Explore the beautiful Gila Valley
The Gila Valley is home to diverse landscapes, biology, and wildlife which gives the area a very special array of activities to do and things to see. At 4,500 ft elevation, the valley is an oasis in the southwest and sits just below the headwaters of the Gila River and the southern tip of the Rocky Mountain range. While there are really too many to name, this page provides information on some of our most popular activities and attractions in the surrounding area.
HIKING & HORSEBACK
Hiking in the Gila is a joy as the wilderness offers complete seclusion from motor vehicles and even bicycles. Take a trip to the Turkey Creek Hot Springs (5 miles) and enjoy a soak in the numerous natural hot springs, the largest pool has a natural water slide.
The Gila valley has its roots deep in ranching. The L.C. Ranch was a cornerstone of this rich history and ranching, cowboys, and riding horses is still very engrained in the local culture. Local rodeos, the Grant County Fair, and the Gila Wilderness itself are all in the immediate area to enjoy on horseback. The unlimited restrictions on horseback riding access allows the rider to experience the vastness of the Gila. Not all forest corrals offer water for stock or drinking water. Check for availability of water with the ranger district.
The Gila River is an oasis in southwest New Mexico, at 4,000 feet, the Gila Valley sits at the tip of the Rocky Mountain range and attracts a wide variety of game animals including:
Big Horn Sheep
The Gila National Forest includes more wilderness than any other national forest in the Southwest. This undeveloped natural country can refresh the human spirit simply by its grandeur, purity, and remoteness.
The wilderness areas on the Gila comprise a vast, roadless realm astride the Black, Mogollon, Diablo, and Blue mountain ranges, varying from grassland foothills upward through juniper woodland, ponderosa pine, and then spruce-fir forests on the high peaks. Mountain meadows, aspen glades, and spruce forests border on narrow, rock-walled canyons which in some places plunge to depths of more than a thousand feet.
Wilderness on the Gila National Forest
Three wilderness areas are located within the Gila. The Gila Wilderness, the world's first designated wilderness, was created on June 3, 1924 at the urging of the great conservation pioneer Aldo Leopold. The Aldo Leopold Wilderness lies to the east, while towards the west, the smaller Blue Range Wilderness adjoins Arizona's rugged Blue Range Primitive Area.
Aldo Leopold Wilderness
The Aldo Leopold Wilderness is 202,016-acres and straddles the Black Range on the eastern side of the Forest
Blue Range Wilderness
The 29,304-acre Blue Range Wilderness adjoins Arizona's rugged Blue Range Primitive Area.
Numerous hunting guides and outfitters are available in the area. If you are bringing a group or your own guide, we can accommodate you and your guests at the ranch. In addition, we have facilities to process your game with large commercial refrigeration and equipment, meat grinder and a heated work space.
After your harvest, enjoy all the amenities including the hot tub and drinks at the Saloon. Many of the species listed above adorn the walls of the historic Saloon, and were harvested by family throughout the years.
Many species of fish are found in rivers and streams along the Gila River. Bill Evans Lake is close by and has plentiful rainbow trout. It's also the location of the state record largemouth bass (15 lbs, 13 oz) caught in 1995. The Gila trout is present in Iron, McKenna and Spruce Creeks and is endangered. Brown trout, rainbow trout, catfish and bass are all plentiful in this area.
For more details on hunting and fishing in the Gila, please visit: New Mexico Game & Fish.
The Gila Bird Area runs along the Gila River (and associated valley) from the Gila National Forest boundary below Bill Evans Lake downstream through Gila Bird Area into the Middle Box (BLM) to the southern limit of BLM ownership near Redrock, NM. The area supports extensive areas of SW riparian habitat, including much protected land and many restoration projects. The landscape varies from broad valley to narrow canyon.
From Silver City, drive 25 miles northwest on US 180. Turn left at Bill Evans Lake Road. Go 3.4 miles to the fork in the road. Continue straight on the gravel road for 1.5 miles. The Gila NF is marked by a cattle guard. The gravel road leads to the bird area.
Restored and recently protected areas support large area of southwestern riparian woodlands and assorted avifauna. Breeding Willow Flycatcher (8 pairs), Common Black Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lucy's Warbler, Brown-crested Flycatcher. Federal agency ownership assures long-term commitment to preservation. Surveys by R. Shook (1996-2000) include over 200 species that use the Gila Bird Area alone. Only riparian birds were well-documented; upland species numbers and abundance are not known.
Sources: Research by Gila National Forest, R. Shook, D. Zimmerman of WNMU; Rocky Mountain Research Station (Stoleson); B. Murhage (USDI BLM, Las Cruces office)
The Gila Valley is a driver’s paradise. The temperature fluctuations throughout the year stay in a range that preserves the pavement. While the top coat of tarmac can be a bit dry, you will rarely if ever see a pothole. In addition, our roads have very little traffic and even fewer hidden driveways. Whether you’re in a sports car, or a motorcycle, this is one of the best places in the world to hit some turns. Talk to Alex about the various routes like the Alpine Loop, a 250-mile GT course through beautiful southwestern canyons and high alpine forest.
If off-road is your thing, the burro mountains are a 15-minute drive and offer some of the best variety in off-road terrain anywhere in the country. The area offers over 500 miles of sand washes, rock crawling, and technical forest trails with easy access and few other riders. Alex spent 10 years mapping some of the lesser known trails in the area and can give you all the information you need to have a blast in the dirt. We also offer a local guide if you schedule in advance.
In wilderness there are no roads; the only travel permitted is by foot or horseback. You will find no logging, resorts nor commercial uses of any kind except grazing. Hunting and fishing, however, are open to all citizens under New Mexico game laws.
Please follow these simple points to maintain our wilderness:
Motorized vehicles are not permitted in the wilderness.
Mechanized equipment (including mountain bikes) may not be used in the wilderness.
Leave no trace of your visit.
Check with the local land management agency for trail information and other considerations.
For more details on Gila and activities, please visit: New Mexico Game & Fish: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/ and New Mexico: https://www.newmexico.org/places-to-go/regions-cities/southwest/gila-cliff/.
Catwalk Recreation Center