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New Mexico
Silver City
Gila National Forest

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Silver City, NM 3183a

Silver City, NM 3183a
At various points over the years I've run into references about interesting cliff dwellings, camping, trails, and hot springs in Gila National Forest, and particularly in the area near Silver City, NM. Based on what I'd read and heard, I had this image of an exciting and relatively primitive, but accessible, area to explore. As happens, images often don't quite meet with reality -- the area wasn't anything like what I expected, but it was still very enjoyable to visit and explore.

The first fantasy to get destroyed was camping. Since I camp alone, I don't usually cook and thus my preference is for the campground to be within 10 - 20 miles of some diner or local restaurant where I can go to eat and meet locals. Also, since part of my traveling is to meet and talk with other travelers, I prefer campgrounds that aren't too crowded but where there are a few other campers. And, I prefer campgrounds where there is at least some form of a toilet (an outhouse is okay) and an accessible flat place to sleep. The public campgrounds near Silver City didn't meet any of these criteria -- they were too far out to get back in easily for breakfast, had only a couple of tent sites, and were very primitive (no toilet, very uneven ground). So, I ended up staying at the KOA in Silver City, which ended up being much more enjoyable than my previous experiences with KOA's. The camp site was fine, the showers were clean, the people were friendly, and ended up having some invigorating political discussions -- the only problem was that the KOA was just off the highway and not exactly a rustic experience.

Silver City itself was also not quite what I expected. There was an older downtown area of historic buildings that was similar to older mining towns I've visited. But then there was the relatively suburban sprawl that stretched several miles to the east, complete with multiple "big box" stores (e.g., WalMart, Home Depot) and chain restaurants. I should have also interpreted the name of the town more literally -- the area has some of the largest open pit mines that I've ever seen. But, I learned quickly -- if I went to the older downtown section where there were refurbished historic structures, I didn't feel like I was in "just another suburbia," and there was plenty to explore.

It was difficult to find a good angle to capture the essence of the older part of Silver City, so this is the only picture. BUT, the architecture was interesting, the people that I encountered were friendly, and the restaurants were quite good.

Best viewed as part of New Mexico set.