100 Years of Wilderness

The Gila is the birthplace of wilderness


The Gila National Forest is celebrating 2024 as year of celebration of the world’s first wilderness. The Gila Wilderness was designated on June 3, 1924.

“One hundred years ago, Aldo Leopold held with conviction that wilderness is a value unto itself and a precious resource to be protected. He also had the influence and power of persuasion to effect change,” said Gila National Forest Supervisor Camille Howes. “He argued for large swaths of land to be set aside for ecosystem function and recreation, where man is only a visitor. Convinced of his wisdom, the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service answered the call for protection by designating the Gila Wilderness.” 

Forty years later, the Wilderness Act of 1964 secured the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness for present and future generations as a policy of the U.S. Government.

Together with community partners, the National Forest has been featuring the Gila Wilderness since February and the Natural History of the Gila Symposium and will close with the Gila River Festival in October.

Celebratory events held throughout the year include hikes, articles, stargazing events, youth murals, trainings, books, and a wide variety of other community activities. Watch for news and information about scheduled events throughout 2024.

Visit “World's First Designated Wilderness” webpage to view a calendar of events, learn interesting facts, and find links for partners, historic photos, and more. For more information contact Maribeth Pecotte at 575-388-8211.