Booking and preping for your Gila Wilderness trip

Booking, Closures and Cancelations

To make each trip more enjoyable, we strictly limit how many people may participate.  Call ahead to confirm availability for your trip. To book a trip or inquire please call 719-250-9000 or e-mail at [email protected]

Reservations required a minimum of 14 days prior to trip departure.

Please note our prices are subject to 8% sales tax.  

25% Deposit required for reservation

Cancel Up to 30 Days prior to trip: ½ of Deposit refundable
Cancel 30 – 14 Days prior to trip: 0% of Deposit refundable

14 Days or less prior to trip: 100% trip fee+ tax due
Cancel less than 14 days prior to trip: 25% of total refunded

If Gila Backcountry Services cancels your trip you will receive a full refund.

*Shuttle policy is different: 25% non-refundable deposit required to reserve a shuttle. Balance due at time of service.

The Forest Service sometimes implements restrictions and closures that affect our operations.  Fire restrictions are the most common, usually late May through June.  We may not be able to use camp fires at this time. Certain trails may be closed or impassable due to forest fires or flooding. We will seek alternative routes and/or camps whenever possible.  In rare instances, we may be required to cancel a trip due to closures or reasons beyond our control.

Getting Here

Driving Considerations - Highways 15 and 35 to Gila Hot Springs, as well as 152 over Emory Pass, have sharp curves and steep grades. Allow extra driving time for these routes. One and a half hours travel time is the average from Silver City or Mimbres to Gila Hot Springs. Try to travel in the day time for safety and to enjoy the scenery. The section of Hwy 15 from Pinos Altos to the junction of Hwy 35 is not suitable for large trailers or motor homes; you must use Hwy 35 through Mimbres instead. Following signs to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument will also lead you to Gila Hot Springs.

Timing your arrival - If at all possible, try to arrive in the afternoon, the day before the trip. This will allow you to rest up and prepare for an early departure the next day. In most cases, we will meet with you that evening to get acquainted and discuss any last minute details. You may want to arrive even sooner to tour the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  

Silver City Air Service - ( Advanced Air) offers daily commuter flights to and from Albuquerque and Phoenix. We can arrange to pick you up at the Grant County Airport for an additional fee (subject to availability).

Airports - The driving time from major airports to:        Silver City        Gila Hot Springs
                                                                                      El Paso       3 ½ hours             4 hours
                                                                                      Tucson       4 ½ hours             6 hours
                                                                          Albuquerque       5 hours                  6 hours                 
                                                                                    Phoenix       5 hours                  6 ½ hours

What to Bring

Clothing considerations – Try to bring everything you’ll need while minimizing weight and bulk by careful selection of what is necessary. Most of our trips take place in warm weather, but nights and mornings can be chilly, especially in spring and fall – or any time at higher elevations. We highly recommend that you bring long pants – even in warm weather – to protect your legs while walking through undergrowth and in the event of sunburn or chilly temperatures. The best option is quick-dry pants with zip-off legs that convert to shorts. These are great on hikes that involve stream crossings because they don’t absorb water, and dry quickly. The zip-off legs make them versatile.  

Special footwear considerations – many of our trips involve frequent stream crossings. When hiking the major corridors of the Gila River, six to eight crossings per mile is not uncommon. This requires special footwear. Changing shoes at crossings is not practical because of their frequency – nor are bare foot crossings practical because of sharp, slippery rocks. Fortunately, there is a great variety of amphibious footwear on the market these days. Some people like hiking sandals, but we recommend amphibious hiking shoes with mesh panels for drainage. These give more support and keep pebbles and sand out better than sandals. Also, heavy wool hiking socks, worn with your water shoes will prevent chaffing and blisters, keep your feet warm in cold water, and increase stability. Please bring a pair along, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. Bring an extra pair of shoes or boots, and socks to keep dry and wear after you are done with river crossings for the day, or for dry-ground hiking.

If you are joing us for a special activity like rafting or horse-back riding, additional equipment may be required for you to bring, or will be supplied for you. Specialized packing lists will be provided for participants in those activites.
  • Small backpack or daypack
  • Personal water bottle or canteen
  • Flashlight (we recommend headlamps -are the batteries charged?)
  • Washcloth
  • Towel
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, shaving kit if necessary, hairbrush, feminine hygiene products)
  • Any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you regularly use
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • lightweight rain suit
  • pants
  • shorts
  • swimwear
  • sweater or sweatshirt
  • short sleeve shirt
  • long sleeve shirt
  • extra socks
  • appropriate footwear
Optional Equipment
  • Hiking staff/pole
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Field Guides – we keep a variety   of field guides in camp for casual   study
  • Magnifier
  • Fishing equipment  (you must          have a license to fish)
  • Art supplies
  • Reading material


All our Upper Gila Trips begin at trailheads near Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and you will want lodging in the near-by village of Gila Hot Springs, where our headquarters is located. There are no restaurants in Gila Hot Springs, but many of the lodging choices include kitchens with cookware and utensils where you may prepare food.  Doc Campbell's Post is a small store here that has many gift items, gas, friendly service and free Wifi; but grocery items are limited, so plan on bringing supplies for before and after the trip.  

In Gila Hot Springs, camping is available at Gila National Forest Campgrounds: "Forks," "Grapevine," "Upper or Lower Scorpion;" and horses may be corraled at "Woody's" or "TJ" (no reservations or fees, limited facilities). Private campgrounds include at Gila Hot Springs Campground or Wildwood Retreat (both have hot pools, and charge a fee; reservations recommended). Gila Hot Springs Ranch has basic kitchenette apartments for rent (reservations recommended) and an RV park with a horse corral. The Wilderness Lodge has comfortable casual lodging for groups only, with hot spring pools (reservations required).

There are more choices in nearby Lake Roberts, Pinos Altos and Silver City. We are happy to advise you or assist in making reservations for nights before or after your trip, just ask!

About our Food

On all our trips we provide hearty and delicious meals and snacks prepared with high quality natural food ingredients. We cater to individual tastes as much as possible by conferring with you prior to the trip. Due to the circumstances of camping in remote areas all supplies must be preplanned and some limitations apply.

Alcohol may be pre-purchased and packed into camp for you, at your request. We do not sell or serve alcohol.

We're happy to provide for persons with special dietary needs, but you must inform us well in advance so we can discuss the best way to accommodate you.  


April through June is generally dry with increasingly warm temperatures as spring progresses. Nights are cool with a normal drop of 30-40*F from daytime highs. Some spring days are breezy with occasional strong winds. June is quite warm at lower elevations.  

Late June is normally the start of the rainy season that lasts through mid September. This means mostly afternoon thunderstorms that have a welcome cooling effect on hot summer days. Thunderstorms may be severe, but rarely last more than an hour or two. Flash flooding is most likely at this time.  

Mid-September through November, rains diminish as temperatures gradually decrease, with night time freezes beginning the last week of October.  

Elevation has a pronounced effect on weather. Expect cooler temperatures and increased precipitation at higher elevations.  

Averages for Gila Hot Springs, NM:
                                                                                     Jan      Feb     Mar    Apr     May     June     July       Aug      Sept     Oct      Nov      Dec
                                               Precipitation (in.)    .96       .93         .8      .46        .49        .65      2.79      3.02       2.02     1.57         .9        1.3
                                               Low Temp.(F)            18.5    21.3       25       30      36.5        44       53.6      53.1       45.5     34.2     23.9      18.6
                                               High Temp.(F)           54.7    58.7       64     72.1     80.2      88.5      88.6     85.5       81.6     73.5     63.1       54.9

A Brief Precautionary Statement

All our trips involve traveling and camping in remote areas, and some or a lot of strenuous activities. You must be in reasonable physical condition for your chosen activity. If you have a known health condition that could impair your mobility or normal function, travel in remote areas is inappropriate. Major medical care and facilities are many hours or even days away.  Rescue operations are often slow and very expensive.  
If you have special needs, we may be able to accommodate you on a custom trip.

Please note your trip involves encountering wild nature in a remote area and while problems and accidents are rare, you must be aware, alert, and use good judgement to avoid injury and stress. Hazards and risks include, but are not limited to: sunburn, heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, lightning, wildfire, falling trees and limbs, flash floods, insect stings and bites, venomous snakes, poison ivy, slippery trails, and steep precipices.  

We do all we can to have a safe and comfortable trip. We’re here to have fun!  Each participant has a part to play in safety. Follow your guide’s instructions and use good judgement.

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.
Contact Us
Gila Backcountry Services
Zack and Jamie Crockett
Tel.: 719-250-9000
Email: [email protected]
23 Airstrip Rd
Gila Hot Springs, New Mexico, 88049
United States of America
Operating under a special use permit from the USFS
Follow us