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Gila National Forest

Gila National Forest
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Gila National Forest along New Mexico Route 180
Map showing the location of Gila National Forest
Location New Mexico, USA
Nearest city Silver City, NM
Area 2,710,659 acres (10,969.65 km2)[1]
Established July 21, 1905[2]
Governing body U.S. Forest Service
Map of wilderness areas in the Gila National Forest

The Gila National Forest is a protected national forest in New Mexico in the southwestern part of the United States established in 1905. It covers approximately 2,710,659 acres (1,096,965 ha) of public land, making it the sixth largest National Forest in the continental United States. The Forest also manages that part of the Apache National Forest that is in New Mexico which totals an additional 614,202 acres for a total of 3.3 million acres managed by the Gila National Forest. Part of the forest, the Gila Wilderness, was established in 1924 as the first designated wilderness reservation by the U.S. federal government. Aldo Leopold Wilderness and the Blue Range Wilderness are also found within its borders. (The Blue Range Primitive Area lies within Arizona in the neighboring Apache National Forest.)

The forest lies in southern Catron, northern Grant, western Sierra, and extreme northeastern Hidalgo counties in southwestern New Mexico. Forest headquarters are located in Silver City, New Mexico. There are local ranger district offices in Glenwood, Mimbres, Quemado, Reserve, Silver City, and Truth or Consequences.[3] The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is located with the Catron County section of the forest.

The forest's terrain ranges from rugged mountains and deep canyons to mesas and semi-desert. Due to the extremely rugged terrain, the area is largely unspoiled. There are several hot springs in Gila National Forest, including Middle Fork Hot Springs, Jordan Hot Springs, and Turkey Creek Hot Springs.


The Gila River Forest Reserve was established on March 2, 1899 by the General Land Office and was, renamed the Gila Forest Reserve on July 21, 1905. The following year the forest was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service, and on March 4, 1907 it became a National Forest. Additions included Big Burros National Forest on June 18, 1908, Datil National Forest on December 24, 1931, and part of Crook National Forest on July 1, 1953.[4]

A Gila Forest Ranger with his outfit, 1928


  1. ^ "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ USFS Ranger Districts by State
  4. ^ Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005), National Forests of the United States (pdf),  

External links

  • Official website
  • Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness
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