This is a very scenic run with moderate rapids, relatively clear water, and excellent camping. Old guidebooks warn of barbed wire in the river, but we encountered none.
A hiking trail follows the river for the entire distance, crossing from bank to bank. The only emergency exit is at Sapillo Creek, where a trail leads many miles to highway 15.
Put in at Grapevine campground on the East Fork, or at the highway bridge near the confluence with the Middle Fork. You might want to visit Gila cliff dwellings national monument before launching. The normal take-out is at a campground just past the mouth of Mogollon Creek. It is possible to take out upstream, where the dirt road that reaches Turkey Creek changes from 2WD to 4WD, but this makes your shuttle worse.
Usually boatable during a brief period of peak snowmelt in normal years, or for a longer period in years with above-average snowpack. Minimum flow around 200, same class at 1200 cfs, measured near takeout on the Gila gauge.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Canoeing the Upper Gila River
Upper Gila Wilderness
Canoeing the Upper Gila River, NM
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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!
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!
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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