Gila National Forest covers a total area of approximately 2.7 million acres of land in West-central New Mexico, making it the sixth largest National Forest in the country. The largest urban area close to the forest is Silver City, NM, but there are several other close-by cities and towns including Las Cruces, Glenwood, Deming, Reserve, Silver City, Truth or Consequences, and Lordsburg.
To access the forest’s resources, you can use several routes including US 180, NM 15, NM 32, NM 35, NM 78, NM 90, NM 152, and NM 1. The forest was established on July 21, 1905, and is governed by the U.S. Forest Service. The topography in the protected land is mainly comprised of a range of climatic areas ranging from semi-desert to alpine country.
Most of the forest land is remote and undeveloped due to the extremely rugged terrain comprised of rugged mountains and deep canyons. That said, several attractions lure visitors to Gila National Forest including three wilderness areas (Gila Wilderness, Blue Range Wilderness, and Aldo Leopold Wilderness) Gila Wilderness is remarkable for several reasons including being the first designated wilderness in the country.
Other attractions to the forest include several rivers like Mimbres River, San Francisco River, and Gila River. Ther are also several hot springs in the forest including Middle Fork Hot Springs, Turkey Creek Hot Springs, and Jordan Hot Springs. Some attractions in the park are accessible using the Catwalk National Recreation Trail which is an excellent trail because it is made up of suspended walkways.
Besides these attractions, the Gila National Forest is also popular for several recreational activities including fishing, camping, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, bird watching, rafting, hiking, ORV riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Amenities in the forest include group camps, 30 campgrounds, picnic sites, and trails totaling hundreds of miles. Gila National Forest is accessible to dogs and other pets as long as you ensure that you maintain control of your pooch at all times. You are also expected to ensure that your dog is well-behaved and that you clean up after your dog.