- The vast 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest, tucked away in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico, is a paradise for those seeking solitude and escape from modern society's busy lifestyle. The Gila's beauty is in its diversity of rugged mountains, deep canyons, meadows, and semidesert 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.
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Blue Range Wilderness, Gila National Forest
The San Francisco, Gila, and Mimbres Rivers, the Catwalk in Whitewater Canyon, Pueblo Park Campground, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Mogollon Baldy, Castle Rock, Eagle Peak Mountain, Emory Pass, and the Burro Mountains are among the many areas 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. Scenic Drives include the Black Range Highway and State Highways 15, 35, 150, and 159.
Whitewater Canyon, site of the famous Catwalk National Recreation Trail, was a central point in the mining saga of southwestern New Mexico. The Catwalk is a unique trail, with suspended walkways winding up a narrow canyon, originally used to maintain an 18-inch pipeline that supplied a rock grinding mill. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon culture who lived there from the 1280s through the early 1300s.
The Gila, Aldo Leopold, and Blue Range Wildernesses offer hiking and horseback riding. The magnificence of these mountainous regions imparts an a feeling of awe and wonderment.
Recreation - The magnificent mountain scenery, cool summer temperatures and relatively warm winters permit a wide range of recreational opportunities during all seasons. Summer activities include camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding, while winter activities include some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails, a number of interpretive trails, picnic grounds, primitive and developed camping grounds. Although the Gila is relatively dry, fish are found in perennial creeks and rivers as well as in manmade lakes. If you are looking for a more primitive recreation experience, the Gila is the place to be.
Climate - Four relatively gentle seasons best describe the climatic conditions in the Gila National Forest. The latitude of the forest as well as the elevation and terrain permits maximum enjoyment of the forest during any season. The most beautiful times of the year in the Gila are spring and late summer. In spring, snowmelt provides enough moisture to initiate new vegetative growth. In late summer, it is warm and the vegetation is still green following the end of summer rainfall season. Aspens are colorful in fall at higher altitudes. In summer, particularly July and August, thunderstorms present dangers of lightning and flash floods. Snow can be expected between November and April, with winter low temperatures dipping as low as 0 degrees F at the high elevations but highs occasionally reaching 70 degrees F at the low elevations.
The Gila National Forest lies in west central and southwest New Mexico. The Gila administers a the large portion of the Apache National Forest which reaches into New Mexico, adjacent to the Gila. The Gila is headquartered in Silver City, New Mexico, with offices also in Mimbres, Truth or Consequences, Glenwood, Reserve and Quemado.