Status: Open

This area is Open


The forest is probably best known for its wilderness areas, in particular the Gila Wilderness - the first congressionally designated wilderness in the United States. The magnificent mountain scenery, cool summer temperatures and relatively warm winters permit a wide range of recreational opportunities during all seasons. Summer activities include camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding, while winter activities include some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

There are 1,927 miles of trails on the Gila, a number of interpretive trails, picnic grounds, primitive and developed camping grounds. If you are looking for a more primitive recreation experience, the Gila is the place to be.

Know Before You Go

Cell phone coverage is very limited in and around the forest.

Leave No Trace

Thousands of visitors to the Gila National Forest have a tremendous impact on the land. It is up to us to minimize our impact, to travel softly, leaving no trace of our visit so that future generations can enjoy the woods and mountains we all love.  Learn more about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

You Don't Have to Camp in a Campground

The Gila National Forest is 3.3 million acres. That means "room to roam!" You can camp anywhere on the Gila National Forest. Travel Management was implemented in 2016. Check with the local ranger station for free travel management maps.

How Long Can I Camp in the Gila National Forest and Do I Need a Permit?

Stay limit is 14 days. And, you do not need a permit to camp in any of the three wilderness areas.

Can I Drink the Water?

The answer to this question is yes and no. No matter how clear or pure the water may look, it's a good idea to purify all water. Waterborne parasites, including Giardia lambia, have been found in Gila National Forest. Purification methods include chemical treatment, filtration, and boiling.