Monday, May 23, 2011

Tombstone and Gila River

While I was studying the map trying to find PATAGONIA, I saw that Tombstone, AZ, wasn't too far out of my way as I planned to head out towards New Mexico. I sorted my route out and landed right next to the OK CORRAL.
a major gun fight went down here back in the day
Allen Street in Tombstone... OG transportation
I did see a Wyatt Earp impersonator, but felt disappointed that there were no references to YOUNG GUNS or YOUNG GUNS II... No Lou Diamond Phillips or Emilio Estevez impersonators... Come to think of it, I don't believe that the movie Young Guns was set in Tombstone, but I still felt cheated.

Then it was back on the open road. Next stop was a cluster of hot springs along the Gila River in SW New Mexico and a cliff dwelling site.
Road shot outside of Tombstone - lonesome highway

Gila cliff dwellings
The road into the Gila National Forest was windy as could be. Signs stated that the 28 mile trip would take 2hours. I made it in an hour and just in time to run up the path and get the last tour of the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
I went to Bandelier cliff dwellings in 1978
lightfeather or middlefork hot spring
After walking down with the volunteer staff and discussing the hot springs in the area, I made the short drive to the trailhead for the above hot spring.. I know it doesn't look like much, but it was refreshing to dig out a bigger spot and I was able to find the right mix of cold river water to scalding hot spring water. The birds were out and my head had a marvelous view right at river level. Driving back to town I realized that the next 3 spots were all within a half a mile from each other.

wildwood retreat & hot springs
the wilderness lodge hot springs
Both Wildwood and Wilderness cost a few bucks to soak. Wildwood is by far the best of the two. I wish I would have stayed longer at Wildwood but was anxious to squeeze in all 3 that evening.
And closest to the river was the 3 pools at the Gila River Campground. It's $4 to soak or $5 to camp and soak. I got the last camping spot in the joint.

the hottest - aka too hot for me
the least hot - aka not hot enough for me
It turned out that the only CLOTHING OPTIONAL pool was the one with the best temperature. I spent all my time in this one. Evening and early morning. Plus that morning I had a great conversation with a Japanese traveler named Masa. It would have been a great op to get out the FREE BOX, but I had to hike to their camp spot and it just wasn't in the cards.
the clothing optional pool was just right!

I drove out of the region mid morning in search of Faywood Hot Springs. On route I came across one of the largest copper mines in the SW. Santa Rita Mine.
the scar on the earth
When I got to Faywood, I was bummed to see that it was closed. I drove a little further to ROCK CITY and the ranger told me that since the owner died a few years ago, the hot springs have been closed ever since. I pushed on to Las Cruces in search of ditches. Since the 1980's I've been hearing about the legendary spillways in Las Cruces and was hopeful I could sniff some out!


  1. I would have thought that the way Lou Diamond Phillips career is going that he might actually be at Tombstone doing impersonations and selling off his Young Guns props. I think I will have to rent that movie this week.
    That is a lot of hot springs my friend. The number of your hot spring photos are catching up with amount of my climbing photos. Damn cheap to soak and camp at Gila River!

  2. What's the story on the cliff dwellings? How old are they? Who dwelled there?

  3. Faywood hotsprings has reopened with new owners. BTW its City Of Rocks State park not rock city. And silver city has a decent skate park.