Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument increasing recreational access


Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning Monday June 15 the Upper and Lower Scorpion Campgrounds will be open and available for camping. Due to a recent Agreement signed by the Gila National Forest and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, the National Park Service will be managing the Upper and Lower Scorpions campgrounds.

The Gila National Forest is currently under a campfire ban, including the use of charcoal. Use of pressurized fuel devices are acceptable. The National Park Service is continuing to comply with this ban.  

Visitors should be aware that there are wildfires in the area and there may be smoke impacts to visitors and communities. Please see the New Mexico Department of Health site, for guidance on mitigating your smoke exposure.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures by staying inside during heavy smoke periods and avoiding outdoor activities.

Beginning Thursday June 18 the park and its non-profit partner Western National Parks Association (WNPA) will open a temporary Park Store near the Trailhead. There will be limited availability of products such as books, t-shirts and other collectibles. For the safety of the visitors and staff and to reduce the likelihood of transmission, credit and debit cards are preferred.

Park Rangers ask that visitors remain patient and flexible with their plans. It is recommended that visitors call before visiting the monument for current conditions.

In addition, the following spaces continue to be available:    

  • Access to the cliff dwellings via Cliff Dweller Trail. Rangers may limit access to the dwellings to ensure social distancing can be maintained. Groups of 5 or less will be allowed in every 10-15 minutes.
  • Vault toilets at the Trailhead will be available. Hand sanitizer is not available, but a temporary hand-washing station is available in the parking lot.
  • Trailhead Picnic Area, please remember to Pack it In – Pack it Out.
  • Some Gila Wilderness area trails

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • Gila Visitor Center & Trailhead Museum
  • Visitor Center bathrooms and Comfort Stations throughout the Gila National Forest

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public access is safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website www.nps.goc/gicl and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on