There are many exciting places to visit in New Mexico. One of the sites that you must include when you visit this Southwestern state is the Gila National Forest. The area is named after some wildlife that are its namesakes such as the Gila monster and the Gila trout. It was established as a protected national forest in 1905. Its territory covers almost 11,000 square kilometers of land, which makes it the sixth among the biggest national forests in the United States.
The Gila National Forest also takes care of the Gila Wilderness, a reservation founded in 1924, the first-ever designated by the United States government. Other nature reserves such as the Blue Range Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. There are many reasons to visit Gila National Forest. Here are several of them.
Varied Breathtaking Scenery
The Gila National Forest has many terrains to offer than just the forest area. One of the highlights of this nature reserve is the Mogollon Mountain ranges that run through it. Tourists and adventurers can have a great time climbing the magnificent peaks – the highest of which reaches almost 11,000 feet. Some mountains, like the Whitewater Baldy and the Mogollon Baldy, can even be traversed via horseback while enjoying the view atop and below them.
Aside from the mountains, several rivers could be found in Gila National Forest. These are the Mimbres, the Gila, and the San Francisco Rivers. Kayaking and boating are possible in the warm creeks that flow from springs and into the eastern fork of the Gila River. In some areas where the water is cold and deep enough, swimming and jumping to the water are popular activities as well.
Amazing Flora and Fauna
As a nationally protected forest, there are hundreds of plant and animal species to be observed in the Gila National Forest. Diversity is within the national forest’s strong point when it comes to the reserve’s flora as varieties of wildflowers, cottonwoods and ponderosa pine grow together. Aside from the namesake animals found in the forest like the Gila monster, Gila trout, and Gila spotted whiptail, numerous other animal species make their home in the Gila National Forest. These include timber wolves, gray foxes, spotted owls, elks, bobcats, peregrine falcons, and many more.
The History and Location of the Forest
Visitors and tourists looking for a quiet escape from the busy life of the city as well as the distractions of technology and the internet can find a paradise in the Gila National Forest. The forest is several miles away from busy roads and urban areas so that quiet is guaranteed in the atmosphere of the reserve.
Aside from the scenery, the peaceful atmosphere, and flora and fauna, the Gila National Forest can also be considered as a historic place. Many residents have stayed and lived their lives in the area from the Mogollon and Apache Indians up to the miners and ranchers. Cliff drawings and shards from obsidian and pottery may be found in the forest grounds. The only tin mining operation in the United States’ history left its remains within the national forest’s territory as well.
Camping and Stargazing
Another reason to visit Gila National Forest is its dark skies which are perfect for stargazing. Since the area is heavily protected, here is no light pollution to obscure the view of the night sky and the twinkling constellations. Overnight stay is not a problem as there is the 3.5-acre Cosmic Campground for pitching tents.