Clothing considerations – Try to bring everything you’ll need while minimizing weight and bulk by careful selection of what is necessary. Most of our trips take place in warm weather, but nights and mornings can be chilly, especially in spring and fall – or any time at higher elevations. We highly recommend that you bring long pants – even in warm weather – to protect your legs while walking through undergrowth and in the event of sunburn or chilly temperatures. The best option is quick-dry pants with zip-off legs that convert to shorts. These are great on hikes that involve stream crossings because they don’t absorb water, and dry quickly. The zip-off legs make them versatile.
Special footwear considerations – Many of our trips involve frequent stream crossings. When hiking the major corridors of the Gila River, six to eight crossings per mile is not uncommon. This requires special footwear. Changing shoes at crossings is not practical because of their frequency – nor are bare foot crossings practical because of sharp, slippery rocks. Fortunately, there is a great variety of amphibious footwear on the market these days. Some people like hiking sandals, but we recommend amphibious hiking shoes with mesh panels for drainage. These give more support and keep pebbles and sand out better than sandals. Also, heavy wool hiking socks, worn with your water shoes will prevent chaffing and blisters, keep your feet warm in cold water, and increase stability. Please bring a pair along, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. Bring an extra pair of shoes or boots, and socks to keep dry and wear after you are done with river crossings for the day, or for dry-ground hiking.
Planning Your Trip
Welcome to the Wild and Wonderful Gila Wilderness. The outstanding beauty of its rugged canyons, sweeping vistas, and tumbling streams will enchant and astound you.
April through June is generally dry with increasingly warm temperatures as spring progresses. Nights are cool with a normal drop of 30-40*F from daytime highs. Some spring days are breezy with occasional strong winds. June is quite warm at lower elevations.
Late June is normally the start of the rainy season that lasts through mid September. This means mostly afternoon thunderstorms that have a welcome cooling effect on hot summer days. Thunderstorms may be severe, but rarely last more than an hour or two. Flash flooding is most likely at this time.
Mid-September through November, rains diminish as temperatures gradually decrease, with night time freezes beginning the last week of October.
Elevation has a pronounced effect on weather. Expect cooler temperatures and increased precipitation at higher elevations.
Averages for Gila Hot Springs, NM
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
All our trips involve traveling and camping in remote areas, and some or a lot of strenuous activities. You must be in reasonable physical condition for your chosen activity. If you have a known health condition that could impair your mobility or normal function, travel in remote areas is inappropriate. Major medical care and facilities are many hours or even days away. Rescue operations are often slow and very expensive.
If you have special needs, we may be able to
accommodate you on a custom trip.
Please note your trip involves encountering
wild nature in a remote area and while
problems and accidents are rare, you must
be aware, alert, and use good judgement to
avoid injury and stress. Hazards and risks
include, but are not limited to: sunburn, heat
stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, lightning,
falling trees and limbs, flash floods,
insect stings and bites, venomous
snakes, poison ivy, slippery trails, and
We do all we can to have a safe and
comfortable trip. We’re here to have fun!
Each participant has a part to play in safety.
Follow your guide’s instructions and
use good judgement.
All participants are required to sign
a liability waiver.
River crossing with pack mule and guide
Stopping in the shade of an Arizona Sycamore
Big Horn Sheep
Bigtooth Maple Leaf
All our Upper Gila Trips begin at trailheads near Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and you will want lodging in the near-by village of Gila Hot Springs, where our headquarters is located. There are no restaurants in Gila Hot Springs, but all the lodging includes kitchens with cookware and utensils where you may prepare food. There is a small store here, but grocery items are limited, so plan on bringing supplies for before and after the trip.
Wilderness Lodge is perfect for groups, with its large kitchen, dining room, parlor, and hot springs pools in the yard. Breakfast is included, and dinners for groups can sometimes be arranged.
Timing your arrival - If at all possible, try to arrive in the afternoon, the day before the trip. This will allow you to rest up and prepare for an early departure the next day. In most cases, we will meet with you that evening to get acquainted and discuss any last minute details. You may want to arrive even sooner to tour the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
Airports - The driving time from major airports to:
Silver City Gila Hot Springs
El Paso 3 ½ hours 4 hours
Tucson 4 ½ hours 6 hours
Albuquerque 5 hours 6 hours
Phoenix 5 hours6 ½ hours
There is an airport shuttle to Silver City from El Paso. Silver City also has an airport with daily commuter flights to and from Albuquerque.
We can arrange to pick you up in Silver City
for an additional fee (subject to availability).
Driving considerations -
Highways 15 and 35 to Gila Hot Springs,
as well as 152 over Emory Pass, have
sharp curves and steep grades. Allow
extra driving time for these routes. One
and a half hours travel time is the average
from Silver City or Mimbres to Gila Hot
Springs. Try to travel in the day time for
safety and to enjoy the scenery. The
section of Hwy 15 from Pinos Altos to the
junction of Hwy 35 is not suitable for large
trailers or motor homes; you must use
Hwy 35 through Mimbres instead.
Following signs to Gila Cliff Dwellings
National Monument will also lead you
to Gila Hot Springs.
click map for larger view
Booking, Closures and Cancellations
To make each trip more enjoyable, we strictly limit how many people may participate. Call ahead to confirm availability for your trip.
Reservations required a minimum of 14 days prior to trip departure.
Please note our prices include10% taxes and fees.
25% non-refundable deposit is required by cash or check upon reservation. The remainder is due upon arrival. If Gila Backcountry Services must cancel a trip for any reason, we will refund your full deposit.
The Forest Service sometimes implements restrictions and closures that affect our operations. Fire restrictions are the most common, usually late May through June. We may not be able to use camp fires at this time. Certain trails may be closed or impassable due to forest fires or flooding. We will seek alternative routes and/or camps whenever possible. In rare instances, we may be required to cancel a trip due to closures or reasons beyond our control.
About Our Food
On all our trips we provide hearty and delicious meals and snacks prepared with high quality natural food ingredients. We cater to individual tastes as much as possible by conferring with you prior to the trip. Due to the circumstances of camping in remote areas all supplies must be preplanned and some limitations apply. Persons with special dietary needs must inform us well in advance so we can discuss the best way to accommodate your needs.