WHEN THERE ARE 3.3 MILLION acres of the Gila National Forest to hike, bike, camp, fish, photograph, and explore, you don’t want to waste even a few hours getting there. That’s why the Grant County Airport, just south of Silver City, has served as a gateway for extended wilderness adventures, quick family getaways, and everything in-between since the 1950s.
“It’s a beautiful area where you can truly get amazing, breathtaking views,” says Grant County Airport manager Rebekah Wenger.
Outdoor enthusiasts can check out the numerous Gila trails, like the Piñon Trail and Angel Loop Trail, a moderate 3-mile hike near Silver City, or Little Bear Canyon Trail, an 8.5-mile trek outside the village of Pinos Altos.
Further excursions await among the steep slopes and abundant wildflowers of Rockhound State Park, and beneath the magnificent stone towers of City of Rocks State Park, both of which are near Deming, an hour’s drive or less from the airport.
Fans of the Old West can check out ghost towns like Mogollon, a former mining hub hidden high in the mountains of the Gila, or head south to see Shakespeare, an old stomping ground for Old West outlaws like Billy the Kid.
Bring the kids to the Catwalk National Recreation Area, near Glenwood, and hike down a winding path (with guardrails) over Whitewater Canyon, or spend the night stargazing at the Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Then head back to Silver City and tour the historic district’s museums and galleries.