New Mexico

Hiking Gila National Forest & Beautiful Southwestern New Mexico

Hike through ponderosa pines and hoodoos with stunning mountain and canyon views as you learn about the human history and wildlife of the relatively undiscovered Gila National Forest.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23228RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

In 1922, a U.S. Forest Service supervisor named Aldo Leopold led a movement to protect the land surrounding the Gila River in southwest New Mexico. Two years later, the Gila Wilderness became the first designated wilderness area in the world. Today, the Gila (pronounced “hee-la”) National Forest includes the Gila Wilderness and two other wilderness areas encompassing 3 million acres of public land. Hike through this remote National Forest with naturalists as you learn about Gila’s eight mountain ranges, cliff dwellings and wildlife. Plus, explore the art galleries and museums of Silver City, including a behind-the-scenes visit to Fort Bayard, which served as a frontier army post for the “Buffalo Soldiers,” a tuberculosis sanatorium and a German POW camp.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Physically demanding hiking program. Hiking 5-10 miles daily on trails varying from primitive to well-developed. Elevation changes up to 2260 ft. with steep in/declines on hikes. Elevations ranging from 5800-9000 ft.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Take in views of Whitewater Canyon from the Catwalk, a unique elevated trail built as a hanging walkway in the 1930s and recently rebuilt by the Forest Service.
  • Learn about the Apache presence in the area from local experts, and discover the Mongollon culture of the 13th century at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
  • Hike along portions of the Continental Divide Trail and the Crest Trail of the Black Range leading to the summit of Sawyers Peak with its panoramic views.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Steve Marlatt
Steve has a bachelor’s in Wildlife Management and a master’s in Environmental Education. He first worked in a variety of positions in research, range and recreation for New Mexico Game and Fish, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. He then switched gears to work with another type of wildlife and spent the next 27 years teaching Middle School science! He recently retired so that he could spend more time hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and birding in his long-time home of Southeast Arizona.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Steve Marlatt
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