite comprehensive. Although it will be a long while before we head back to the west but this is really useful. Thank you.

  5. Great stuff. Looks like a very nice time. We are currently in Flagstaff, and the scenery is just beautiful, so I can relate.

  6. We decided New Mexico is worth exploring more in our future. There seems to be so many hidden gems. We've experienced those same crazy winds here in southern Colorado. Warmer weather is finally on it's way. Safe travels - Ingrid

  7. Great details for future use. Thanks! Sounds like a place worth seeing! Glad you enjoyed your month stay.