GILA NATIONAL FOREST
GILA NATIONAL FOREST
3005 Camino Del Bosque
Silver City, New Mexico 88061
Popular theory says that the word Gila was derived from a Spanish contraction of Hah-quah-sa-eel, a Yuma Indian word meaning "running water which is salty". The naming of the Gila National Forest is indicative of its interesting history and beauty. The Forest, tucked away in southwestern New Mexico, is a paradise for those seeking solitude and escape from modern society's busy lifestyle.A thunderstorm forms...
Every National Forest offers its own unique beauty. The Gila's beauty is in its diversity of rugged mountains, deep canyons, meadows, and semi-desert country. Elevations range from 4,200 to 10,900 feet and cover four of the six life zones. Flora and fauna are diverse. Ocotillo and cactus are found in the lower elevations, and juniper, pine, aspen, and spruce-fir forests are plentiful in the high mountains. Wildlife such as the black bear, mountain lion, elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and wild turkey inhabit the Forest while the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and the red-tailed hawk soar in the wind.
The Gila National Forest boasts a rich history of the Mogollon and Apache Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, ranchers, prospectors and miners. Apache Chiefs Mangas Coloradas, Geronimo, and Victorio, Aldo Leopold: conservationist, ecologist and author of the Sand County Almanac, and renowned lion hunter Ben Lilly are but a few of the personalities from the past that have left their mark in the Gila. Place names like Raw Meat Canyon, Tepee Canyon and Grave Canyon tell the tales of the past.Scenic View over the Blue Range Wilderness
Another unique beauty of the Gila National Forest is its wilderness. The Gila, Aldo Leopold, and Blue Range Wildernesses offer unparallel hiking and horseback riding. The magnificence of these mountainous regions imparts an indescribable feeling of awe and wonderment. Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas may have captured the feeling when he said, "Wilderness helped preserve man's capacity for wonder ... the power to feel, if not see, the miracles of life, of beauty, and of harmony around us." The Gila Wilderness was established in 1924 as the first designated wilderness in the country.Gila Cliff Dwellings
The San Francisco, Gila, and Mimbres Rivers, the Catwalk, Pueblo Park Campground, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Mogollon Baldy, Castle Rock, Eagle Peak Mountain, Emory Pass, and the Burro Mountains are among the many islands of beauty on the Gila. Other areas of interest include Cooney's Tomb, El Caso Lookout Tower, Beaverhead, Reed's Peak, Frisco Hot Springs and Cherry Creek.
During one of Aldo Leopold's hunting trips into the Gila National Forest he eloquently stated, "We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes ... something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view." Such is the legacy of the Gila; a beautiful and unique forest with majestic mountains; a complex interwoven fabric of all living things.
The Gila National Forest offers beautiful camping areas that range widely from low to high elevation, lakeside to forested and primitive to developed. The more developed campgrounds offer electrical hookups and dump stations for RV or trailer camping, while the more primitive offer only a toilet. Most of the campsites tend to be directed toward the more primitive camping experience.
Although the Gila is relatively dry, fishing opportunities can be found in many miles of perennial creeks and rivers as well as in manmade lakes. Some of the more common sport fish found in these waters include Rainbow and Brown Trout, Large and Small Mouth Bass as well as Channel and Flathead Catfish. Many native fish are also found in the streams on the Gila, several of these, such as the Gila Trout are considered threatened or endangered. Recovery efforts are underway to help establish fishable populations of the Gila Trout.
Lake Fishing : Lake fishing on the Gila National Forest is limited to three manmade lakes, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) stock all with rainbow trout in fall, winter and spring months. Quemado lake and Snow lake offer year round trout fishing and Lake Roberts offers trout fishing during the cooler months and warm water fishing for channel catfish and small mouth bass during the summer months. There are an additional three lakes, Bear Canyon Reservoir, Wall Lake, and Bill Evans Lake located adjacent to the Forest that are leased by the NMDGF where the public is welcome to fish. Follow this link to the NM Game and Fish weekly fishing report for lakes in southwestern New Mexico.
Stream Fishing : The Gila National Forest contains many miles of streams that provide both cold and warm water fishing opportunities. Both the Gila River and the San Francisco River along with their many tributaries are located within the Forest. Upper reaches and headwater tributaries of both rivers offer trout fishing, the lower reaches of both rivers offer quality warm water fishing opportunities.