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.

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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.


SEnator Tom Udall (invited)

Senator Tom Udall is uniquely qualified to speak about the historic Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation, as his father Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was instrumental in its passage. Senator Udall will talk about his family’s conservation legacy and New Mexico’s challenges in protecting wild rivers.


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.

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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.   


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.


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, about  the  future  of the  Gila River  and  the  people who love it,  will  be  published in Aug.     

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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”. 


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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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!


Photographs: 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