Wilderness Areas

road winding through the gila wilderness

Two of the finest wilderness areas in New Mexico overlap the western side of Sierra County.

Together, the Gila National Forest and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness offer 3 million acres of wild nature, portions of which are perfect for activities like camping, hiking, or just enjoying the silence and clean air of this uncharted territory.

Gila Wilderness

The Gila was the first national wilderness area officially dedicated, in 1924 — and it remains the largest primitive area still maintained.

The Black Range, which is contained almost entirely within the Gila National Forest, is located on the western edge of Sierra County and is most easily accessed via the road to Hillsboro (Highway 152). With the exception of the areas along this highway (east of Hillsboro & Kingston) which offer camping and hiking, most of the Black Range is very difficult to traverse and almost entirely undeveloped.

The southern portion of the Black Range is also known as the Mimbres Range, as it was occupied from about 1000-1150 CE by the Mimbres people, whose most famous site, the Gila Cliff Dwellings (well-marked from Highway 152), is located in Grant County not far from the Sierra County border.

More information on the Gila Wilderness is available at the Black Range Ranger District Office:

USDA Forest Service / Gila National Forest
Black Range Ranger District
1804 North Date Street
Truth or Consequences, NM 87901
hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm (except national holidays)

Aldo Leopold Wilderness

aldo leopold wilderness sierra county new mexico

Named for the early naturalist and pioneer of Wilderness preservation, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness runs along the Continental Divide, straddling the crest of the Black Range. It covers more than 200,000 acres and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It is separated from the even larger Gila Wilderness by Forest Service Road 150.

The former mining town of Chloride is positioned on the edge of this wilderness, and hiking trails can be found just up the canyon from Chloride’s Main Street. You’ll need a high clearance vehicle if you plan to explore the road by car.

Wilderness Ranger District
HC 68, Box 50
Mimbres, NM 88049

road toward the aldo leopold in snow