Today, the dwellings allow a rare glimpse inside the homes and lives of prehistoric Native Americans. About 75% of what is seen is original, although the walls have been capped and the foundations strengthened to prevent further deterioration. It took a great deal of effort to build these homes: The stones were held in place by mortar, and all the clay and water for the mortar had to be carried by hand up from the stream, as the Mogollon did not have any pack animals. The vigas for the roof were cut and shaped with stone axes or fire.
The people who lived here were farmers, as shown by the remains of beans, squash, and corn in their homes. The fields were along the valley of the west fork of the Gila River and on the mesa across the canyon. No signs of irrigation have been found.
Near the visitor center, about a mile away, the remains of an earlier pit house (A.D. 100-400), built below ground level, and later pit houses (up to A.D. 1000), aboveground structures of adobe or wattle, have been found.
The scenic ghost town of Mogollon is 3 1/2 miles north of Glenwood on US 180, and then 9 miles east on NM 159, a narrow mountain road that takes a good 25 minutes to negotiate. The village bears witness to silver and gold mining booms beginning in the late 19th century, and to the disastrous effects of floods and fire in later years. Remains of its last operating mine, the Little Fanny (which ceased operation in the 1950s), are still visible, along with dozens of other old buildings, miners' shacks, and mining paraphernalia. An art gallery and museum are found along Mogollon's main street. The movie My Name Is Nobody, starring Henry Fonda, was filmed here.
Cochise, Geronimo, and other Apache war chiefs held forth in these mountains in the late 19th century. Reserve (pop. 482), 100 miles northwest of Silver City, has a few homes, a store, and a bar. As Catron County's seat, it's noted as the place where, in 1882, Deputy Sheriff Elfego Baca made an epic stand in a 33-hour gun battle with 80 cowboys. In spring 2008, Reserve unveiled a statue of the hero at the center of town. It's an excellent artwork, well worth stopping to see. A good stop in town is Henry's Corner, 109 Main St. (tel. 575/533-6488), where you'll find gas, ice cream, and books, including ones on Elfego Baca, and my own King of the Road. If you're fortunate, owner Henry Martinez will be there to regale you with tales of Elfego.
A Shocking Experience -- If you'd like to have an electrifying moment or two, plan a visit to the Lightning Field, near Quemado (tel. 575/773-4560 or 575/898-3335; www.lightningfield.org). An enormous sculpture by American artist Walter De Maria, it consists of 400 stainless-steel poles arranged in a rectangular grid. Its purpose? To attract those most picturesque and deadly bolts. Visitors are welcome May through October but must reserve months in advance.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.