Monday, April 25, 2011

The Catwalk

Today we drove north from Silver City on US 180 to The Catwalk, a trail up Whitewater Canyon that includes a suspended walkway. In 1889 silver was discovered up the canyon and in 1893 a mill was built near the base of the canyon to process the ore. The mill needed water to operate it's generator so a 4-inch metal pipeline was installed in the canyon to provide a continuous water supply to the town there and the mill. In 1897 a larger 18-inch pipeline was built to run a new, bigger generator. The canyon is so narrow that the ore was not brought through the canyon, but instead was carried along the top and lowered into the mill.

In the 1930s the CCC (yes, they were here, too) constructed the Catwalk to make the canyon accessible for recreation. Since then, the US Forest Service has reconstructed it twice.

The drive to The Catwalk was very pretty.

Here you can see the treeline that shows where the Gila River flows. For three winters we have stayed near the dry bed of the Gila in Arizona. That river had watered the fields and villages of the people who built Casa Grande Ruins, where we were volunteers.

In New Mexico, the Gila is actually a flowing river.

To reach The Catwalk, we walked through the large picnic area with the very nice entrance gate. Many large sycamore trees grow in the picnic area and up the canyon.

Many sections of the 1.1 mile trail are on metal platforms anchored in the rock walls of the canyon.

This stairway leads down to creek level.

This photo helps show how narrow and high the canyon is.

There are numerous small waterfalls along Whitewater Creek.

Not all of the trail was hanging from the canyon walls. We had to duck between two boulders in one place.

Some of the trees had leafed out and were a great shade of green.

In one area, we walked under a large rock overhang.

We really enjoyed this walk. Though we had to drive about 60 miles to get there, it was a great outing. We saw this neat old car along the road as we returned to our RV site.


  1. Cool. I didn't know there was anything like this in New Mexico, but I've never been on 180 north of Silver City. I understand it's a beautiful drive. funny though - we did Johnston Canyon outside of Banff, Alberta and it looks very similar. I'll put it on my list.

  2. We love N.M ,brings a lot of memories....great pictures and nice walk.