Are you looking for a unique outdoor adventure in the Southwest United States?
Look no further than the Gila National Forest Catwalk Recreational Area in New Mexico. Nestled in the heart of the Gila Wilderness, this hidden gem offers a one-of-a-kind experience for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. People visit the Gila National Forest Catwalk Recreational Area for various reasons. The main attraction is the suspended walkway that offers stunning views of the Whitewater Canyon and the surrounding forest. Additionally, visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, picnicking, and camping. The unique and picturesque setting of the Catwalk Recreational Area also makes it a popular spot for photography and nature enthusiasts.
The Catwalk Recreational Area suits visitors of all skill and mobility levels. The walkway is wheelchair accessible, and various hiking trails of different difficulties are available to choose from. This family- and dog-friendly place accommodates people enjoying activities, including picnics at one of the available shaded tables near the water.
The Gila National Forest Catwalk Recreational Area sits in a diverse and rich ecological site home to various wildlife. Some of the common critters that can be found in the area include black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, elk, and various species of birds such as hawks and eagles. Visitors may also spot smaller animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits. It is important to remember that these animals are wild and should be respected from a safe distance, and visitors should take precautions to ensure their own safety, such as keeping a safe distance, storing food properly, and staying aware of their surroundings.
The best time to visit the Catwalk Recreational Area is from April to October, when the weather is mild and open. The site is closed during the winter months due to the risk of snow and ice. Also, the entrances require water crossings. Depending on the water level and speeds, a 4×4 high-clearance vehicle may be required.
Visitors should bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes for hiking and walking on the walkway. If camping, bring camping gear and supplies.
There is a fee of $5 per vehicle to park at the Catwalk Recreational Area. Amenities include vault restrooms, picnic tables, and a visitor center. No online reservations are necessary; show up and fill out the form with your cash or check payment.
We were fascinated to learn that the Catwalk was initially built in the 1890s as a pipeline to deliver water to a mining operation in the nearby town of Graham. The pipeline was constructed along the steep canyon walls of Whitewater Creek, which presented many challenges due to the rugged terrain. The original construction was a wooden walkway and flume, which was later replaced with a steel walkway. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) rebuilt the walkway and created the recreational area visitors enjoy today. Over time, the Catwalk has undergone numerous renovations and improvements to ensure its safety and accessibility for visitors.
Our adventure to enjoy the Catwalk began from Silver City, NM, and was less than an hour’s drive from our exploration base. The visit was well worth the travel time, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon with our adventure pugs!