The Gila National Forest is probably best known for its wilderness areas, in particular the Gila Wilderness. The Gila Wilderness is 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.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Current Recreation Conditions
|Area Name||Status||Area Conditions|
|Aeroplane Mesa Campground||Open|
|Aldo Leopold Vista Picnic Area||Open|
|Aldo Leopold Wilderness||Open|
|Apache Creek Campground||Open|
|Armijo Springs Campground||Open|
|Ben Lilly Campground||Open|
|Black Canyon Campground - Lower||Open||Potential flooding damage following Black fire and 2023 monsoon season.
|Black Canyon Campground - Upper||Open||Potential flooding damage following Black Fire and 2023 monsoon season.|
|Catwalk #207 Trailhead||Open||NM Highway 174, the Catwalk Access Road is under construction beginning the week of November 13, 2023 through July 2024. Traffic is reduced to one lane with up to 30-minute delays possible.|
|Catwalk National Recreation #207 Trail||Open||NM Highway 174, the Catwalk Access Road is under construction beginning the week of November 13, 2023 through July 2024. Traffic is reduced to one lane with up to 30-minute delays possible.|
|Catwalk Recreation Area||Open||High stream flows are common at the last low water crossing before the Catwalk parking lot. Use caution if you decide to cross and remember that flows may increase from snowmelt in the afternoon, or under the influence of monsoon rains. NM Highway 174 (Catwalk Recreation Area access road) will be reduced to one lane of traffic, with up to 30-minute delays possible from November 17, 2023 through July 2024. Road reconstruction activities will provide a roadway that is more resilient to flooding and more reliable for visitors. Review the press release for more information.|
|Cherry Creek Campground||Open|
|Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary||Open|
|Dipping Vat Campground||Open||Water will be turned off on 11/1/2022 for the winter.|
|Dragonfly Loop Trail - #720||Open|
|El Caso I-IV Campground||Open|
|El Caso V Campground||Open|
|Gallinas Campground - Upper||Open|
|Gallinas Canyon Trail #129||Open||Beautiful creek walk from Hwy 152 at Railroad Canyon Campground to Holden Prong Saddle.|
|Gila Wilderness||Open||A small portion of the Gila Wilderness is closed. Visit Alerts and Notices for more information.|
|Gold Dust Trail||Open|
|Gomez Peak Large Group Area||Open|
|Grapevine Campground||Open||More than half of the campground was under water in August 2022. Some vegetation is returning in areas that were scoured or had material deposted. Potential for flooding and further damage continues following the Black Fire, especially during monsoon season.|
|Gwynn Tank Campground||Open|
|Head of the Ditch Campground||Open|
|Iron Creek Campground||Open||Closed due to the Black Fire Emergency Closure Order|
|Juniper Campground||Closed||Water will be turned off October 1 for the season.|
|Lake Roberts Picnic Area||Open|
|Little Walnut East Group Area||Open|
|Little Walnut Individual Picnic Area||Open||First-come/first serve only.|
|Little Walnut-Gomez Peak Day Use Area||Open||Reservations are available on Recreation.gov.|
|Middle Fork #157 Trailhead||Open|
|Mogollon Box Day Use Area||Open|
|Piñon Campground||Closed||Water will be turned off October 1 for the season.|
|Pueblo Park Campground||Open|
|Quemado Lake Recreation Area||Open|
|Railroad Canyon Campground||Open|
|Rocky Canyon Campground||Open||Potential flooding following Black Fire and 2023 monsoon season.|
|Upper End Campground||Open|
|Valle Tio Vinces Campground||Open|
|Whitewater Picnic Area||Open||NM Highway 174, the Catwalk Access Road is under construction beginning the week of November 13, 2023 through July 2024. Traffic is reduced to one lane with up to 30-minute delays possible.|
|Willow Creek Campground||Open|
|Wolf Hollow Campground||Open|
The Catwalk's history began with the discovery of gold and silver in the rugged Mogollon Mountains above Whitewater Canyon. In 1893, the small town of Graham (also known as Whitewater) grew around a mill, located on the west hillside near the present day location of the parking area. The mill only lasted about 10 years. In the mid-1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt the Catwalk. The Catwalk bridge system washed away during a huge flooding event after the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Fire. The bridge system was rebuilt and is now open for approximately .5 miles from the parking lot. This is a very accessible area and easily hiked by all ages. After the bridge system, the trail system has been cleared for another .5 - .75 miles. It goes across a low-water crossing, across the fiberglass bridge and through the arch. Once you go up the stairs to a small viewing area the trail can become steep. Past the "swimming hole" the trail becomes unnavigable. A series of trail reconstruction projects are scheduled to occur in summer and fall 2023 to restore trail access toward Hummingbird Saddle.
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a National Park Service managed area that is surrounded by the Gila National Forest. The surrounding area includes a number of campsites, an interpretive trail and an educational/visitors center. Please visit their website for information regarding the Cliff Dwellings, possible closures, and other area information.
Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary (CCIDSS) is the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary located on National Forest System lands and also in North America. It is also one of only 14 certified IDA Sanctuaries in the world. International Dark Sky Sanctuaries are lands possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights. For more information on dark skies, light pollution, or the International Dark Sky Association.
The CCIDSS offers a 360-degree, unobstructed view of the night sky for exceptional stargazing opportunities, and often hosts “star parties” in cooperation with the partner group “Friends of the Cosmic Campground.” This site is situated where there nearest significant source of artificial light is more than 40 miles away, and across the state line in Arizona.
Night vision is necessary to enjoy the night sky. If you look at white light from either your flashlight or your cell phone you will not be able to enjoy the wonders of the natural night sky for 20-30 minutes. In order to respect your fellow star gazers the Forest Service recommends:
- No parking on the observation/telescope pads
- No camp fires on observation pads
- Use a red filter over your flashlight lens
- Try to arrive before dark so that your headlights won’t distort your night vision
- Quiet times (no generator use) between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
CCIDSS is a primitive campground with minimal site amenities including an information kiosk, a pit toilet, and four concrete telescope/observation pads. Currently, there is very minimal shade available however, future planning developments intend to erect a shade pavilion as well as improve individual campsite amenities as funding comes available.