Lower Gila Box
Miles below the mountain peaks of the Gila Wilderness, the character of the river changes dramatically. As it enters the Gila Box National Riparian Conservation area its banks are lined with cottonwoods, creosote and large barrel cactus. High canyon walls of sandstone, basalt and conglomerate rise up and then fall away as you weave your way through tight, tree-lined rapids and explore crystal clear side streams. One can expect a bump in river flow after the confluence with the Rio San Francisco, meaning that this trip can be either fantastic standalone adventure or a great (and warmer) three or four day alternative when the Gila Wilderness is too low.
All participants will plan to arrive in Safford Az on the morning of the trip, where we will meet you and shuttle everyone to the put in.
We will get to the river after roughly an hour drive, rig our rafts and launch on the water! Enjoy a beautiful morning riding the narrow ribbon of the Gila river and dodging overhanging trees and the thick desert brush that makes the Gila National Riparian area so unique. We will cover another 10 river miles or so and make camp along the rivers edge. We will then be deep in the wilderness where we can enjoy a beautiful side hike or take in the solitude riverside from a camp chair by a crackling fire.
After a hot and leisurely breakfast we will hop on the water and head downstream, deeper into the Gila Box wilderness! In the early spring it is common to hear the distant sounds of migrating Whooping Cranes high above! We will pass the Rio San Francisco confluence and the river should double in size!
Another crisp morning and river day will follow. We will wind our way through the Gila’s growing canyons and the tight brushy class II rapids, keeping a close eye out for obstructions, strainers and wildlife! High above you will notice the ever changing geology of this section of river: At one moment it is sandstone, at another conglomerate, and then suddenly towering basalt! Side hikes are numerous in this section.
If your trip ends on this day, you will notice the canyon walls retreating and will gain an incredible vista that stretches downstream and frames the distant peaks of the nearly 11,000 ft Mt. Graham and Pinaleño mountains! Once we are packed up and de-rigged it is about 20 minutes back to Safford and your vehicle.
Our 4-day itinerary leaves more time for relaxing in camp and for hikes and exploration. You can expect more time in the wilderness and the opportunity to explore on this slower paced trip.
You will notice the taller canyon walls retreating and will gain an incredible vista that stretches down river and frames the distant peaks of the nearly 11,000 ft Mt. Graham and Pinaleño mountains! Once we are packed up and de-rigged it is about 20 minutes back to Safford and your vehicle.
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Safford, AZ is easily accessible from Arizona metropolitan areas. It is about 35 miles north of I10 and 200 miles south of I40.
Flights into Tucson, Phoenix and even Show Low are numerous. If you plan on flying you will need to look into rental car options. Safford is roughly 4hrs from Phoenix, 2hrs from Tucson and 3hrs from Show Low.
Get ready to pitch a tent, sling a hammock, throw down a pad, and relax! Every day we will prepare and serve you a delicious riverside lunch, not limited to, but often including an array of home-roasted sandwich meats and homemade dips and salsas (see some of our recipes here). In addition, our camp dinners and breakfasts are a classic staple of the Far Flung experience, as 40 years in business has not only taught us the principles of reading white-water…but also of cooking and camp ambiance!
***Please let us know ahead of time about any allergies or special food requirements***
Following is a list of required and recommend items for this three-day camping excursion. You will also receive this list as part of your confirmation email. As part of the trip we will provide waterproof drybags for all of your personal items, tents, pads and camp chairs for fireside relaxation and enjoyment. Sleeping bags are not included, though if needed we can provide them for an additional $5/night.
Please click here to look at a more in-depth list of required and recommended camp gear:
Going Camping? Here’s what you’ll need.