Voices of the Wind — life in a Gila Wilderness lookout tower

Black Mountain Lookout Tower Photo by Dru Claridge This is the most beautiful place on earth," I said to my cat our first evening at Black Mountain tower together. I had just ridden horseback up here; Kipper had travelled with me, safe in her pet taxi. Now she stood on her hind legs to look out the window. She trembled, whether at her distance off the ground or at the wilderness all around us, I couldn’t say. From the tower […] Read more »

Leopold Legacies — how he came to preserve the Gila Wilderness

Aldo Leopold It is autumn 1919, in a wild and scenic area of New Mexico’s Gila Forest. A young assistant district forester named Aldo Leopold is on horseback, trying to imagine what his surroundings will be like if a proposed road system goes through, a "civilizing" influence becoming all too familiar in other forests of the Southwest. Not here, he resolves. Something must be done to save it so future generations will be able to enjoy the purity and beauty […] Read more »

Hot Springs in the Gila National Forest

Jordan Hot Springs From tall ponderosa to golden desert to high mountain peaks, the Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico offers a veritable smorgasbord of natural wonders.  One of the area’s strongest attractions seems unlikely in the Gila’s arid climate:  hot water direct from the earth.  Hot springs dot the area, offering soaking opportunities for visitors of every inclination.  Although some springs are commercially developed, many within the bounds of the National Forest offer opportunities for wilderness bathing. Hot […] Read more »

Escape to the Gila Wilderness

West Fork of the Gila River Photo by the Author. Pull the plug. Leave conveniences behind. Take the minimum. It’s time to escape the noise and demands of daily life and rediscover mountains, water, trees, animals and the art of recharging. The road heads north, from the pass of El Paso to the cross of Las Cruces and farther to the spot where you turn west and leave the Rio Grande’s fertile sides. As you travel towards Hillsboro, the road […] Read more »

Dreamfish in the Upper Gila River

Smallmouth Bass - the author’s dreamfish Photo by M.H. Salmon. Within the limits of his size, the Smallmouth Bass is the perfect game fish, and just the fish to bring a sleepy-eyed boy to life. The Smallmouth Bass may well be our finest freshwater gamefish; I think he is. Clearly, he is superior to his bass cousins. The White Bass is a small, staid, tasteless fish compared to the Smallmouth, a school fish given to running, en masse, in man-made […] Read more »

Listen to the Silent Roar of history

Gila Cliff Dwellings Photo by Carla DeMarco Cliff dwellings. What an unremarkable phrase for such a remarkable feat. An entire village carved out of solid rock. Carved not with the bulldozers and explosives that we so casually use today to gouge mortal wounds into Mother Earth, but with primitive tools and back-breaking labor. Carved not to pillage or destroy but to settle into Earth’s protective bosom as children settle into their mothers’ laps. New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians built these great […] Read more »

Gila River and Smallmouth Bass

You sit around enough campfires or barrooms with enough fisherman and you realize that every one of us is pleased to argue for our favorite fish, favorite fishing spot, and favorite method of pursuing fish. Like the endless debates over guns, game animals, and calibers, these are arguments that won’t go away, and that outdoor writers will forever milk for copy. I’m no different, except perhaps that I may be more willing than most to admit that my angling references […] Read more »

A grand hike in the Gila

I took a trail the other day that wound its way far above the Gila River. After a mile or so, I left the trail and dropped off the ridge into a deep bowl covered with tall, old ponderosa pines. One pine, at the center, towered high above its neighbors like a matriarch. As I walked beyond the huge tree, I spied the bare skeleton of a dead elk, its backbone and remaining rib cage stark against the brown pine […] Read more »

A few good Gila Wilderness hikes

McKnight Canyon in the Gila Wilderness. Photo by Bill Winkley. When I made the decision to move to Silver City in early 1994, I had many good reasons. I had returned from almost eight years of living in the cultural fascination and beauty of Papua, New Guinea and Fiji and wanted to settle back in my home country in a location that offered both cultural interest and geographical beauty. After looking at several parts of the Western United States, including […] Read more »

The LC Ranch — Cattle Baron of the Gila

Gila River Valley. Photo by Carla DeMarco   By It has been written that behind every great personal fortune lies a crime, and there is probably no better illustration of that adage than the cattle empires of the Old West. New Mexico’s territorial days offer a number of such illustrations, but perhaps none better than the story of the Lyons and Campbell Ranch and Cattle Company of the Gila River country and beyond. Angus Campbell, a Scotsman, came to New […] Read more »