Places to Protect
A diverse group of conservation, recreation, and hunting and fishing organizations came together to develop a Wilderness and Eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers proposal to the Gila National Forest. The proposal identifies several priority conservation areas that the Forest Service should recommend for wilderness or special management areas in the new forest plan.
Created through extensive field inventories and community input, this proposal aims to preserve the very best Nuestro Gila has to offer and is based on a collaborative, science-based framework that incorporates the multiple voices who rely on and enjoy the forest, while conserving and enhancing our water resources.
These areas under consideration are wild and without roads—any existing legal motorized and mechanized access would remain unchanged. No roads that are currently open to public motorized use would be closed. Motorized access decisions will not be addressed or changed at all during the forest plan process.
Gila Middle Box
Home to the endangered fish Loach Minnow and Spikedace, and two threatened birds, Southwest Willow Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the Gila River flows through the Big Burro Mountains and is great for rafting, hiking, backpacking, hunting, and horseback riding.
The free-flowing San Francisco River and rugged Saliz Mountains are enjoyed best by primitive recreation enthusiasts. The area is also home to the Mexican gray wolf.
Lower San Francisco River Canyon
The Lower San Francisco River Canyon’s ranged elevations provide tremendous vistas and picnicking opportunities with access to the San Francisco River. The canyon’s habitat is rich with mountain lion, black bear, white-tailed and mule deer, coatimundi, and bighorn sheep.
Lush wildflower and old-growth forest surround the free-flowing east fork of the Mimbres
River in McKnight Canyon. This area is perfect for hiking, camping, and backpacking.
Eight miles of the free-flowing Gila River and its tributaries, including Mogollon Creek, reside in the Mogollon Box. This place offers visitors adventure and solitude, while demanding self-reliance.
Just 15 miles from Silver City, Tadpole Ridge offers panoramic views in every direction and provides an ideal environment for mountain lion, bobcat, deer, elk, turkey, and black bear. This area is a popular mountain biking, hiking and hunting destination.
Upper San Francisco Box
Along the Upper San Francisco Box are mountain ranges like the Freeman and Dillon mountains, as well as the Starkweather and Geronimo canyons. It is a great location for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.
Varied and stunning natural formations surround the Aspen Mountain area, including the headwaters of Pueblo Creek, Saliz Canyon, and Maverick Peak. The area provides ample opportunity for hiking, backpacking, camping, hunting, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing of the local mountain lion, black bear, elk, and turkey.
Sweeping views, towering ridgelines, and deep canyons and gorges line Deep Creek, home to the Mexican spotted owl and grey wolf, Coues deer, and black bear. Visitors are called to enjoy the solitude of nature through hiking, backpacking, hunting, and horseback riding.
Hell Hole offers rocky peaks with vista views, pine-oak woodlands, forests, and rugged canyons. Here, opportunities for unconfined or primitive experiences, including trail use and camping, are abundant. Bird watchers can find a variety of species, including yellow-rumped warblers, spotted towhees, northern flickers, and downy woodpeckers.
Beautiful sweeping views, numerous open canyons to explore, and soaring ridgelines mark Mineral Creek. Evidence of late 19th century mining activities inspire a sense of wonder and stand in stark contrast to the otherwise remote, wild experience. Mineral Creek is home to bobcats, coyote, Coues deer, elk, and Mexican spotted owl. The area welcomes horseback riding, hunting, hiking, backpacking, and geology viewing.
Stunning peaks and rugged canyons make up Rabb Park, the habitat of coatimundi, mountain lion, black bear, and bobcats. Hiking, camping, backpacking, horseback riding, and hunting are popular recreational activities of the area.
Visitors to Taylor Creek can discover significant archeological resources, including numerous cliff dwellings, as well as a wide variety of vegetation, including Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, and Rocky Mountain juniper. Taylor Creek provides opportunities for hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, floating, and cross-country skiing.
Primarily comprised of open grassland, Wolf Hollow is an ideal camping site with access to the Gila National Forest’s many hiking, fishing, and hunting sites.
Eagle Peak is the highest point of the Tularosa Mountains and offers beautiful scenery of the local ponderosa pines and other vegetation.