Superintendent Steve Riley announced today that both Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and the Gila Visitor Center will reopen on Thursday, June 14, 2012 once furloughed staff is able to return. Normal summer hours of 8 am to 4:30 pm MDT for the visitor center and 9 am to 4 pm (last visitors in by 4, everyone out by 5) for the Cliff Dwellings will be in place beginning Thursday. A guided tour of the Cliff Dwellings will be offered at 1 pm each day as long as staffing permits. The tour starts at the Cliff Dwellings and is available for all visitors who wish to join it. There is a $3 per adult entrance fee to visit the Dwellings.
The levels of smoke generated by the nearby Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire have decreased to the point that the hazardous levels which prompted the May 31, 2012 closure have now routinely dropped into the Good to Moderate Air Quality Index range according to the nearest monitoring station in Gila Hotsprings. This is a nine-fold decrease since June 8 when readings peaked at 360 micrograms per cubic meter, and were significantly higher at the Cliff Dwellings.
“After consultations with US Forest Staff and review of expected weather patterns, I am glad to be able to reopen this jewel of the National Park Service and hope that the rest of the summer will see a return to our more typical Southwest New Mexico summer weather,” said Steve Riley. “While forecasts are for a later than usual start for the rainy season, I hope that we can begin to recover our visitation levels and have another year of breathtaking flowers on the surrounding Gila Wilderness. I look forward to being able to visit some of the burned area myself and watch the recovery begin.”
If weather and fire conditions change dramatically such that smoke levels again go into the unhealthy range, the Monument may be closed for several hours in the mornings until conditions improve. Winds tend to disperse the smoke later in the mornings. Visitors planning trips to the Monument in the near future should first call the visitor center at 575-536-9461 to get information on the latest conditions, or visit the park’s website https://www.nps.gov/gicl.