Exploring the Gila National Forest

A friend has been recommending I explore the Gila National Forest in New Mexico for awhile now, and I finally got the chance.  I’m glad I did because there was so much to see! Come along as Jeremiah the Nomad Man and I explore this area for the first time on our bikes.

The Camp Site

Gila National Forest - Camp Site

The Gila National Forest is a huge area in western New Mexico and eastern Arizona.  The spot we explored was on the far eastern side, accessed by a narrow forested road that went on for miles.  I setup camp in a nice open area to maximize the amount of sun my solar panels absorb throughout the day. 

The Solar eBike

Gila National Forest - Solar eBike

While exploring on foot can be fun, we can cover much more ground on our bikes.  I used my Rad Rover eBike that I’d modified to be charged through my Solar Panels.  I love being propelled by the sun! The bike has fat tires which are perfect for rolling over the rocks, sticks and ice puddles which cover the road.

The Nomad Man’s Bike

Gila National Forest - Motoped Survival

Jeremiah used his Motoped Survival bike.  It’s a bicycle with pedals and everything, but it also has a small gas motor which shoots you off like a rocket!  The gas tank holds enough fuel to go roughly 80 miles before refueling.

We picked this beauty up at an auction in the middle of nowhere with only 500 miles on it for way less than it sells for new. 

The Water Tank

Gila National Forest

Not far from camp we found an old water tank that was once powered by a towering windmill.  The wind doesn’t appear to turn the motor these days, but water is still being pumped up from the ground via two large solar panels someone installed recently.

Tanks like this can be found throughout public land in the southeastern United States to water cattle which roam in these areas.

Rock Art

Gila National Forest - Rock Art

We quickly came upon signs indicating this area had been populated by indigenous people at one time.  The Rock Art in the photo above is the first instance of these paintings we found, and we found plenty more in the area.

A Tiny Cave

Gila National Forest - Tiny Cave

Not far from the Rock Art above we found this little square hole in the rock.  Upon closer examination it turned out to be a little cave with enough room to have a fire and sleep.  I imagine this was like a room for a teenager whose family slept in the larger nearby caves.

Two Large Caves

Gila National Forest - Two Large Caves

These two caves are much larger than the one just mentioned.  One appeared to be something like a master bedroom, while the other seemed to me like a living room with a rock shelf functioned similarly to a couch.  The inhabitants had stacked up smaller rocks outside the caves to better define their space and protect it from invaders.

A Deep Mine

Gila National Forest - Deep Mine

While driving through the forest Jeremiah spotted a hill of shale.  He recognized this as a tell-tale sign of a mine, so we explored further and discovered this entrance right beneath the roots of a large tree.

We explored a little ways into the entrance, but it appeared to go very deep and we had not brought our flashlights.  We intended to come back the next morning and explore, but we both independently experienced some foreboding signs that evening, and decided against it.

Small Waterfall and Pool

Gila National Forest - Waterfall and Pool

I’m always on the lookout for good places to setup camp for weeks at a time, and this little waterfall flowing into a pool definitely fits the bill!  Access to water is one of the most important elements in a good camp, and having a pool is an added bonus for washing or staying cool in the Summer.

A Mighty Feast!

We rode back to camp as the sun was preparing to set, and Jeremiah cooked up a delicious meal of fried potatoes, onions and kale.  So good!


I hope you enjoyed our little adventure in the Gila National Forest!  I look forward to responding to your questions and comments below.

Cahlen Lee

Cahlen Lee

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