Less than 200 miles from our last stop in Bisbee, Silver City is another quaint and quirky locale. Originally an Apache camp, Silver (as the locals call it) mushroomed into a mining town with the discovery of silver ore in the 1870s. It’s still a mining town (copper, now) and retains its rough-around-the-edges Western frontier atmosphere—but an influx of artists, musicians, and restaurateurs over the past several decades has brought an interesting mix of art galleries, music events, and creative restaurants to town.
The Blues Festival was outstanding—and free. We toted in our chairs and a picnic, and spent all day enjoying the music—our favorites were a fabulous blues singer/pianist from Kansas City (Kelley Hunt) and a soulful, rocking performance by Hazel Miller (her t-shirt read, “Stay Calm and Add Green Chile”).
Just as much fun was watching the audience dancing and partying to the music. Check out the guy in the orange Harley t-shirt when he REALLY gets grooving:
There’s a lot to explore in Silver City—this was our third visit (this time, three days). It wasn’t enough. We can’t wait to return—next time, for at least a week.
Here, our favorites this time around:
•Silver City Blues Festival
Every Memorial Day weekend, the Mimbres Region Arts Council presents the Southwest’s premier free blues festival. For three days, downtown Gough Park is transformed into an outdoors blues club, featuring non-stop performances by well-known blues artists and rising blues stars. The music is fantastic, the crowd is enthusiastic, and it’s a great party.
•Exploring The Town
Silver City is small (population 10,500) with a very walkable downtown area. Historic, low-key, and with a western vibe, the architecture is an eclectic mix of frontier western, Victorian, and art deco decked out in a wild candy-colored paint palette—the buildings almost glow in the late afternoon southwestern light.
Although the street art doesn’t achieve the can’t-stop-themselves fervor of Bisbeeans, there are plenty of mosaics and murals decorating the town. And if you enjoy art—or just want to stroll down a very colorful street—you must take a turn down Yankie Street, home to an array of delightful independent galleries.
We’re always on the lookout for unique dining experiences, and this was one of the best. It’s tiny (a handful of tables) and beyond eclectic (a bizarre and delightful Buddhist/East Indian/Mexican décor). The food at Cafe 1zero6 matches the decor, with a menu that offers three entrees that change weekly. Open only on weekends, Jake (the owner) cooks for 25 people and then shuts down the kitchen. He is a colorful character, heavily tattooed, meticulous in his kitchen, and wildly creative. We hung out with him in his backyard herb garden after our fabulous dinner and talked about food, travel, and life in Silver City.
Dinner was amazing—shrimp in green curry with coconut milk; pork kebabs with a tamarind glaze and saffron basmati rice. Jake is a culinary wizard—if you’re ever in Silver City, this is a place you must go.
•The Dragonfly Trail
Silver City backs up to the Gila National Forest, 2.7 million acres of beautiful forest containing a wealth of native cultural sites, trails, and hot springs. On this visit, we hiked the Dragonfly Trail, just three miles outside of town. It’s a beautiful four-mile hike, and even though it was a holiday weekend, we mostly had it to ourselves.
The petroglyphs were the work of the Mimbres, native peoples who inhabited southwestern New Mexico from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1250. No one knows for certain the meaning of the dragonfly petroglyphs—perhaps they were symbolic of nearby water. We certainly saw an abundance of the little flying jewels near the creek while we were hiking and searching for rock art.
•The RV Park
We stayed at Rose Valley RV Ranch, a former dairy farm with spacious sites, private cedar fenced patios, and rustic western décor (windmill, antique farm implements, etc.). It’s quiet and dark (just the way we like it), and just a couple of miles from downtown. They accept a combination of Passport America and Good Sam, which brought the rates to about $20 a night for our three-night stay.[portfolio_slideshow]