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.
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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