A couple of us ran the Gila starting on March 18 from the hot springs (i.e., Grapevine) down to Turkey Creek take out. It was running 750 the entire time, which was amazing. Looks like it is still running 450 a week later. This river rarely runs for any length of time, let alone a month! Get it while the getting is good. Some tips and information:
1) The only guidebook is by William Luther, in El Paso, TX. It isn't great, but it is all there is and will work. His contact is: [email protected]
; Bill's phone is 915-255-6251 He will mail it for $16+$7.35 (second day mail) =$23.35. 4cornersRiver Sports in Durango also carries it.
2) Watch out for blockages. At least two are known. Gila flashed to over 2200 cfs in early March and brought some trees down. The worst is at about mile 30.5 just downstream of boat wash falls.
3) Rapids are not that difficult at 750 cfs. Mostly it is watching for downed trees.
4) Plan for plenty of time to explore, especially hiking side canyons and looking for Native American artwork and structures. The guidebook has plenty of sites identified. The big ruins at mile 31.75 are kind of tough to find but look for them by hiking up to base of cliffs--they are there and worth it.
5) Shuttle takes about 6 hours round trip. It seems like it should be shorter, but the roads are pretty twisty.
6) Nice hotsprings at the put in. $5 gets you three different hotsprings. Free camping at put in and take out.
7) We took out at spot about 1 mile below Turkey Creek (it also has a hotsprings 1.5 miles upstream). Scout your take out or you might go past it. The road into this takeout is passable in 2wd, but...it is steep, twisty and can be muddy if it is raining. It can also wash out and trap your vehicle at the takeout..
You can take out below Turkey Creek, like downstream of the next box canyon, but apparently there are a lot of down trees in this canyon and you may be portaging a lot. Be careful.
9) Yeah, you .can do this trip in two days, and you could possibly do it in a long day at 700+ cfs, but why? We took 5 days. It only runs every decade or so. Why rush. Enjoy the awesome camps, amazing mountains, limitless firewood, and incredible Indian stuff.
10) At 750 cfs we took two Hyside mini-max rafts and they were PERFECT. I would not have wanted to have anything bigger than a 12 footer. A 14 or 16 COULD have made it, but...it would be tight and you might get in trouble. It was no place for canoes UNLESS you are comfortable making moves in swift water and can maneuver really well through downed trees and branches.
11) The Gila Wilderness was the first designated wilderness in the United States. It is an amazing place where you can run an amazing river with Ponderosa pine trees, sycamores, and birch all in the same area. The scenery is everything you have heard about. The only problem is that it is only ~40 mile long. Would have loved to have 100 miles of this amazing place.