You can still backpack in the Gila

Sun News Report

US Forest Service/Reuters

LAS CRUCES — Those planning a camping trip to the Gila National Forest this Memorial Day weekend should take note of a number of trail and campground closures caused by a massive wildfire that had scorched more than 80,000 acres of rugged forest by Friday afternoon.

The blaze is trailing smoke across three states and sending ash 35 to 40 miles away from the burn. The impact of the fire has led to road closures in the Gila and prompted health officials to issue warnings due to the smoke and ash.

People should limit outdoor activities, keep windows closed and avoid using swamp coolers which bring in smoky air. If driving in a smoky area, keep your vehicle windows and air vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the “recirculate” setting.

But Gila rangers say there are still plenty of safe opportunities to enjoy the wilderness.

The visitors center and Gila Cliff Dwellings are open, and notices are posted there as to which trails are accessible. Additionally, the Forks, Grapevine, Upper and Lower Scorpion campgrounds on Highway 15 are all open. The southeastern portion of the Gila remains open to backpacking and hiking. The Aldo Leopold Wilderness is open for extended backpacking and hiking and all the camps along N.M. 152 are open.

For more information please see: http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila/