Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ant Fall on the San Juan River Amazes Anglers

Glenn F. May shows off a nice San Juan River Rainbow Trout caught during an ant fall on July 21, 2008. Photo courtesy of a passing angler.

They landed on the water with a plop and then began to wiggle and squirm.

Big, black, flying ants and plenty of them.

It didn’t take long for the trout to rise from the bottom and start gulping them down.

We had lucked into the rare and legendary ant fall on the trophy class waters of the San Juan River below Navajo Dam in the northwestern corner of New Mexico.


Our luck started with a stop in at Abe’s Motel and Fly shop where the guy behind the counter noted the previous evening’s heavy rain and suggested conditions were ripe for such an event.

Then Ron of Resolution Guide Service wandered in looking for Chernobyl Ants and offered us suggestions on where and how to fish them, in the fast water with a splash, he said.

This was the same guy who went out of his way pick me up one day while I was trying to thumb a ride from the “take-out” at the gravel pit back up to the “put-in” at Texas Hole.

My brother-in-law was up there waiting for me with his drift boat. I had driven the truck down under the mistaken assumption that it would be easy to thumb a ride back up.

Ron picked me up and told me otherwise.

Nice guy, most fishermen are, but it seems there’s plenty of others in this neck of the woods who couldn’t be bothered.

So we grabbed a few of the Chernobyls along with a number of smaller ant patterns featuring florescent green foam indicators on top.

Armed with these big, heavy flies we set out for our old haunting grounds at Baetis Bend.

I was fishing with my oldest, best fishing buddy and also a fellow former, newspaper reporter, Glenn Foster May, who just returned from a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in Africa.

His return to the San Juan was to be the opening act in several weeks of fishing New Mexico and Colorado to celebrate his homecoming.

We waded into the river through the a foggy mist and set up shop by the island where May got right into them while fishing deep with the gray, RS2, Baetis emerger for a dropper.


My time came when the ants began to fall since I prefer dry flies off the top.

I took to the top water action with a passion, casting to each rising fish and then hooking into them with satisfaction.

I always looked at fishing nymphs as a way to simply pass the time till the risers appeared, especially here on the San Juan.

These fish fought hard, ran deep and leaped magnificently.

They were beautifully colored Rainbow Trout with the occasional Brown Trout mixed in, all well within the 16 to 19-inch range and one 20-incher to May’s credit.

I couldn’t help but wonder what the "doom and gloomers" who constantly whine about the San Juan’s decline would have to say on a day like today.

Probably something like it used to be even better, young fella!

But on this day the river was in great condition due to an unusually wet winter that forced the Bureau of Reclamation to release reservoir water at a much higher rate and for much longer than usual.

The high flows scoured out silt and sediment which improves insect production and gave the river’s dense population of trout a break from near constant fishing pressure found at lower flows.

Now we were enjoying the benefit as we caught and released one amazing fish after another.

But it was up in the seam of the deep run just below the lower flats that I hooked into the fish of the trip, a monster that refused to come out of the deep water and seemed to have fought forever.

I finally landed her by the bank and hurried to take some photos before returning her to the water.


Then I realized she wasn’t recovering well once she was back in the water.

I held her tail and slipped a hand under her belly and began to gently sway her back and forth to get some water flowing over her gills.

She seemed to recover so I let her go and watched as she slowly moved off to a nearby underwater outcrop where she stopped and rested.

I watched as she sat motionless, her mouth opening and closing and then she began to roll over onto her side.

I waded out and reached in to right her and held her again, swaying her back and forth in the water in an effort to keep her alive.

I felt ashamed for subjecting her to the added strain of suffocating on the bank while she waited for me to take her photograph.

I hoped and prayed she would recover and then suddenly she just seemed to snap awake and struggled to escape my grip.

I let her go and she swam off into the deeper water where she returned to the surface several times to seemingly take a breath of air.

Then she disappeared back into the depths.


We figured that the fish must have been 24 or 25 inches long when comparing her to the 22-inch, overall length of my net.

The rain of ants ended soon that overcast morning but I found that the trout up in the lower flats were still keying in on the surface so I switched to a stimulator and earned plenty more strikes.

We had stumbled into a rare day that normally only those who work on the river have the chance experience.

The following morning we decided to fish in the quiet, lower stretch of the river where San Juan Fisheries Biologist, Marc Wethington, of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish had installed strategically placed boulders to improve the habitat for trout.


We found plenty of willing fish here to take our flies but were more impressed with the depth of some of the pools that had been carved out by the high water behind the installed boulders.

The stream bottom here also featured a clean gravel bed, free of the heavy layer of silt and sand that used to be found here before the habitat work had been done.

Apparently the boulders did their job in keeping the water churned up so sediment remained suspended in the water to be carried downstream.

Add some more seed stock here and this area will be great place to get away from the crowds found upstream.

This too was another subject the "doom and gloomers" of the San Juan who claimed this project was just a waste of time and money.

They point fingers at the oil and gas industry and the bureau of reclamation and claim they're ruining the river.

But do they offer anything in the way of concrete solutions to the problem of low water flows and silt like this project did?


I just wonder sometimes what it is these folks want anyhow?

It seems that they’ve forgotten that the dam was created to store and deliver water and the great fishing is simply a byproduct of that much larger mission.

They should try spending a day on some of New Mexico's real streams where sucessful fishing can be tough work and reeling in a single, 14-inch Brown is a real prize.

I mean it’s great to get into the number and size of the fish found below Navajo Dam but lets get real, the San Juan fishery is nothing more than an artificially created theme park that only exists because of the dam’s greater mission.

Some of these guys might want to tone down the rhetoric and instead come up with some real, workable solutions to the issues before they completely alienate those whose support they'll really need to "save the river."

Photo courtesy of Glenn F. May.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Santa Cruz Lake Delivers

It’s a fine way to wile away a summer afternoon, sitting under the cool shade of a towering cottonwood, watching the clouds build up and waiting for a fish to bite.

And Santa Cruz Lake in the hills overlooking Española delivers in a big way.

Located just 35 miles north of Santa Fe, this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) operated recreation area provides camping and picnic shelters, a boat dock and floating fishing pier and some of the cleanest restrooms in the business.

“We’re well known for that,” Karen Martinez says with pride after she checks a visitor’s permit at the lake’s office one recent day.

In years past the lake might have been better known for its rowdy residents, auto break-ins, random thefts and trashed-out atmosphere.

But conditions have improved at the lake with regular patrols and oversight from hardworking locals like Martinez, 49, of Rio Chiquito.

“Because someone’s here all the time now, things have quieted down,” she says with guarded optimism. “We try different things to keep it that way.”

Martinez, a seasonal BLM worker, says local law enforcement officers also make it a habit to swing through the recreation area on a routine basis, especially on the weekends and evenings, to keep a lid on things.

Nonetheless, she cautions those who visit the remote lake located below the historic Spanish settlement of Cundiyo.

“I wouldn’t leave a generator sitting out while you go fishing all day,” she said. “It’s just common sense. Secure your valuables.”

And while the lake has always been a favorite spot for Española Valley locals, the high price of gas these days has made it even more popular.

“We’ve got people from Española bringing up their motor homes,” she says with a laugh.

That’s quite a feat considering the steep, narrow, twisty road that leads down to the lake’s recreation area and the limited number of campsites that can accommodate such vehicles.

The lake is well known among anglers for another reason.


It is the home of the state record rainbow trout held by Peter Romero of Santa Fe who in March 1999 while fishing with six-pound test line and a homemade jig is said to have hooked and landed a 31-pound, 33½-inch rainbow trout.

A battered picture of Romero holding the fish graces the bulletin board inside the BLM’s office at the lake.

The lake is popular with boaters and allows their use at trolling speed only. The facilities at the lake include a good ramp and a spacious parking lot.

Those who fish from the bank can find plenty of trails leading around the lake to prime fishing spots including a steep, tortuous trail from the overlook campground down to the north end of the lake where Santa Cruz creek enters.

The overlook campground features several campsites situated along the rim of a mesa high above the lake. It is a remote campground occasionally visited by locals and not as well patrolled as the lakeside recreation area.

The overlook campground offers greats views of the lake and Española Valley below and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the rear.


Martinez said what with the price of gas being what it is these days there seems to be more out-of-towners stopping by at the lake.

“We’re getting a lots of new folks asking for information,” she says.

Martinez notes that a season’s pass for admission to the lake and other BLM recreation areas in northern New Mexico like the Rio Grande at Pilar and at the Wild Rivers at Cerro is a bargain for only $20 a year.

The season pass allows unlimited day use at these areas while a one-day pass costs $5.

Martinez said visitors should know swimming isn’t allowed at the lake but waist deep wading is tolerated. Well-behaved and leashed dogs are welcome and alcohol consumption is not prohibited.


If You Go:

From Santa Fe take 84/285 north to the Nambe turnoff just north of Pojoaque. Take State Road 503 up through the village of Cundiyo and follow the sign down to Santa Cruz Lake. On the way, just past the turnoff to Chimayo, you will see the entrance to the Santa Cruz overlook; pull in here for a great view of the lake and surrounding valley. About 35 miles one-way. Last chance for gas and groceries in Pojoaque.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Failed to Draw Out? Hunters Have Options


So what if you failed to draw out for a hunt this year? Do you have a back-up plan?

Here’s some options that might improve your odds of staying in the hunt, even if you don’t luck out in the lottery (for this year's lottery results and ways to improve your odds see second story below).

First and foremost, check the state Department of Game and Fish’s website regularly at www.wildlife.state.nm.us. and read the Big Game rules and information manual carefully.

Hunters have until April 9 to apply for most big game public land hunts including elk pronghorn antelope, ibex, javelina and bighorn sheep with results available June 18, 2008.

If you fail to draw out, stay alert, the department frequently offers late season hunts to fill licenses that weren’t taken or to meet game management goals.

For instance, the Valles Caldera hosted special hunts for cow elk during the first two weekends of December 2007 for 37 lucky hunters at the cost of a $59 license and a $300 access fee.

Compare that with an outfitted and guided hunt on the Valles Caldera that can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 during the prime hunting season.

The Caldera boasts a herd of about 3,000 elk, spectacular country and restricted access that guarantees a quality hunting experience. They also offer their own lottery with results coming out before the state’s so hunters can participate in both. Check their website at www.vallescaldera.gov for more info.

Needless to say the late season special hunts were snapped up by online applicants within 30 minutes of going on sale, said Dan Williams, spokesman for the department.

“Anyone who gets to hunt there should feel very privileged,” he said.

But the hunt to meet management goals was marred by inclement weather that restricted hunter mobility, said Dennis Trujillo, Valles Caldera Preserve manager.

“It was challenging to say the least,” Trujillo said of the first year effort at managing such a hunt. Thirty-seven hunters harvested 22 animals, he said.

Those hunters got to go hunting because they were quick to jump on an opportunity that arose. The department issued a total of 329 licenses, 100 for muzzleloaders and 229 for any legal sporting arm during that particular special hunt.


Hunters who fail to draw out can also turn to the private market for hunting opportunities.

Every year thousands of private landowners in New Mexico receive hunting authorizations from the Department of Game and Fish that they can use, sell or barter away.

The programs are called A and E-Plus and they issue landowners hunting permits in exchange for their providing habitat to wildlife. The permits can then be redeemed for a hunting license.

Hunters can negotiate with a landowner involved in the program to obtain an authorization and then use it to buy a license from the department.

For instance, during the 2006/2007 hunting season landowners received about 17,000 authorizations under the E-Plus program, which resulted in about 9,700 licenses being issued, Williams said.

The state also issued 31,878 elk tags in the public drawing that season with 78 percent going to New Mexico residents, he added.

Hunters on public land had a success rate of about 30 percent compared with 59 percent on private land that season, Williams said.

The state’s elk herd varies anywhere between 70,000 to 90,000 elk with about 30 to 35 percent of those being bulls, he said.

The A-Plus antelope program in 2006/2007 resulted in 4,326 authorizations being issued and 3,266 licenses being sold while the public drawing resulted in 1,524 licenses being issued, Williams said.

Many of these authorizations end up being sold to guides and outfitters who in turn offer them to out-of-state hunters who pay a premium for hunting here, said Bob Gerding of Bob Gerding’s Outdoor Adventures.

But some landowners hang on to their permits and then sell them on the open market if they don’t put them to use.


Gerding suggest hunters make a habit of checking newspaper classified ads, inquiring at sporting good stores and gun shops and checking in with area Game and Fish offices for leads, Gerding said.

“Many times the offices know of someone who has them available,” he said.
Hunters can also find information about the E and A-Plus programs -- including lists of participating landowners -- online at the department’s website.

Gerding recommends a hunter pick a hunting unit that he or she may be familiar with and start their search from there.

Hunters playing the open market have to take into consideration a number of variables including whether the hunt is on a private ranch or unit wide, Gerding said.

Hunters should keep in mind that at the time of the hunt, animals may no longer frequent the private ranch for which the authorization was issued, thus a unit-wide authorization would be preferable.

However, on a large private ranch, that may not be an issue.

Another issue is hunters may want to make arrangements with a landowner before the public draw concludes in an effort to lock in a hunt.

But waiting until late in the season can sometimes result in a better deal, he said.
These and other variables are the reason why outfits such as Gerding’s are in business, to help hunters negotiate the complexities of hunting in New Mexico.

The department’s website also features lists of guides and outfitters for hunters to consult and Gerding said he is always willing to help someone in the hunt for a license.

Hunters who fail to draw out can also try to find a private landowner within a specified hunting unit where deer hunts are allowed - consult the proclamation for more information. A hunter with written permission to hunt deer on private land may then purchase an over-the-counter license.

Unlike the A and E-Plus programs, there is no departmental listing of private landowners who offer hunting on their land.

And if all else fails, hunters who draw out for a big game hunt can look into bear, cougar, turkey and other game that can be hunted with an over-the-counter license.

“If you’re like me, where getting out there is the most important thing,” said Williams, “then any hunt’s a great hunt.”


How to Improve Your Odds and 2008 Public Hunting Draw Results

Hunters who submit multiple applications for different big game hunts stand the best chance of drawing a license, according to a recent state Department of Game and Fish study.

The study of drawing odds based on the 2003 through 2006 hunting season showed hunters who submitted an application for elk, deer, antelope and oryx stood a 77-percent chance of drawing a license for at least one of those hunts during the study period, said Dan Williams, department spokesman.

Submitting an application for just one hunt such as antelope or oryx resulted in less than a 10-percent chance of drawing a license in any one year, Williams said.

A single application for deer stood a 16-percent chance of drawing out at least once during the study period while the chances for elk were much better, coming in at 39-percent, Williams said.

Hunters can improve their luck of the draw next year by studying the department’s odds report and tips posted in the hunting section of the department’s website at www.wildlife.state.nm.us

This year hunters submitted 172,536 applications which resulted in 56,796 hunting licenses being awarded on June 18, Williams said. About a 33-percent success rate overall.

Williams released the following statistics related to the drawing for big game hunting licenses for the 2008/2009 season:

The department received 68,963 applications for 20,253 available elk licenses and 20,199 were awarded. State residents received 16,381 of those elk licenses while non-residents obtained 3,817.

Hunters submitted 66,717 applications for 34,814 available deer licenses and 32,717 were awarded. Non-residents picked up 5,382 of the deer licenses while state residents received 27,331.

Antelope drew 18,535 applications for 1,689 available licenses and 1,685 were awarded with 1,340 going to state residents and 342 to out-of-state hunters.


Bighorn sheep brought in 9,740 applications for 16 available licenses with 11 going to non-residents and 5 to New Mexicans.

Bighorn sheep, oryx and ibex licenses do not fall under the department’s quota system which earmarks 78-percent of public draw, hunting licenses to state residents, Williams noted. However, it should be noted that Bighorn sheep drew more applications from out-of-state residents, 5,612, than state residents, 4,128.

Ibex attracted 5,132 applications for 175 available licenses, all of which were awarded with 118 going to residents and 57 to non-residents.

And Javelina resulted in 3,449 applications for 2,005 available licenses with 2,004 being awarded, Williams said. Residents obtained 1,846 of those licenses while non-residents received 157.

Any minor discrepancy in the final tally of some hunts reflects the issuance of licenses for military use on McGregor Range in southern New Mexico, Williams said.

More hunters used the online application system this year, about 75-percent, Williams said.

Adopted by the state several years ago, the online system allows hunters to forgo submitting money up front for a license and eliminates the paperwork involved.

And the system makes applying and checking for results as quick as the Internet will allow.

This year the department’s website performed well this year in handling the increased number of hunters going on online to check drawing results, Williams said.

“Everything went pretty smoothly,” he said. “We had plenty of bandwidth to work with this year.”

Last year the department’s website nearly crashed and burned as the site received about 1.8 million hits from hunters seeking results of the annual drawing.

This year the site saw 2.7 million hits but took it all in stride due to the increase in bandwidth designed to accommodate higher volume traffic, Williams said.


This article also appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican's Outdoors section.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Where's the Gila Trout? Here's the Maps & Directions

A native of New Mexico, the Gila trout can be found in clear running streams deep within the Gila National Forest. Photo courtesy of Jerry Monzingo, Fisheries Biologist, US Forest Service.

Fresh off the endangered species list after a long running, and often heroic, recovery effort, anglers can fish for Gila trout in three creeks within the Gila Wilderness and National Forest beginning July 1st.

And Outdoors New Mexico has the maps and directions you'll need to navigate the backcountry of the Gila National Forest and Wilderness where these wonderful fish reside.

Iron Creek is now open year round while Mogollon and Black Canyon creeks are open between July 1st and October 31st.

Anglers wishing to fish for Gila trout need to go online to the state Department of Game and Fish’s website and download a free, Gila trout fishing permit. This is required in addition to possessing a regular fishing license.

Special thanks to Jerry Monzingo, US Forest Service Fisheries Biologist with the Gila National Forest for preparing the following text and maps for public use.

Monzingo is a 13-year veteran of the US Forest Service and a native of Cliff, NM. He holds a BS in Wildlife Biology from Western New Mexico University in Silver City and when he's not working he can be found helping his wife and two sons raise livestock for 4-H and FFA competition.

Mogollon Creek

Mogollon creek is a tributary of the Main Stem Gila River,located in the Gila Wilderness on the Wilderness Ranger District.

The stream is expected to provide excellent opportunities for some exciting Gila trout fishing.

To access the stream, travel approximately 30 miles northwest from Silver City, NM on State Highway 180 West to the small town of Cliff, NM where gas and groceries are available.

From Cliff travel northeast on State Road 211 for approximately 2.25 miles to 916 Ranch Road which is a county maintained dirt road that can get sloppy when wet.

Head North on 916 Ranch Road for approximately 7-8 miles to an intersection, take a right and head east for approximately 6.5 miles to the "74 Mountain" trailhead where there is a small parking area and trailhead sign.

There is a stream crossing along this 6.5 mile road that is typically dry during the summer months but during monsoon season could flow high enough to prevent passage and leave one stranded on the other side for several days.

So be prepared.

From the trailhead your hiking adventure begins.

Trail #153 begins with a relatively mild hike of about 1.5 miles through pinon-juniper canyons to the base of "74 Mountain".

The trail up "74 Mountain" is rocky and steep and will require some sweat, so take plenty of water and note that in July and August it can be brutally hot and dry.

Leave the trailhead by daylight or before to minimize discomfort.

Once you reach the saddle near the top of "74 Mountain", the trail winds mid-slope around the east facing slope of the mountain for approximately 1.75 miles to a junction with trail 189, West Fork Mogollon Creek Trail.

Stay right along the top of the ridge on trail 153.

From the junction of 153 and 189 you will travel approximately 1.5 miles on the ridge and then begin your descent into Mogollon Creek.

The hike down is steep and moderately difficult with plenty of switchbacks.

Once you reach the bottom, fishing for Gila trout is open from approximately a half mile downstream of the trail to approximately 3.5 miles upstream at the confluence of Trail Canyon and Mogollon Creek at the intersection of trails 153 and 301.

At the junction of trail 153 and 301, trail 153 turns north up Trail Canyon and is impassable. Trail 301 continues up Mogollon Creek but fishing is not allowed upstream of the trail junction.

There are numerous great camping spots along the creek but be sure to practice minimum impact camping and pack out what you packed in, after all, this is the first designated wilderness area in the Nation.

A note of caution, be mindful of weather conditions that can change rapidly in southern New Mexico.

From July through August expect afternoon thunder storms that can be quite severe. Avoid being out on the trail during a lightning storm and pack a poncho.

Mid-day temperatures during the summer can reach the upper 90’s, so plenty of water and cool, loose clothing are essential.

Download a map to Mogollon Creek here .

Johnny Zapata, a Forest Service Range/Wildlife Technician, Wilderness hauls Gila trout by mule into Black Canyon during a restocking effort in 2007. Photo courtesy of Jerry Monzingo, Fisheries Biologist, US Forest Service, Gila National Forest.

Iron Creek

There are two routes that can be utilized to access Iron Creek from the northern boundary of the Gila Wilderness.

Choose one or the other depending on your hiking capability and ability to deal with higher altitudes.

From the town of Glenwood, NM travel north on State Highway 180 for approximately 4 miles to State Road 159, also known as Bursum Road.

Follow 159 east for approximately 16 miles to Sandy Point Trail Head.

The first 10 miles of 159 to the Ghost Town of Mogollon is paved but is very steep, narrow, and windy.

Once to Mogollon the road turns to a gravel and dirt surface for the remainder of the way to Sandy Point.

The trail head at Sandy point provides parking, a toilet and camping is allowed.

From Sandy Point at an elevation of 9,100 feet. you will begin your ascent to 10,500 feet, the highest elevation on the trail near Hummingbird Saddle.

Start downhill through Hummingbird Saddle and the trail skirts around the north slope of Whitewater Baldy, at 10,895 ft. the highest peak on the Gila.

Approximately 0.75 miles south of Hummingbird Saddle turn east on trail 172 and travel approximately 3 to 3.5 miles northeast.

There is no trail dropping into Iron Creek so you have to pick you poison and just drop off trail 172 into the creek where you think you may be able to pick your way through rock outcrops to the bottom.

See the map for Iron Creek for a possible route.

To access Iron Creek by the second route continue along State Road 159 for another 10-12 miles past Sandy Point to Willow Creek campground at 8,000 ft.

From the trailhead at Willow Creek hike 1 mi. south on trail 171 to Iron Creek Lake, there are no fish in here and then turn south on trail 172.

Take 172 southwest for approximately 4 miles and again pick a spot to drop off into Iron Creek.

From Iron Creek Lake at 8,300 ft it is a steady climb to 9,400 ft. along 4 miles to the drop off spot.

Alternatively you can take trail 151 from Iron Creek Lake and drop into Iron Creek and fish your way up the creek to the fish barrier located approximately 3.5-4 miles upstream of where trail 151 hits the creek.

Hiking up the creek will be rigorous as willows are thick.

If you are coming from the north through the Forest you will have to avoid Forest Road 28 near Gilita Creek as it is washed out and is currently under construction near the confluence of Gilita Creek and Willow Creek.

From 28 you can take Forest Road 119 to Bearwallow Mountain then Forest Road 153 to State Road 159 to circumvent the construction area.

As noted earlier, it will be hot during the month of July when the fishing season begins, however, higher elevations will be a little cooler.

But be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms and dropping temperatures afterwards. Remember you are in the Gila Wilderness, pack out what you pack in.

Download a map to Iron Creek here .

A Gila trout. Photo courtesy of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Black Canyon

Black Canyon is the one Gila trout stream within in the Gila National Forest which anglers can drive to and fish.

But even so it can be a long, challenging trip.

From Silver City take State Hwy. 180 E 6 mi. to NM-152 at town of Central also known as Santa Clara. Turn right onto NM-152 and after 15 miles turn right, east, onto state road 35 and continue for approximately 17 miles in a northwest direction to Forest Road 150 also known as Northstar Mesa Rd. Turn right on Forest Road 150 and continue for 18 miles to Black Canyon.

It should ne noted Forest Road 150 is a dirt and gravel road that requires high clearance vehicles especially where it traverses Rocky Canyon. Sections of the road can become slick and muddy with precipitation. There are no services for approximately 80 miles in Winston, NM.

From I-25 north of Truth or Consequences take exit 83 to NM 195 then NM 181/US 85 to NM 52. Continue north for 28 miles on NM 52 to Winston, NM where gas and food is available. From Winston continue approximately 10 miles to NM 59 and follow NM 59 for approximately 31 mi. to Beaverhead, a Forest Service work station. The road is paved to this point. At Beaverhead turn left onto Forest Road 150/NM61 a gravel and dirt raod and proceed approximately 25 miles to Black Canyon.

Camping is available along Black Canyon downstream of Forest Road 150. Campgrounds have toilets and picnic tables.

Lower 1 mi. reach of Gila trout area is accessible from FS 150 where it crosses the creek. To access the upper reaches of the creek you must head back north on FS 150 and climb out of the canyon to a trail that will take you around the private property located in Black Canyon. See the attached map. Sections of the trail are not a system trail and are not marked or maintained.


Download a map to Black Canyon Here.

Those seeking more information about these directions, road conditions and other information about the Gila wilderness and forest areas can visit the Gila National Forest’s website or call their office in Silver City at (505) 388-8201.

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