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Geology of the Wilderness


To thoroughly enjoy the wilderness experience, a look at the topography is helpful. The Mogollon Mountains provide the main accent to the landscape. This is the high point of the drainage area for the Gila River system, which drains the slopes of the Mogollon Rim. From the headwaters, the creeks flow into the three forks of the Gila, two of which, the Wast Fork and Middle Fork, meet at the visitor center and join the Eest Fork a few miles south of of the small community of Gila Hot Springs. From here, the Gila turns west and then south on its journey into Arizona, south of the Mogollon Range.

The mountains and canyons of this region hve been formed by a combination of forces, including volcanic action, faulting and erosion. Sixty-five million years ago, a great series of volcanic eruptions shook the area. Later, more than twenty million years ago, another period of volcanism occurred. This activity created large mesas which began to erode, creating today's canyons. A later earthquake period brought faulting. It is thought that the Mogollon Range was created by this thrusting action. The earlier volcanic eruptions are thought to have brought the precious minerals, the gold and silver for which Silver City is famous, close to the surface. All of these geological changes have turned what was an inland sea seventy million years ago, into the heavily scored landscape of today.

Fraser Bridges


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