Ran the Gila Needles Eye Wilderness last weekend. - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-01-2014   #1
 
deadlizard's Avatar
 
peoria, Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Ran the Gila Needles Eye Wilderness last weekend.

This is one of the premiere, and least run wilderness paddles in Arizona.

Trip Video and photos (Jon Fuller, Grace, and myself):
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From Coolidge Dam to Winkelman is one of the most scenic and inaccessible river stretches in Arizona. Jon Fuller, who is involved with a low-water navigatibility study of this section for the state, extended an invitation for this three day trip. The weather was unexpectedly cold the first night, then perfect for the rest of the trip. At 220 CFS, there were many class I+ to III- rapids and a seemingly endless number of sweepers and strainers. The rapids tend to wash out at higher flows but the risk from the brush/trees would get scary. It was obvious that essentially no one runs the portion of the Gila River.

That point was the topic of more than one conversation. The below excerpt from the BLM web site notes the lack of legal access. Does anyone have any knowledge or history concerning attempts to gain access for the public to the Needles Eye area?


Gene


The 8,760-acre Needle's Eye Wilderness is located about 20 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona, in Gila County.

The Mescal Mountains trend northwest across the center of the area where the southwest flank forms a spectacular striped dip-slope of Paleozoic limestone over 2,500 feet high. Slicing through this range, is the Gila River, which enters 3 canyon segments with 1,000-foot walls known as the Needle's Eye. A deep, entangled riparian zone covers the narrow river channel, forming the southern boundary of this area. Several small slickrock canyons bisect the area, and wind to the Gila River.

Recreation such as backpack trips, photography, and challenging day hiking can be experienced in this remote unroaded area. This area offers a high level of solitude to hardy adventurers.

Access

Currently there is no legal access to the Needle's Eye Wilderness. From Phoenix, take State Highway 60 to Globe. Along Highway 70 east of Globe, the area can be accessed either from the Coolidge Dam or the Ranch Creek Road. You must obtain a recreation permit from the San Carlos Apache Indian Tribe in advance. Twenty-six miles south of Globe along Highway 77, the area can be accessed near the Dripping Springs Wash. You must obtain permission to cross State Trust lands and private lands in advance.

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Old 03-01-2014   #2
 
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,119
Not to raise a ruckus but Aldo Leopold would be pleased.

A true wilderness near the Gila.
Totally untrammeled.

========

If this is centered around Reservation protection by the Tribe I would suggest the only way these things get resolved is by Congress. I don't believe the courts will favor anything else, if even that.

One question I would ask is how do firefighters get off fires there? There could be some instances of land extraction. Are there any maintained trails at all? What is their access?

All the best.

========

For reader orientation:

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Old 03-01-2014   #3
 
Cottonwood, Arizona
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That looks like an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing the pics and video.
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Old 03-01-2014   #4
 
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusto5 View Post
That looks like an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing the pics and video.
That was really neat.

Deadlizard:

Did you observe normal current river ethics such as pack out you crap and fire ash? Even though it was so primitive.

How much travel is required on reservation land to get to the put in below the dam?

I read where the Tribal Managers were concerned about abuse and theft of firewood etc. Perhaps if its a short corridor .......... ??
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Old 03-01-2014   #5
 
Scottsdale, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
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I have done that section twice. The first time we had 900 cfs and did it in a day. The second time was at 450 cfs and we did an over night trip. You are on indian land as soon as you get off the highway. The gate was not locked either time and we had no problems getting down to the river (except the road was brutal) It is beautiful down there. The only issue we had was the first time we made the trip we spooked a heard of longhorn cattle causing them to run on their trail downstream. Their trail kept crossing the river and we found ourselves floating into the heard which was scary.
Dave
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Old 03-02-2014   #6
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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Originally Posted by BilloutWest View Post
Not to raise a ruckus but Aldo Leopold would be pleased.
Wow. Dropping an Aldo Leopold reference. You don't hear those very often. Impressive. And my guess is it's too obscure to raise much of a ruckus... although this is the buzz...
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Old 03-02-2014   #7
 
Cottonwood, Arizona
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James Addison Reavis would probably also not be pleased.
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Old 03-02-2014   #8
 
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusto5 View Post
James Addison Reavis would probably also not be pleased.
Slam.

You got me there.
I have read Vanishing Arizona but I don't recall that gentleman so I had to wiki:
Quote:
James Addison Peralta-Reavis, the so-called Baron of Arizona, was an American forger and fraudster.
============

I think most would know of Aldo.
American hero in my book.
I'm retired FS. Not my fault.
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Old 03-02-2014   #9
 
Cottonwood, Arizona
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He did his damnest to take possession of 12 million acres of AZ and NM with the Gila River at the heart.
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Old 07-29-2015   #10
 
Chandler, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Floating Needle's Eye Wilderness in August?

Hi,
I'm looking at floating this section August 7-8, driving from Phoenix area. The water flow is great (490cfs). I have a couple friends interested in going. I would welcome anyone here to join us (especially those who have gone already). Let me know if interested.

I have a few questions for those who have already done it:
1. What permits do we need in order to do this? I assume we'll need a San Carlos permit. Anything else?
2. Where did you take out? Christmas Access Area looks good to me.
3. How bad are the strainers/sweepers? How did you deal with them? Did you ever feel you were in real danger?
4. Do you think a basic packraft (Klymit LWD) would do well in this section? I had no problems using it in the Gila Box (several Class II rapids), but do you think it would it do poorly here? How many Class III- rapids did you see?
5. Anything else I should be concerned about?

Thanks!!
Ray
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