Silver city, new mexico

September 20th - 23rd, 2018

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The 14th Annual 

Gila River Festival

The Gila Conservation Coalition hosts the 14th annual Gila River Festival “Celebrating 50 Years of Wild & Scenic Rivers” September 20-23, 2018 in Silver City, NM, the Gila National Forest and along the Gila River. 

Rivers run through us—our hearts, our lives, and our history. As a nation, we recognize the value of rivers to our drinking water supplies, ecosystems, wildlife and recreation opportunities, engendering our strong sense of responsibility to protect them.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that established the National Wild and Scenic River System, protecting more than 12,000 miles of rivers in 40 states and Puerto Rico for recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, scenery, water quality, and cultural heritage.

At the 14th Annual Gila River Festival, we will celebrate this momentous legislation and explore long-term protection of the Gila River through Wild and Scenic River designation. The festival features field trips, presentations, dancing, and events for the whole family.

Schedule overview.

Registration opens July 1, 2018.


15th Annual Gila River Festival

September 19 - 22, 2019

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Events taking place on Forest Service land are authorized by the Gila National Forest through a special use permit.


Schedule of Events

Field Trips

The Gila River Festival features expert-led field trips to the Gila River and Gila National Forest, focusing on local cultural and natural history, such as archaeology, rock art, birding, and more. On-line registration opens July 1, 2018.

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FIELD TRIP: Lower san francisco canyon


field trip: Wildlife on a scenic river


field trip: wild whitewater


Field trip: wild waters 


field trip: landscapes of the wild gila river


Field Trip: Kayaking 

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field trip: horseback riding 


Field trip: wild birds on a wild river


Field Trip: mogollon box birds


Field Trip: Mineral creek


Field trip: gila river archaeology

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Field trip: gila middle box 


field trip: wild & scenic fishing 


Art: Fish wish - a community art project




We're honored to host some amazing speakers for this year's festival. See the full list here.

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tim palmer

 Tim Palmer is the award winning author and photographer of 26 books, including Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy. He has canoed or rafted on 400 rivers nationwide and was named one of the ten greatest river conservationists of our time and one of the 100 great paddlers of the century by Paddler magazine.                        


Dutch salmon

Author of 10 books, M.H. Dutch Salmon moved to SW NM from northwest Minnesota  in  1979. For more than 40 years  he  has lived and hunted  with  a  pack  of 6 to 10 hounds,  and  he  still  has too many  fishing  rods.  He  has served  on  both  the Interstate Stream Commission and  Game   Commission.  Dutch founded  the Gila  Conservation Coalition  in 1984.


Philip connors

Philip  Connors  has  written about  the  outdoors  for  a  wide range  of  publications.  A  river runner,  Connors  knows  the Gila  River  intimately.  A fire lookout in the Gila National Forest, Connors is the  author of Fire  Season: Field Notes  from a Wilderness Lookout. His newest book,  A  Song  for the  River, is about  the  future  of the  Gila River  &  the  people who love it.


adrian oglesby

Adrian  Oglesby  has  worked  as  a  water  attorney  for  many  years,  focusing  on  river  and  riparian restoration,  agricultural preservation,  efficient  water management,  governmental accountability,  and  fish  and wildlife  conservation.  He  is currently  the  Director  of  the Utton  Transboundary  Resources Center  at  the  UNM  School  of Law.

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melissa sevigny

Melissa  Sevigny  is  the  author  of Mythical River:  Chasing  the Mirage  of  New  Water  in the American  Southwest.  She  has worked  as a  science communicator  in  the  fields  of water  policy,  sustainable agriculture,  and planetary  science, and  is  currently  the Science  & Technology  Reporter  for  KNAU (Arizona  Public  Radio)  in Flagstaff,  Arizona.   

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Steve harris

Steve Harris, the owner of Far Flung Adventures, has been kayaking for over 30 years. Harris is also the Executive Director of Rio Grande Restoration, a New Mexico non-profit organization, established in 1994 to secure the river flows necessary to support restoration of the “great river”. 


denielle perry

Denielle Perry is an Asst Professor at NAU’s School of Earth and Sustainability. She worked for many years as a rafting guide on the Wild and Scenic Rio Grande and Rio Chama in northern New Mexico. She says "It’s no secret that I love water. This passion fuels my research in how environmental institutions and values influence development and conservation of water."

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sinjin eberle & tony estrada

Join filmmakers Sinjin Eberle and Tony Estrada for an exploration of film and digital media as tools for social and environmental change. Estrada and Eberle will introduce and show a few of their short documentaries that demonstrate the power of film to inspire activism.




Silver City, NM


The Gila River Festival is based in Silver City, New Mexico, the gateway to the Gila Wilderness -- America's first wilderness area. A variety of expert-guided field trips will be offered to bring you unforgettable experiences of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest and the Gila River, New Mexico's last wild river. Silver City has a vibrant historic downtown and thriving art community. 

A wide variety of lodging options is available. 


THANK YOU! to our sponsors whose financial contributions make the Gila River Festival possible!

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Photographs: Tori Grass, Stephen Dorn, Jay Hemphill, Wick Beavers, Maddy Alfero, Allyson Siwik, Mark Watson, Mike Fugagli, Nathan Newcomer.

Wild rivers are earth’s renegades, defying gravity, dancing to their own tunes, resisting the authority of humans, always chipping away, and eventually always winning.
— Richard Bangs & Christian Kallen