The Gila River is a major waterway for Arizona, though significant flows are rare. This reach usually runs year-round, depending upon local rainfall, but the best conditions are normally found in the early to late spring, when snows melt in the San Francisco Mountains of Apache National Forest in far western New Mexico. The river begins as three forks (North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork) north of Silver City and west of Truth of Consequences. From its headwaters the Gila River flows west through Safford, Florence, Glendale and Yuma, then into California along the Mexico border to the Colorado River. The Gila River has three major tributaries in the San Carlos, San Francisco and San Simon Rivers in southeastern Arizona.
From the Virden, New Mexico access off SH 92 (SH 75 in Arizona) to Solomon Pass Road low-water bridge take-out just north of Solomon, the Gila River flows about 65 miles. The first 40 miles is in a southeast to northwest direction, turning northeast to southwest about a mile above the Eagle Creek confluence, then flowing about 13.5 miles to the Dry Canyon boat take-out (BLM) and finally about 11.5 miles more to the Town of Solomon at US Highway 70 near Rope Lake State Park. Like most Arizona waterways, the Gila spends most of its life as a dry, sandy riverbed with a lot of small to large rocks holding it down, but this reach is generally navigable year-round, and after any significant local rainfall the stream can rise quickly to a Class II to III river with a moderately strong current. It is free-flowing from its New Mexico headwaters to Ashurst-Hayden Dam about 15 miles below the Town of Kelvin, including the entire run described in this report.
The Gila is very typically Arizona topography - all around the riverbed is miles of Sonoran desert, rolling hills, small, sandy mountains with scrub brush foliage and a lot of snakes, scorpions and other unsavory critters that paddlers would usually rather not encounter. The Gila Box area is rife with an abundance of Arizona sycamores, Goodding willows, Fremont cottonwoods, walnuts, mesquite and numerous species of ground vegetation that create a green ribbon of plant life along the river corridor. The Box is home to about 42 mammal, 175 bird, 34 reptile and 10 amphibian species of wildlife that are supported by native vegetation and the river. Black bears, mule deer, javelina, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, beavers, mountain lions and other such creatures may be seen by a lucky visitor to this area.
Late fall rains sometimes provide the most dependable flows for boating, but this river can rise anytime it rains hard, then drop again almost as suddenly. Sustainable flows seldom last for more than a few days to a few weeks. There are no river-related services along this reach of the river.
River description provided by <A HREF=http://southwestpaddler.com/>Southwest Paddler</A> and is used with permission
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In her campaign, newly elected Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham laid out a plan to end work on the Gila River Diversion Project. This past Friday she took great strides towards that promise by vetoing $1.698M in New Mexico Unit funding requested by the Interstate Stream Commission for Gila diversion planning and design.
SIGN THIS CITIZEN SUPPORT LETTER TO PROTECT THE GILA AND SAN FRANCISCO RIVERS IN NEW MEXICO BEFORE THIS FRIDAY!
On July 18, a coalition of recreationists, landowners, and conservations groups, including American Whitewater, submitted a formal proposal to the offices of Senator Heinrich and Senator Udall to designate 453.9 miles in the Gila River Watershed under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The proposal includes the mainstem Gila River, the San Francisco River, and select major tributaries to the Gila River, and would protect these prized river segments for future generations. Now, we need everyone to let Senator Heinrich and Senator Udall know that we care about these rivers and their many values - whether you are a New Mexican resident, visitor, or river lover, your voice can make a difference here.
New Mexico's Interstate Stream Commission has taken one more step down the road of killing one of the region's most iconic rivers, approving the costly and environmentally destructive proposed Gila River Diversion.
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