This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I
Length 53 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 64.8 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/15/2017 3:52 am

River Description

Information from AZ Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands Study, 1989, AZ State Parks

Class: ?

Rapid Descriptions


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Marc McCord
14 years ago

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=>Southwest Paddler</A> and is used with permission

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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Date Flow Result Factor  
2019-03-03 Medium Fatality Inadequate Equipment Read More



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NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!

Kestrel Kunz

We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form! 

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Gila National Forest Releases New Draft Plan, First in 34 Years (NM)

Kestrel Kunz

For the first time in 34 years, the Gila National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan. On Friday, January 17 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on April 16. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely heavily on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read more for a complete schedule of Public Meetings that are happening this week! 

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New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham Vetoes Gila Diversion Funding

Hattie Johnson

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.

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Speak Up NOW to Protect New Mexico’s Gila and San Francisco Rivers!

Kestrel Kunz


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. 

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Save the Gila River

Nathan Fey

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.


Kestrel Kunz


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1208045 07/15/17 Kestrel Kunz
1208082 07/15/17 Kestrel Kunz
1189911 04/27/05 n/a n/a