The trip is from Natchez Trace, Tennessee, to Dodge City, Kansas, by way of Tucson, Arizona.
Gila Wilderness Area, New Mexico
Upon leaving City of Rocks State Park, we drove southwest on Rte. 61 back out to Hwy. 180. We continued northwest to Silver City. This is the gateway to the Gila Wilderness Area. We set up in a private campground in town. I don’t mind roughing it, but it’s always refreshing to get electric and water hook-ups.
On the first day we drove northwest out of town on Hwy 180. We were quickly in the mountains.
It was yet another scenic drive.
At Alma, we turned east on Rte. 159 and continued to Catwalk Canyon. This was a short fun hike. We started out walking along and over a stream coming down out of the mountains.
The trail soon grew steep as we entered the canyon.
The trail led onto a steel catwalk.
Originally, silver had been mined far up the canyon, and the canyon was so steep and narrow a pipe had been bolted to the side of the canyon to sluice the mineral out. To maintain the pipe a catwalk had also been installed. When the mines closed the pipe was removed but the catwalk was left intact.
At the end stairs lead down from the catwalk to the creek so you can hike further up the canyon, but we didn’t.
We drove back out to Hwy. 180 and continued north to a bad decision. We had learned of Mogollon, a ghost town way up in the mountains. When we first turned off the highway I enjoyed the drive. It was a good two-lane blacktop road. As we climbed higher and higher into the mountains the road was kickback after kickback as it quickly gained elevation. The views were great and the drive was fun.
But after about five miles the road deteriorated. It narrowed to nearly a single lane, and the pavement was bucking and crumbling, and it began tilting, as if about to slide down the mountain. And I was driving a twenty-three foot motor home. As I said, a bad decision. But I was determined, so we continued slowly for another two miles. We had come seven miles, and the ghost town was supposed to be nine miles from the highway. So it wasn’t that much farther.
Then we drove around a bend and came to a ‘road closed’ sign. Luckily, the road had been closed at one of the few places I had room to back up and turn around. So with my wife out guiding me so that I didn’t drive off the road and go crashing down the side of the mountain, I got turned around. We discussed parking the motor home and hiking the final two miles, but there was no place to leave it. So we carefully creeped back down the broken-up road until we reached good pavement, where we could proceed at a normal pace. Back out to Hwy. 180, we drove southeast back to our campground in Silver City.
The next location is Gila Wilderness Area 2