Gila Wilderness Hike in Base Camps

Middle Fork Base Camp 4-day

Groups of 4-8
$875 per person + tax
2020 Dates: June 8-11
                        June 15-18
                        June 22-25

Middle Fork Base Camp 5-day

*includes 1 night pre-trip lodging, see below

Groups of 6-8
$1,025 per person + tax
2020 Dates: May 17-21
                        May 31 - June 4

The Trip

Hike into a fully outfitted wilderness basecamp! 

Birthplace of famed Apache leader “Geronimo” the Middle Fork of the Gila River is a true Southwestern gem! In the heart of the 558,000 acre Gila Wilderness, towering volcanic cliffs and hoodoos shelter a lush and diverse riparian forest where vines festoon the towering pines and sycamores reflect in shady pools of the river bends.

Our scenic campsite, on the canyon floor, is ideally situated to enjoy the area. The sound of running water and the beauty of the camp makes it a great place to relax and hang-out. In addition, a lovely ½ mile walk beyond the camp is the inviting Jordan Hot Springs with a large pool of warm water. Each day at camp we offer (optional) guided day hikes. This is a fabulous area for birding, botany, geology and archeology.

The hike to and from the camp follows a different route allowing you to see more of this beautiful country.

The camp is fully equipped and supplied so you only need to carry your personal items on the hike!
We limit our group to 8 people (plus guides) to minimize our impact and preserve the solitude.

This is a great opportunity for a special experience in Americas First Wilderness!


Day 1: The 6 mile hike to camp begins at 9AM at TJ Corral Trailhead, near the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, on the West Fork of the Gila River. Accompanied by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides we climb a low rocky ridge through the Pinion/Juniper forest with expansive views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. After 2 miles we begin our descent into the delightful narrow gorge of Little Bear Canyon. Here in the shady depths we follow the shallow stream surrounded by lush vegetation, caves and intriguing rock formations. If we’re lucky we might see a Mexican Spotted Owl.

At mile 4 we reach the mouth of Little Bear and join the much larger Middle Fork. From here we head upstream for the remaining 2 miles to camp. Overshadowed by spectacular cliffs, on a sandy forested trail there are numerous shallow (knee deep) river crossings. You’ll want water shoes for this stretch and maybe hiking poles or a staff to steady yourself on slippery rocks.

The camp is set up in advance so you can settle right in. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing or exploring as you wish. A delicious dinner will be served by your guides and in the evening enjoy the fabulous night sky or a cozy campfire. Fall asleep to the sound of the running river.

Day 2-3: Enjoy the ambiance of our riverside camp, spending the day as you wish. We will offer optional guided hikes or explore on your own. Our knowledgeable guides can help orient you and we are flexible to accommodate the wishes of the group. There are pools in the river for wading/swimming, abundant bird life and Jordan Hot Spring is only a 15 minute walk. Breakfast and dinner will be prepared by guides and make your own lunch fixings are laid out after breakfast to take along for the day, snacks are always available at camp. 

Day 4: This morning you’ll pack your personal items for the return hike. After a good breakfast and lunch prep we’ll hit the trail. The first leg will be returning downstream to the mouth of Little Bear Canyon; a new view of this spectacular reach.

Instead of returning up Little Bear we will continue downstream on the Middle Fork for 6 miles. 

This stretch offers scenic vistas, amazing examples of southwestern trees and a steaming hot spring issuing from the river bank. The canyon straightens out just a bit and the river crossings are less frequent. Archeological sites abound, including Mogollon, Apache and alcoves stained with smoke from pre-historic campfires. Some sites require an off-trail hike and are optional.

The hike concludes at the Middle Fork Trailhead where we have a short 1 mile shuttle back to where we parked. This concludes our service unless additional transportation is arranged.

More about this trip

All meals and snacks are provided starting with Dinner at the camp on Day 1 thru Lunch on day 4, including coffee, tea and cocoa, Please pack a lunch for the hike to camp on Day 1. Alcoholic beverages can be brought to camp in advance with other supplies upon request (separate fee). Camp facilities and services include a well equipped kitchen where guides prepare hearty home-style meals from fresh ingredients. Packable lunches are provided for day hikes away from camp. Special dietary needs can be accommodated by advance interview. Guides perform all camp chores. We also provide:

                        Filtered Water
                        Camp Chairs
                        Sleeping Tents (set up in advance)
                        Sleeping Mats (air mattress)
                        A sturdy, well-maintained toilet tent
                        First Aid Kits

You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, pillow , water bottles and backpack. We can provide these for an additional fee. Please see the “Planning your trip” page for more information about your packing list, transportation and lodging.

All participants are required to sign a liability waiver. You can review it here, there will be a printed copy for you to sign at the trailhead.

Your group of 4-8 can book this as a private trip.

5 day Middle Fork Base Camp

This is the same trip described above with the addition of pre-trip lodging at the Wilderness Lodge & Hot Springs, located only 4 miles from the departure trailhead. This avoids a long drive on the first day of the trip. 

Arrive the day before the trip begins, get acquainted with your guides and group, relax in the natural hotsprings pools and organize your gear. Dinner is included as well as breakfast in the morning and a packed lunch for the hike. If conditions permit, an optional tour of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument will be offered in the morning before the hike to camp commences.
Contact Us
Gila Backcountry Services
Zack and Jamie Crockett
Tel.: 719-250-9000
Email: [email protected].com
23 Airstrip Rd
Gila Hot Springs, New Mexico, 88049
United States of America
Operating under a special use permit from the USFS
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