These two sites are along the Gila River upstream from the town of Winkelman, Arizona. The Shores and Christmas recreation sites are minimally developed to provide access to the river for river-related recreation opportunities.
The Gila River recreation area is located along the Gila River and SR 77 north of Winkelman in Gila County, AZ, approximately 70 miles north of Tucson and 100 miles southeast of Phoenix.
From Winkelman, take SR77 east to milepost 141.4 to the Shores Recreation Site entrance road, and milepost 144.6 to the Christmas Recreation Site.
Small craft floating, tubing, fishing, bird watching, picnicking and camping.
River flows during the spring and summer are suitable for river floating activities through outstanding canyon scenery with diverse desert wildlife habitat. Generally, stream flows over 300 cubic feet per second provide small craft floating opportunities, including inflatable kayaks, canoes and tubing. Floating hazards include a fence across the river upstream from the Shores site with an opening for small floating crafts to pass.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
A permit is not required for private, non-commercial use of the sites. Use of the sites in connection with commercial recreational use requires a BLM Special Recreation Permit. Target shooting is not allowed in developed sites.
A four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary to access the site or to maneuver into driveways and parking turnouts at the recreation sites. However, due to the narrow passages, motor homes and trailer RVs are not suitable in the area. The restrooms are wheelchair accessible; however, access to other recreation opportunities is limited because of uneven ground surfaces, loose soils, steep slopes, and dense vegetation.
Camping and Lodging
Primitive camp sites are available at both sites. Facilities include parking, fire pits, and vault toilets. The camp sites are not suitable for motor homes bigger than a small pickup camper. Lodging is available at hotels and campgrounds in the nearby communities of Winkelman, Kearny, Superior, Mammoth, and Globe. Winkelman has a river park with camping, water, toilets and other facilities available for public use.
Food and Supplies
Restaurants, grocery, fuel and convenience stores are available in the Towns of Winkelman and Mammoth.
The nearest medical facilities are in Globe at the Cobre Valley Community Hospital, and in Oro Valley at the Oro Valley Hospital.
The Gila River crosses private and Arizona State Trust land. Access across private land requires the land owner’s permission. Please respect private property rights by not stopping on private land without permission and obtain a permit from the Arizona State Land Department before driving across state lands. A valid Arizona Game and Fish Department license is required for hunting or fishing.
Further information may be obtained by contacting:
Tucson Field Office
3201 E. Universal Way
Tucson, AZ 85756
Phone: (520) 258-7200
Fax: (520) 258-7238
Field Manager: Melissa Warren, Acting
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., M-F