The 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest is located in southwestern New Mexico just north of Mexico and east of Arizona. It is dominated by the Gila River and the mountain ranges, ridges and canyons that make up the surrounding terrain. This complex region spans in elevation from about 4000 feet in the upper Chihuahuan desert to well over 10,000 feet in the Mogollon and Black Ranges. Many different climatic zones are represented here. Water (shown at the Catwalk) is frequently a limiting factor at all altitudes, as is the ability to survive a wide range in temperature from well below freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Autumn colors in the Gila are spectacular. From the Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir forests of the high mountains down to the Mariola in the desert, both animals and plants have to be hardy.
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