The Owl Creek Campground is located on a scenic bluff overlooking a historic bridge along the Gila River within the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. The campground offers seven camping spaces with picnic tables, grills, and shade ramadas. Restroom facilities are located within the campground.
The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is about an hour northeast of Safford. The Owl Creek Campground is located 10 miles south of Clifton.
Take U.S. Highway 70 east of Safford for 10 miles and turn north on U.S. Highway 191. At Three Way, turn left and continue to follow Highway 191 to milepost 160 (four miles south of Clifton) and turn left onto the Black Hills Back Country Byway. Follow this graded dirt road for four miles to the campground.
Camping, picnicking, birding, driving on Black Hills Back Country Byway, and river access for fishing and floating.
An information kiosk includes a map and other information. The Boat Put In
for those floating the Gila Box is located across the bridge. The Boat Take Out
is located 23 miles downstream. Those planning to float the river should be fully prepared and knowledgeable of river travel. Check the U.S. Geological Survey’s website
for current flow information.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
Fees are $5.00
per day per campsite. The America the Beautiful
Senior and Access Passes are honored at this site. All of the fees collected at each site are reinvested for maintenance and repairs of exhibits, signs, and other recreational enhancements.
Campsites, information kiosk, and the restroom are fully accessible.
Camping and Lodging
The Riverview Campground
is located on the west end of the Gila Box. Dispersed camping is allowed on public lands except for day-use areas; campers should choose previously disturbed sites to reduce impacts. Roper Lake State Park
, located south of Safford, offers campgrounds and cabin rentals. Safford and Thatcher have a variety of lodging options.
Food and Supplies
There is no potable water source within the campground. Campers should bring all necessary food and water for their visit. The nearest stores are located in Clifton and Morenci about 10 miles north. Those traveling from the south should purchase needed supplies in Safford or Thatcher.
No first aid is available on site. Dial 911 for emergencies; cell phone coverage is limited in some areas, so you may have to seek higher ground to reach cell service. The Mount Graham Regional Medical Center is Safford has emergency and medical/surgical capabilities. There is also a smaller hospital in Morenci.
The Gila Box is one of only two Riparian National Conservation Areas (RNCAs) in the nation. Four perennial waterways – the Gila River, Bonita Creek, Eagle Creek, and the San Francisco River – are the lifeblood of this remarkable place. Not only does the RNCA hold one of the most significant riparian zones in the Southwest, it offers tremendous recreational opportunities.
Further information may be obtained by contacting:
Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
Manager: Tom Schnell
711 14th Ave.
Safford, AZ 85546