Gila National Forest is one of the more popular national forests in New Mexico. However, with over 3 million acres (all of which is open to dispersed camping), three wilderness areas, and hundreds of miles of trails, there are plenty of options for getting away from the crowds. Here, you can explore soaring mountains, sheer canyons, aspen forest, and ancient cliff-dwellings all in one forest.
Nearly all campsites in the Gila are first-come, first-served. In the summer and over holidays, sites at developed campgrounds, especially those with RV hookups, typically fill up fast. Instead, stop by a visitor center for a motor vehicle use map) or use the MVUM map layer in Gaia GPS), and drive until you find a quiet pull-off to park your car and your tent.
Before you go, check for weather and road closures here.
When to Go
Despite hot daytime temps, most folks visit the Gila in summer. If you're primitive camping during May or June, be sure to select a site near larger bodies of water, as smaller trickles and streams typically dry up this time of year. You'll find more reliable water sources (and wetter weather) during the monsoon season, which lasts between July and October. Expect pleasant daytime temperatures and cooler nights during the spring and summer.