Right now, and I assume at least for another month, the Gila River in NM should be raftable. I am wondering if anyone here has ever done this river. Specifically looking for logistic info. Any help appriciated.
Here is a River Guide for the Gila http://files.meetup.com/1274282/Gila%20River%20-%20Sections%20A-E%2C%20New%20Mexico%20Whitewater.pdf
Another good site is http://www.paddleon.net/default.aspx. SouthwestPaddler.com also has some decent information on it. Let me know if you are going, I have been trying to find partners for the Wilderness Section without any luck. Also willing to do the San Francisco River in the same area.
Update! A friend and I did this trip recently:
When I checked the gauge for the Gila Wilderness section the day before we got on the river (April 3rd) it was at 390 cfs. At this level we experienced no rapids above class II. There was a lot of maneuvering because of the low water level, but if you messed up and flipped you could basically just stand up in most sections or have a very casual swim to shore. I can definitely see how there would be some class III rapids and strainer problems at higher levels. I would not recommend bringing a raft with the river at the level we floated it on. The packrafts were fine though. We scraped the bottom a few times and a couple times had to get out of the boat, but overall very enjoyable. It was a beautiful float with great views and I would highly recommend it!
1st day: Put in at around 10:30 am and floated until about 5:30. Took a few breaks in between and never pushed ourselves. Went about 17 miles.
2nd day: Put in around 11, multiple breaks. Stopped around 5. Went about 12 miles. Another easy day.
3rd day: Put in around 10:30 again, no breaks, went about 6 miles and took out a little past where Turkey Creek flows into the Gila at 12:30. There is a trail that crosses the river there, but it may be hard to spot if you are not looking out for it. We had lunch, packed everything up and hiked up Turkey Creek to the hot springs and camped the night there. It’s only a few miles or so up the creek to get to the springs which are awesome. On the hike up the creek you’ll get to a pool of water with a little waterfall. There’s a big boulder on the left hand side with a hole. You’ll have to take your backpack off and drag it/push it while you crawl through. A little farther past that are the hot springs. There are multiple small pools, just search around the sides of the creek.
4th day: We did not get started until about 11 am. We decided we should hike up turkey creek until it met up with the trail, but that turned out to be too difficult. It was very slow going up the creek and I had to take my backpack off a few times and hand it up to my friend to climb up a few of the boulders. So we decided to cut up the hill and hoped we’d hit the trail. At first it was steep bush whacking and then it turned into a scree field. We did eventually hit the trail after gaining about 500 feet. Trail was nice for a couple miles until we got back to the creek. Then it started to be very overgrown and slow going. Our arms were very scratched up from pushing through so many branches. We lost the trail a couple times, but it’s not a big deal since you’re following a creek the whole time. Eventually we hit a sign by some switchbacks saying Miller Spring was 2.5 miles away. I think the trail between this point and Miller spring is actually a little bit off on caltopo. But it is easy to follow. Just be aware if you are using a GPS it might not line up. Do not bother filling up much water from the creek since there is a perennial water source at Miller Spring. There is a cabin there, but it’s locked because of “misuse.” So we camped outside by the fire pit. This was a hard day for us even though it was only 12 miles. We didn’t finish until about 7:45 pm and were pretty sore.
5th day: left at about 10:30. Followed the trail going north (there is no sign for this trail as there are for the others). There is another perennial water source before your next intersection. There is a sign at that intersection and you’ll want to go the direction of “little creek.” You’ll cross a few creeks on your way down to the parking lot, so you don’t need to fill your water up too much. The trails were very easy this day, but we were pretty tired from the previous day. When we finally got down to the parking lot at about 5 pm or so, we went to the bridge, inflated our rafts, and floated back down to where we parked our car. This section of the west fork was VERY low. Barely boatable.
We had our car parked at the campground by the bridge and just left a note saying how long we’d be gone for on the dash. No price for parking or camping there. Was very convenient! If I was to change anything, I would have started earlier the 4th day or would have made it 3 days walking back instead of 2 to make it a more pleasant trip. Hope this helps! I thought I’d add a detailed account since I couldn’t find many myself online.
Hi everyone, first post but I’ve got a few trip reports to share.
I did almost the exact same Gila Wilderness loop as fishm and friend this spring. I put on about a week or so before they did (around March 19) at a flow of 500 cfs. Only route change was that I followed Turkey creek all the way up, and descended Little Creek. About half way down Little Creek I headed north to the west fork of the Gila via EE Canyon. That gave me a 7 ish mile float past the cliff dwellings and visitor center on the last day as I floated back to my truck parked at the forks (grapevine cg).
I posted a trip report with pictures/ hydrograph on BPL at the time.
Great trip, but this year was one of the longest runoff seasons on the Gila I’ve seen in a decade. Normally the floatable season is much shorter. The Silver Creek Divide snotel site showed snowpack (feeding the west fork) declined from 9" to 0" while I was on the river. West fork was floatable for me but there’s quite a bit of wood in river around and just above the Cliff Dwellings natl. mon.
Rafting the Gila River through the Wilderness
the first designated wilderness in the USA
A comprehensive guide with mile by mile information. 26 pages with 30 color photos pointing out the hot springs, archaeology, Rapids, shuttle, putIn/out and lots of history and more
Usgs gauge stations. the maps are usgs dept interior 1935 Over 25 years of notes/lots of hints. printed on waterproof, heat & oil & tear resistant paper
Contact; bill luther
email@example.com. 915 581-2042 915-255-6251
I have the aforementioned guide.
Lots of information and very informative.
However, I have not yet floated that reach of the Gila to verify it’s accuracy.
Our paddle and hike loop in the Gila just before our Covid-19 “Stay at home” order and the river level drop.
Short vid, map link, etc here: https://southwestbackcountry.blogspot.com/2020/03/gila-packrafting-loop.html.