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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Big Rocks and a Funky Town

Rick Morgan

City of Rocks State Park between Deming and Silver City, NM is perhaps one of the more unusual parks where we have camped. If you are familiar with the Chichauan desert in southwestern NM you know that it is pretty much a flat, barren, and scrubby landscape with distant horizons of the surrounding mountain ranges. And that is what you see before you crest the hill just south of the park and get your first look at what for us was a very unexpected sight – lots of really big rocks. Yes, a City of Rocks.

Geologists tell us that this area was formed by a very large volcanic eruption the occurred millions of years ago. The Columnar rock formations we see today resulted from millions of years of erosion. In a few million more years what we see today will probably be reduced to dust but for now we get to marvel at this very unique place.

We had reserved a site out in the Pegasus camping area, which sits apart from the main camping area. We had expected this to be a pretty isolated and quite spot. Unfortunately, the first day we had some “nut case” that spent the day yelling (no screaming) at his dogs. Thankfully, he left the following day and this park served as a perfect home base for us as we explored the park and surrounding area. You can check out our visit to Gila National Wilderness and the Gila Cliff Dwellings here. The bonus was the great sunsets.

On of our days of exploration, we stopped in Silver City. Silver was discovered here in 1870 and the town grew from a single cabin to over 80 buildings almost overnight. Like so many mining towns in the west boom went to bust. In this case the switch came as a result of the 1893 economic depression and the return to the gold standard after the 1896 presidential election. Yet, do to an ordinance requiring brick construction of most buildings the town dogged the ghost town fate of many frame built mining towns.

Today, Silver City is a “funky” little city. It stands as a gateway to the Gila National Wilderness and home to an eclectic collection of little shops, galleries and restaurants. We had a good lunch at Tre Rosat Cafe, which we were told is Albanian for Three Ducks. Go figure!

If you visit Silver City make the Visitor Center you first stop. You can get a city walking guide and read up on some of the local history.

More pictures here.