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Native peoples have used the Gila Hot Springs area in various ways for thousands of years. The Mimbres-Mogollon farmed the valleys. The Apache revered the springs for their medicinal and spiritual values.

As the European moved north into the forest, they also discovered the benefits and comforts of the hot springs. The early mountain men and trappers used the valley, as did the miners and the soldiers who set up an outpost here.

The springs vary widely both in temperature and size and are often found in close proximity to streams and rivers where geothermal heated waters return to the surface along faults and fractures. Please treat hot springs with care so that others may enjoy them in the future.

Middle Fork / Lightfeather

Jordan Hot Springs

Turkey Creek    By: Doug LeMoine

Gila Hot Springs Ranch

Wilderness Lodge

Hot Springs Found in the Wild:

Middle Fork / Lightfeather Hot Springs:
Located a half mile from the Gila Visitor's Center up the Middle Fork of the Gila River on Trail 157. The round-trip requires four river crossings, with an average water level of adult knee deep. To reach the trailhead, go to the far end of the Visitor Center's parking lot and turn right. The trailhead parking area is a short distance up the hill, on the left. Walk down the road beyond the gate to the bottom of the hill. The main trail continues towards the canyon, crossing the river in just a short distance. The hot springs are on the right (east) side of the canyon, beyond the second crossing. Shallow, muddy pools have been dug next to the river to cool the hot water, which comes out at over 130 degrees.

Jordon Hot Springs
These are found next to the Middle Fork of the Gila River, about 8 miles upstream from the Visitor's Center. They are not as hot as other wilder- ness hot springs. You can reach them by two routes forming a loop:

1. Via the Middle Fork (6 miles one way): Park at the TJ Corral and take Trail 157, just north of the Visitor Center. Follow the trail past the locked gate and straight upstream into the canyon. The trail follows the river for 6 miles, until its junction with the trail descending from Little Bear Canyon. See #2. There will be approximately 50 river crossings on this route.
2. Via Little Bear Canyon (5 miles one way): Park at the TJ Corral trail head, 1 mile from the Visitor Center on the road to the Cliff Dwellings. Take Trail 729 and follow the signs to "Middle Fork". The trail climbs 2 miles gradually to the junction with the Meadows Trail #164 and continues to the top of the divide between the West and Middle Forks, and then descends through Little Bear Canyon to the Middle Fork of the Gila (another 2 miles). Little Bear Canyon is very narrow in places. Do NOT enter the canyon during flash flood weather! Immediately cross the Middle Fork and head upstream. There will be 15 river crossings before you reach the hot springs. The springs are on the right (northeast) side of the canyon, just beyond and above a marshy area with obvious seepage. It is about 2 miles to the hot springs from the junction of Little Bear Canyon and the Middle Fork.

Turkey Creek Hot Springs
These are located approximately 4 miles from the trailhead at the end of Turkey Creek Road /Trail 153, and about 1.5 miles from the point where the trail cuts up Skeleton Canyon and rims to Sycamore Canyon. There is no maintained trail to the hot springs and extensive wading and bouldering is necessary. The springs cannot be reached with livestock. Hikers are asked to be especially conscious of packing out trash.

Hot Springs Open to the Public:

Gila Hotsprings Campground
Natural Hot Pools available for the day or camping in one of 12 primitive camp sites, all beside the West Fork of the Gila River. Highway 15 Gila Hot Springs, NM Between mile markers 38 & 39, four miles before Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument 575-536-9944 / www.gilahotspringscampground.com

The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs:
Soak in beautifully sculpted stone hot pools fed from nearby hot springs while staying at this rustic bed and breakfast. Use of pools with over- night lodging only.. Highway 15 Gila Hot Springs, NM / 575-536-9749 / www.gilahot.com

Wildwood Retreat & Hot Springs:
Pools are fed by natural hot spring waters. Enjoy for the day or camp in shady comfort along side the beautiful Gila River.
111 West Fork Road Gila Hot Springs, NM
575-536-3600 / www.silvercity.net/~wildwood/
© 2010 by Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway.