Mountain Buzz banner

Gila Region (AZ/NM) winter paddling season is on!

1458 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  gilamonster
The Gila Region winter paddling season has officially begun, with a bang! All of the region's boatable creeks and rivers are up (San Francisco River WSA + 42 miles), Upper San Fran, Gila Wilderness, Gila Middle Box, AZ Gila Box, Mogollon Creek, Whitewater Creek, Blue River and Eagle Creek), with the next paddling window the first week of 2023.
We're staged and ready to paddle here, at my home in Pleasanton, NM, on the banks of the San Franciso River. Seasonal temps for the winter paddling season average 55/32. Right now, my booking calendar is clear, and I can run trips throughout the season (Dec-Apr).

Note: Open (self-bailing) packrafts are IKs are the preferred craft in this region - sorry hardshellers and skirted boat folks, not advised, due to safety and enjoyment considerations.

Happy New Year!
1 - 7 of 15 Posts
`NOTE: Most rivers and creeks in the region aren't great for hardshell kayaks and skirted boats - recommend self-bailing packrafts and IKs are preferred watercraft
What makes a hardshell kayak unsafe in that area?
There is a lot of scouting and blind turns with wood/strainers. Sometimes you have to exit boat to get on land or over wood/debris piles super fast. Also, no one enjoys hardshell kayaks ramming into them, because of differential speed, etc. And then there is the portage potential. I'll have a much better idea what to expect on San Fran WSA and Eagle Creek, after some runs this winter, as there is almost no recent beta online.
I am game for a trip, have IK will travel. Probably would like to see it warm up a little
Gotta go when the water is there, this is the winter paddling season - spring "run-off" or even above-base flows have become almost nonexistent in AZ/NM. First opportunity = 1/6-1/8/23 42-mile San Fran WSA run.
Contrary to recent reports, the Gila has NOT "changed" during the past 5 years, and there are only two river-wide strainers, both within two miles of the take-out at Box Canyon. The main channel is actually the cleanest I have seen it in a while. That said, the Gila Wilderness has never been a good river for canoes or rafts.
thats good to know. i'm still going to give it a whirl here soon, just in a packraft or IK and not toting a kid and a dog.
Contact me at GAILS, if you need a shuttle or other logistics support.
Do people run the San Fran Box canyon between Luna and Reserve? Quite the gorge in there
Not generally, but I'd like to get on it sometime. The obstacles are: 1) unknown fence hazards for miles above the Box, 2) only other access is a hike-in which could be lengthy, depending on condition of FR and 4) probably has to be an overnighter due to length between RAPs and Goldilocks flows. Could be great flows this weekend.....
1 - 7 of 15 Posts