The Continental Divide Trail’s First Gateway Community
About Silver City
A vibrant community and a hotbed for the arts, Silver City is tucked in the high desert of southwest New Mexico. The Pinos Altos (Tall Pines) Range lies on the town’s northern outskirts, and the vast Gila Wilderness, sculpted by the Gila River unfolds beyond. With the rugged Mogollon Range to the west, Black Range to the east, and the arroyos, plains, and isolated “sky island” ranges of the Chihuahua desert to the south, this area is exceptionally ecologically diverse.
The area now known as Silver City has been inhabited for over 7,000 years. People of what is known as the Desert Archaic culture were its first inhabitants. The Chihuahuan-influenced Mogollon people moved into the area about 2,000 years ago and left behind artifacts like pottery, turquoise, and beads. The Apache Indians replaced the Mogollons about 500 years ago. Geronimo, the iconic Apache leader, was born in the Gila Wilderness north of Silver City in 1829.
Spanish colonists established the first non-native establishment in the early 1800s at Santa Rita del Cobre, just east of present-day Silver City. Copper was mined here under Mexican governance until 1837. The Town of Silver City was established in the 1870s, following the discovery of silver here. It quickly became a boom town, and mining has been a continuous presence here. Ranching, mining, and healthcare have been key industries here ever since. The nearby Gila Wilderness, the world’s first designated wilderness area, was established in 1924 at the behest of the iconic conservationist, Aldo Leopold, who worked throughout the Gila National Forest.
Though three copper mines are still operating (Chino, Cobre, and Tyrone), mining’s future has become more precarious. In response, Silver City is redeveloping itself as a destination for arts, culture, and the outdoors. The town’s Spanish origins and proximity to Mexico make it a cultural melting pot, and ecologically, too – it’s geographic location in the transition zone from desert to forest lends exceptional biodiversity. With a thriving arts community, diverse food scene, quaint downtown, and boundless outdoor recreation, Silver City has a little something for everyone.
Many thanks to the Silver City Public Library and Silver City Museum for their assistance in compiling this information.
Silver City as a Gateway Community
Local CDT Gateway Community Committee members, Nancy Cliff and Shelby Hallmark, explain what makes Silver City an ideal Gateway Community:
“Those who know and love the area in Southwestern New Mexico, its Mogollon, Burro, Black, Pinos Altos and Silver Range mountains, its 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest, and its free-flowing Gila River, have always recognized that Silver City is a gateway community. Designating Silver City, New Mexico, as the first Gateway Community on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail follows another historic first. Our neighboring Gila Wilderness, now over half a million acres, was the world’s first designated wilderness. [“The Gila”] includes hundreds of miles of world-class trails, of which the Continental Divide Trail is most prominent. Thru-hikers have long used Silver City as a rest-and-resupply location, and we look forward to welcoming hikers of all ages and abilities to our Town.”
Population: 10,315 (2010 Census)
The Essentials: Where to Stay and Eat
This page lists many options.
Most popular with hikers are:
Murray Hotel: 200 W Broadway St, (575) 956-9400
Palace Hotel: 106 W Broadway St, (575) 388-1811
Copper Manor Hotel: 710 Silver Heights Blvd, (575) 538-5392
Silver City RV Park: 1304 N Bennett St, (575) 538-2239
Burro Mountain Homestead: Located one mile off-trail in the Burro Mountains. See map above. (575) 538-2149
Options are excellent in this small town! Explore many more options here
Among those that are often recommended:
Tapas Tree Grill: 601 N Bullard St Suite E, (575) 597-8272
Tre Rosat: 304 N Bullard St, (575) 654-4919
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery: 200 N Bullard St, (575) 956-6144
Co-op Market Café: 614 N Bullard St, (575) 956-6487
Mexico Viejo: 202 E Broadway St
Silver City Food Co-op: 520 N. Bullard St
Albertsons: 1956 Hwy 180 E
Walmart: 2501 US-180 (Open 24 hrs)
Silver City Food Basket: 1220 N. Hudson St
Jumping Cactus: 503 N. Bullard St, (575) 654-7367
Yankie Creek Coffee House: 112 W. Yankie St, (575) 534-9025
Javalina Coffee House: 117 W. Market St. N, (575) 388-1350
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery: 200 N Bullard Street, (575) 956-6144
Diane’s Restaurant & Parlor: 510 N Bullard St, (575) 538-8722
Q’s Southern Bistro: 101 W College Ave, (575) 534-4401
Other Resources: Gear, Information, etc.
Silver City Post Office: 500 N. Hudson St., (575) 538-2831.
Hours: Mon – Fri 8:30 AM – 5 PM, Sat 10 AM – 12 PM
Billy Casper Wellness Center: 300 16th Street, (575) 538-4844.
Hours: Mon – Fri 5 AM – 9 PM, Sat 8 AM – 4 PM, Sun 8 AM – 2 PM
Day Pass to fitness center (includes access to showers): $7
Laundryland USA: 407 N Hudson St, (575) 538-2631
12th Street Laundry/American Laundry Dry Cleaning: 121 W 12th St, (575) 388-1842
Murray Ryan Visitor Center, 201 N. Hudson St.
Hours: Mon – Sat 9 AM -5 PM, Sun 10 AM – 2 PM
Burro Mountain Homestead
A mile from the trail in the Burro Mountains, this RV and lodging destination park offers its services to hikers. They accept resupply boxes, provide water, and offer camping for $12/night, along with laundry and shower facilities.
Packages can be shipped to:
BMH Office 665 Tyrone Rd.
Silver City, NM 88061
Phone: (575) 538-2149
Transportation & Trail Access
Grant County Airport (SVC): 188 Airport Rd, Hurley, NM 88043, (575) 313-2496
Serviced by Boutique Air
Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 1455 US-180, (575) 534-0000
Can pick up and drop off at the airport
Corre Caminos, 866-934-3866, 575-388-3180
Runs local routes as well as trips to Deming and Lordsburg – call for more information and additional routes.
Rent a bicycle from Gila Hike & Bike
Continental Divide Trail Access
South of Silver City
Head south on NM 90 for about 20 miles. A USDA Forest Service sign on your right will point you to a Trailhead on your right. This section of the CDT takes you to Jack’s Peak at 7986’ and Burro Peak at 8035’.
Fantastic views of the area can be had on the way up and at the top of each summit! After Burro Peak at about 5 miles, the trail’s current route descends to Tyrone Road and connects back to NM 90, about 11 miles south of town.
North of Silver City
Access a rolling, wooded section of the CDT by taking Little Walnut Rd north of Silver City. Continue past the Gomez Peak Day Use area and the Little Walnut Picnic Area, remaining on FR 506. 1.8 miles after the road turns to dirt from pavement, you’ll find a parking area on the left side of the road. Traverse south for excellent views of Bear Mountain to the west and dip into the Walnut Creek drainage. Or, head north from the road, where you’ll be able to hike to views of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery, which abuts the Gila National Forest.
Events & Attractions
CDT Trail Days & Kick-Off
April 28 – 30, 2017. Celebrates the launch of the CDT Hiking Season and Silver City as the first CDT Gateway Community
Tour of the Gila
May 4 – 8, 2016. The Tour of the Gila is one of the most challenging and iconic bicycle stage races in the U.S., attracting over 600 professional and amateur racers. The race has the feel of European racing on the winding, narrow mountain roads in the Gila National Forest.
Silver City Blues & Bikes Festival
Memorial Day Weekend, May 27 – 29, 2016. Friday features motorcycle activities. Blues kick-off dance on Friday night. One of the Southwest’s premier FREE Blues Festivals featuring not only the brightest rising stars of the Blues but classic respected performers that have toured the world.
Silver City Clay Festival
July 23 – July 31, 2016. This week long celebration offers exhibits, fabulous workshops, youth activities, films and all sorts of mud fun! Also available are free lectures, tours, clay demonstrations and more.
Chicano Music Fest
Labor Day Weekend, 2016. This show is packed with music acts, a kick-off dance, 2 stages for live music, and a car and bike show.
Gila River Festival
September 22-25, 2016. Celebrating the last, free-flowing river in the Southwest, this premier nature festival offers attendees a variety of expert -guided field trips in the Gila National Forest, the Gila River and in Silver City.
Day of the Dead
October 30 – November 4, 2016. Dia de los Muertos. Silver City downtown. Spread out over several days, the celebration will include a parade, music, crafts for the family, and traditional art & food.
Downtown Historic District
The historic district of Silver City can be enjoyed in a walk of an hour or two. Adobe and brick houses and commercial buildings span the centuries from the late 1800s. Stop by the Murray Ryan Visitors’ Center, 201 N. Hudson Street at Broadway, for area maps, walking guides, and local information. Downtown Silver City has more than 30 art galleries, and several more are a short drive from downtown. The town has an unusual complement of antique and second-hand shops, bookshops, restaurants, and coffee houses, with performances of folk, blues, jazz and classical music. The Silver City Museum is an outstanding small museum housed in the Allman House, one of the town’s well-preserved historic homes.
Silver City’s Grant County, as well as the surrounding counties of Catron and Hidalgo, are rich in naturally occurring mineral hot springs. These vary in accessibility from hot springs resorts complete with soaking tubs and lodging facilities to remote bubbling holes in the ground by a river in the Gila Wilderness. Come soak in the healing warm waters and feel the soul of New Mexico! Visit natural hot springs, the Wilderness Lodge, the Wildwood Retreat, or Faywood Hot Springs.
Gila National Forest and Trail of the Mountain Spirits Byway
The Gila National Forest, which includes the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, Gila Wilderness, and the Blue Range Wilderness, is the largest continuous wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Enjoy hot springs, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding and birding in this beautiful, unpopulated region of our country. The Trail of the Mountain Spirits is a 93-mile journey through the beauty, heart, and soul of New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. This is where miners, homesteaders, Indians, Spanish explorers, and mountain men left their mark and where nature has chosen to forge its convergence of major ecosystems: the Chihuahuan Desert, the Sonoran Desert, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Madre Mountains. Experience this glorious scenic byway as it takes you through New Mexico’s true Old West.
Pinos Altos, with its tall pines, is 6 miles north of Silver City on NM 15 and is 1000 feet higher in elevation. Pinos Altos had its own gold rush in 1860. Buildings from the 1800s are still inhabited, and you can get a good steak and evening entertainment at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House on Main Street.
City of Rocks State Park
City of Rocks is an unusual and beautiful spot about 45 minutes south of Silver City. Drive south on US 180, then northeast on NM Highway 61 about 4 miles. The “city” was created by a huge volcanic explosion and subsequent erosion that formed smooth pinnacles in fantastic shapes. Desert animals, birds and plants are plentiful, and the dark night skies are famous for observing the heavens. Picnicking and camping sites beckon in the private-feeling spaces among the rocks.
Information courtesy of Silver City Tourism and Silver City CLAY Festival. View all events and attractions here