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America's First Wilderness
Aldo Leopold pioneered the concept of protecting land for it's wilderness value. Due to his and other's efforts, the Gila Wilderness was established in 1924. It remains the largest in the Southwest at 558,000 acres. Another 220,000 acres are protected in the adjacent Aldo Leopold Wilderness.
The Gila was once home to prehistoric people known as the Mogollon (muggy-OWN). Evidence of their occupation is found throughout the wilderness in cliff dwellings, pit house remains, petroglyphs and pottery. The largest of these sites is preserved at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, just a few miles from our headquarters.
The wide-ranging Apaches were the sole inhabitants of the Gila for centuries. Their nomadic lifestyle left little evidence, but their clashes with later arrivals is well documented. Miners, mountain men and pioneers all had their day before wilderness protection. Historical sites are common and many natural features bear names stemming from those times.
For more information about the Gila Wilderness please go to The Gila National Forest Website.
Around the campfire at night. Photo credit: Steve Kennedy
Whatever draws you to the natural world: the bugle of an elk, the howl of a wild wolf, the sparkling dazzle of a night sky, the tug of a trout at the end of your line, or the piercing scream of a Black Hawk gliding high in the sky above - the Gila Wilderness has it all.
Guided Camping Trips for Hikers and Horseback Riders
The Gila Wilderness encompasses the headwaters of the Gila River; its
forks, tributaries and surrounding mountains offer some of the most
spectacular scenery and ideal campsites in the American Southwest.
Visitors travel through deep winding canyons, beneath tall pines and
towering rock formations. Lovely pools and staggering vistas await around
every bend. A great diversity of plant and animal life adds to the interest.
Here are wonderful opportunities for hiking, riding, swimming, fishing,
bird watching, photography, and wildlife viewing, as well as exploring
rarely visited wild places, hot springs and archaeological sites.
The Gila Wilderness is one of America's best kept secrets. You won't find crowds of people here. This remote Southwestern location offers unparalleled solitude and spectacular night skies, unblemished by light pollution.