Gila Lower Box WSA

Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

This week the Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is our highlight.  The central feature of this WSA is the Lower Box, a five mile-long, 600 foot deep, steep-walled canyon the cut by the Gila River.  The pristine canyon is heavily vegetated with riparian species such as ash, cottonwood, sycamore, and willow.  The Lower Box has very high biological diversity with 265 species of birds, 67 mammal species, 12 species of amphibians, and 54 reptile species recorded.  It is one of the best bird watching areas in New Mexico.
The Gila Lower Box is a good example of some of the multiple values WSAs sometimes have. In 1980, it was identified to have wilderness characteristics (i.e. a roadless area over 5,000 acres, natural, and providing outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude; the WSA is managed to not impair those characteristics). Later, in 1993, the area was also found to have wild and scenic river characteristics (i.e. it is free flowing and has outstandingly remarkable river values); the BLM protects those values as well.

The Fisherman's Point Trail takes you from the canyon rim down to the river.  River meanders and dense vegetation make it difficult to walk up or down the river, that is, without getting wet.  Avoid crossing this river during periods of runoff when it is deep and swift.

From US 70, 3.5 miles northwest of Lordsburg, New Mexico, turn north on NM 464.  Travel just over 14 miles on NM 464 and turn west on a bladed county road (Fuller Road).  Drive Fuller Road about 5 miles and turn north on a dirt road.  Drive north about 3½ miles to the end of the road and a parking area for the Fisherman’s Point Trail.  These are dirt roads requiring suitable clearance and caution during rain or snow when they become impassible.  For more information please visit the Gila Lower Box website.

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