Trail of the Mountain Spirits Map

Overview

This byway has a number of recreational activities along the way, including canoeing, tubing, biking, horseback riding, hiking, exploring, camping, and fishing. Visitors can walk along and cross the continental divide, explore the old mining and homestead sites, and visit the ruins of ancient cliff-dwellers to gather a sense of what it might have been like to live in their era.

110 miles / 177 km loop, Silver City to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument to San Lorenzo

Key Attractions

  • Camping, hiking, and backpacking – there are many trails and campsites along the byway, including campsites with hookups available for RVs – some popular areas include the Gila National Forest, the Gila Wilderness Area, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

  • Horseback riding and mountain biking – permitted both on and off the numerous trails in Gila National Forest – excellent riding area with beautiful scenery and a cooler mountain climate

  • Canoeing – available and accessible in several places along the Gila River

  • Bayard, NM – visit the old historic mining district, Santa Rita Mine, historical reenactments, old western scenes (like horse-drawn carriages and wagons in the streets), and historic Fort Bayard, the U.S. Army fort

  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument – view the prehistoric cliff homes of the Mogollon people that lived in the area from about the 1280s to early 1300s

  • Gila Wilderness – come view the extensive wilderness area, home to panoramic views and ancient volcanic history – the evidence of basalt boulders and towers remains here today

  • Continental Divide – the byway crosses the divide several times, and crosses paths with the Continental Divide Trail – an important and popular hiking destination

  • Varying, beautiful scenery – from the denser forests of pines and aspens along the mountainous Continental Divide, to the jagged, brown cliffs along the Gila River, to the drier, grassy hills with juniper trees

  • Bird-watching – Lake Roberts and the Cameron Creek birding areas – popular spots for birding – enjoy hundreds of species of birds, including about ten species of hummingbird in this area

  • City of Rocks State Park, located south of the byway, west of NM-61 – visitors can see the unique rock formations, great for exploring, camping, and hiking, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions

Location

  • Located in the center of the southwest quadrant of the state of New Mexico

  • 210 miles southwest of Albuquerque, NM; 109 miles northwest of Las Cruces, NM; 201 miles northeast of Tucson, AZ

  • Driving the byway:

    • The byway is basically the shape of a triangle, with an arm extending from the northern point of the triangle

    • Starting in Silver Springs, NM (the southwestern point of the triangle), at the junction of E. Broadway Street and NM-90, travel north on NM-90 to Hwy 180

    • Drive Hwy 180 a short distance to the junction with NM-15

    • Here the byway splits into two sections (two arms of the triangle), the northern section and the eastern section

    • Northern Section:

      • Take NM-15 north through Pinos Altos

      • Continue north on NM-15 until the byway meets up with the eastern section at NM-15 and NM-35

    • Eastern Section:

      • Take Hwy 180 east and exit onto NM-152, east of Santa Clara

      • Continue on NM-152 until the junction with NM-35

      • Drive NM-35 northwest through Mimbres and continue until the byway meets up with the northern section at the junction of NM-15 and NM-35

      • From the junction of NM-15 and NM-35, drive NM-15 north to the byway’s end, near the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Other Information

  • View map

  • Web site

  • Gas, lodging, food, restrooms, and shopping are located along the byway, mainly in Silver City, NM

  • The portion of the byway located from NM-15 to NM-35 is not recommended for RVs and trailers


(This site is funded in part by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.)