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Gila Box RNCA, AZ

no permit
503 47 0
Guide 47 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
4.2 of 5 by 6
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Distance One Way 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,210 feet
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2018-05-07
Midnight Canyon - Gila Box RNCA
7  2018-04-28 HandsomeRob
14  2017-12-15
Bonita Creek
23  2017-12-10
Bonita Creek
13  2017-11-12 SkyIslander18
45  2017-11-10 outdoor_lover
15  2017-06-09 SkyIslander18
16  2017-01-13
Dry Canyon - Gila Box RNCA
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Sun  6:05am - 6:16pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Overview: BLM - The 23,000-acre Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is truly an oasis in the desert. It has four perennial waterways - the Gila and San Francisco rivers and Bonita and Eagle creeks, which are the lifeline for this remarkable place. The Gila River canyon section, known as the Gila Box, is composed of patchy mesquite woodlands, mature cottonwoods, sandy beaches, and grand buff-colored cliffs. Bonita Creek, popular for birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking, is lined with large cottonwoods, sycamores, and willows. The perennial creek and riparian vegetation make this a cool year-round desert oasis.

Cliff dwellings, historic homesteads, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and over 200 species of birds make this year-round watery desert refuge worth the short drive from Safford.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 31 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    TV & Mobile alert warnings all night that the Gila River at Solomon would rise 14 feet and be at flood status. Got up early and headed out to see it, it's quite a sight to see the Gila flooding!
    Arrived at the entrance overlook to see the Gila flowing strong again, not quite at a flood status, but lots of chocolate milk flowing down that there river ..... definitely not a swimming day with that flow.
    Made many river view stops on the drive in & out with several hikes starting on the Cottonwood Trail :next: Wildlife platform :next: Spring Canyon :next: Dry Canyon and many side trips.
    Monsoon/overcast weather all day, rained on me half the time & the whole Box just looked Awesome today!
    Wildlife - Grey fox, 2 javelina, many wind surfing vultures, millipedes, brown & black tarantulas.

    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With a hot morning of work finished I now wanted a cool swim.
    Drove out to Gila Box for a dip in the mighty Gila River.
    Arrived to see that the mighty Gila was mighty low :o about as low as I've ever seen it!
    I picked the Dry Canyon area and set up a nice swim camp along the bank.
    Very low flow, but I found some good waist high pockets to swim and had a really fun time hiking up and down the middle of the river ..... not something I get to do often.
    3 hours spent, water felt summer great & I'll be back for more!
    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Recent conversation with the Riverview CG hosts convinced me it was time to head up this canyon I've always looked at with curiosity, but had always just put on the "some day" list.
    Entrance requires a Gila River crossing and with the water flow low right now and the still cool morning temps, today was a good day to add that check mark. Started from Riverview and although the river flow is low right now, that crossing was still a tad "adventurous"! Made it across, changed into my hiking shoes and after some desert maze fun ..... I entered Midnight.
    Wow ..... what a most unexpected canyon delight it was! Incredible formations, narrows, towering walls & geology like I've never seen before. The geodes, chalcedony & fire agate deposits found in many areas had this rockhounder in a state of shock! Hiked in about 2.5 miles before turning back after a side canyon lunch. On the way out, climbed up to check out a big alcove and took a bee sting to the forehead. First bee sting I've received in about 10 years and by the end of the day I had a golf ball in my forehead lol ..... little pumpkin!
    After Midnight I hiked a mile up into Rail End Canyon located just to the south for a look. This canyon was more open and not at all as interesting as it's big brother to the north, one & done I believe on Rail End Canyon.
    One more Gila River crossing brought me back to Riverview at Noon and with the temps getting warm I called it a day at Gila Box.
    This one has most definitely made my yearly rotation list at Gila Box. Wonderful scenic hike, amazing canyon and maybe a little prehistoric gem along the way :-$

    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Pipeline Road section out-n-back.
    Sunrise start.
    Green, green, green throughout.
    Good flower showing for late April.
    Cactus are starting to bloom.
    The Ocotillo forest looked amazing.
    Bonita Creek looked great up and back.
    Hammock break for lunch & nap on the return.
    Extra credit miles to the end of the fish barrier road-n-back.
    Hiked out at 1pm to warm temps.
    Swim in the Gila River at Riverview before leaving Gila Box ..... Ahhhhh
    Bighorn sheep, bullfrogs, fish, heron, ducks, lizards, butterflies, vultures, hawks, birds I'll never know the names of, dragonflies, rock squirrels, coati & bear tracks were spotted today.
    Bonita Creek/Gila Box :DANCE:

    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My first time ever in Gila Box at 48
    It was a lot like when I was 47 ..... Awesome :y:
    Completed the entire Cottonwood Trail and hit a little bit of everything else.
    Ocotillos are leafy green, a few yellow flower bouquets along the roads, cottonwoods are mostly filled in.
    The Mighty Gila was flowing good, Bonita Creek was gentle.
    Saw a coati and several bighorns, but all were far across the river ](*,)
    It was a good reward day!

    Also want to wish RW a Happy B-Day ... Pisces Rock Arizona!
    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    2nd trip out to Bonita in 5 days because ..... it's Bonita in December colors!

    Ready, set ..... go

    Arrived at Gila Box with the sunrise.
    Saw 3 deer while driving down Bonita road (rare).
    Took awhile for the sun to reach into the canyon = cold.
    Colors & creek looked great from the get.
    Hiked Pipeline road & back.
    13 creek crossings, only got my toes wet once.
    Creek is full of leaf litter as are the beaver pools.
    Coati scared me or did I scare it?
    New alcove art found, tip from a friend.
    R&R at the awesome in-canyon campground. Hammock, coffee with sweets & bushcraft.
    3 sheep just beyond the fish barrier high up on the return trip.
    Also ducks, rock squirrels, hawks, tiny fish & 4 2 legged uprights spotted this morning.

    All done and home by Noon.

    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Plan A was the middle section of the canyon from the Lee TH down to the end of Pipeline Rd.
    But oooh no Plan B instead! After arriving down at the Lee TH, I was surprised to see that for the first time in many years the beaver dam lakes were not wall to wall and the plan changed ..... we did the upper section up to the Red Knolls crossing (my first time up this section).
    We headed up and I was very excited to see this stretch, I knew of a secret location revealed to me by a BLM friend years ago. It was a challenge at times going up this area with the many creek crossings and bushwhacking that took some thought to stay dry. By the last mile it became almost impossible to stay out of the numerous creek channels and we switched over to water footwear. Cold creek water with wet feet brought us up to the Red Knolls crossing. We rested here a bit with cups of hot coffee & sweets before continuing on up and out of the canyon. The hike back to complete the lasso loop was the long haul that took us well into the darkness. Preston's truck never looked so good to me at the end! This one wore me out, but what a great new section of Bonita explored. Gila Box is just simply amazing to me and it is always an awesome good time exploring with Mr Sands!

    Bonita had good flow on this day.
    The foliage colors looked great, not quite peak yet, but close.
    We found the secret up high in a side canyon ..... it was old :DANCE:
    No big wildlife spotted today, but I did get a good pic of a Unicorn :)

    Thank You Preston for taking me, I do believe we will walk this road again one day!

    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Drove out to Gila Box in the late afternoon to visit with Pam on her last night spent out at Riverview Campground.
    Arrived at the campsite to find her gone and presumed out hiking so I jumped onto the Cottonwood Trail for a short hike around myself. Took the trail up to the Kearny Monument, then down to the Serna Cabin & Gila River. Met a nice couple down by the river and had a very enjoyable chat during which they pointed out a critter to me across the way.
    Critter chasing then took up the rest of my time down by the river as I made my way back to Pam's campsite during sunset.
    Arrived to find her back from her hike, we then set up chairs around the campfire and visited half the night away. She shared pics of her rams with me and I shared pics of my coati, we did good with the wildlife this evening!
    Good time spent out at the Box, Thanks Pam!
    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Driving, Camping, Hiking, and Photographing in the Box... Tons of Wildlife and the Trees were just starting to turn. Got a Hat Trick of the Ring Tailers driving back to Camp the 2nd Night. It was Dark, of course... First a Raccoon running down the Road, then a Ring-tailed Cat crossing the Road and scaling a Vertical Cliff on the other Side, then a Lone Coatimundi.... Wouldn't see any of them while it was Light, but I spent several Hours watching a Herd of Bighorn Sheep with two Rams that were just starting to become Adversaries.... So Cool to watch those slight Interactions and the Leader's Angst about the Contender...

    Chad joined me for some of it and we finished Catching Up on Life and News until the wee hours of the Morning on my last Night.

    Photoset to come, probably next Year... :sweat:
    Gila Box RNCA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    First a hike - Up Pipeline Road 1 mile then back down pass the fish barrier to the end.
    Second up a swim - Drove down to the end of Riverview Campground for a swim in the Gila. Light flow of only a foot of water allowed me to hike right up the middle of the river for a mile. Very fun, very refreshing water temps.
    Last up lunch - Stopped at Spring Canyon Picnic Area for a meal, then another swim in the Gila ... did Not wait 30 minutes.
    Warm sunny day - Beautiful summer scenery - Refreshing water - I shall return!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Safford to reach the west side, travel five miles east on U.S. Highway 70 to Solomon, AZ. At Solomon, turn left on the Sanchez Road and follow the road to the end of the pavement. From there, follow the signs to Bonita Creek and the lower end of the Gila Box. To reach the east side from Safford, take Highway 70 east 10 miles to its junction with U.S. Highway 191. Turn left and follow Highway 191 about 29 miles to milepost 160, which is four miles south of Clifton, AZ. Turn left onto the signed Black Hills Back Country Byway, and follow the road four miles to the conservation area.
    page created by SkyIslander18 on Nov 08 2011 1:03 pm
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