New Mexico February 03, 2017
The Most Criminally Overlooked Town In New Mexico And Why You Need To Visit
The quaint town of Silver City lies in southwestern New Mexico, on the edge of the Gila National Forest. Despite its charms, it’s often overlooked because it isn’t close to any of New Mexico’s bigger cities or off a freeway. You don’t arrive at Silver City by accident but it’s definitely worth coming here by design.
As you amble through Silver City, you get a sense of the town’s past from the well preserved Victorian and Western architecture.
Discover adorable gift shops, stores devoted to yarn, and art galleries. Despite only having a population of 10,315 people, Silver City is an artists' haven and this creative influence is reflected in the number of independent shops and restaurants.
One building sure to catch your attention is the H.B. Ailman House, an enchanting Italianate structure.
Inside, you’ll find the
Silver City Museum,
which provides a solid introduction to the founding of the town in 1870 and local history over the subsequent 100 years. The museum has collections devoted to the area’s Native American tribes and to the mining industry that was key to settling the town. (Address: 312 W. Broadway, Silver City)
One of the most dramatic events in Silver City’s past was the flood that swept through the town in 1895, leaving a 55-foot deep trench in its wake.
Silver City residents took this disaster in-stride and simply converted the back doors of their businesses into front doors, which is why the buildings now open onto Bullard Street rather than Main Street, as you might expect.
The trench left behind by the floodwaters is now Big Ditch Park, a surprisingly lush urban oasis that features picturesque bridges and a creek.
For more info. (Address: 104 E. Market Street, Silver City)
The Mimbres River Preserve is another unexpectedly lovely green space that covers 600 acres and five miles of riverfront.
In addition to being a peaceful place to relax, this riparian habitat also helps to ensure the survival of the endangered Chiricahua leopard frog.
Whenever you visit somewhere new, it’s nice to find an overlook with spectacular views of the whole town.
In Silver City, this spot is Boston Hill, an area consisting of old mining sites that have now given way to trails. (Address: S. Cooper Street, Silver City)
Of course, Silver City’s proximity to 3.5 million acres of prime forest and wilderness make it a hiking mecca and a good base for exploring the most remote portions of southwestern New Mexico.
It may surprise you to learn that Silver City is also a college town.
It’s home to Western New Mexico University, which has a museum displaying exhibits of art and history associated with the Mimbres culture, a tribe that lived in the area between about 1000 – 1150 A.D., which was known for crafting ornate black on white pottery.
(Address: 1000 W College Avenue, Fleming Hall, Silver City)
Perhaps the student population helps to explain how a town this size supports so many annual events and festivals.
There’s something happening almost every month, from Chocolate Fantasia in February (yes, that’s a chocolate festival) to a rodeo in June, and a Clay Festival in July. Silver City puts on a blues fest, the Chicano Music Festival, the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, and numerous car shows throughout the year.
For more info.
With all that celebrating and hiking, you’re likely to work up an appetite. You may feel overwhelmed at choosing between the town’s 50 or so restaurants. The Tapas Tree Grill (601 N Bullard Street, Silver City) is known for savory crepes and empanadas…
…And you can tuck into traditional New Mexican cuisine at Jalisco Café. (Address: 103 S Bullard Street, Silver City)
As you can see, Silver City warrants more than a day trip. Check into Bear Mountain Lodge during your stay.
This B&B that offers comfortable rooms, many of which have mountain views or overlook the spacious 178 acres of grounds. (Address: 60 Bear Mountain Ranch Road)
You won’t be bored in this underappreciated part of the state. Just outside Silver City is the
Santa Rita Mine, which is so immense that it swallowed an entire town! The Gila National Forest is made for scenic – if twisting – drives like the Trail of the Mountain Spirits, which leads you to the incredible Gila Cliff Dwellings.
Have you been to Silver City?