Writer-activists and Indigenous voices celebrate the vast, rugged landscape of the Gila in "First & Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100."

First and Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100, edited by Elizabeth High-tower Allen (Torrey House Press, 2022)

Local artists, conservationists, and writers including Michael P. Berman, Martha Schumann Cooper, Sharman Apt Russell, and JJ Amaworo Wilson ponder the wilderness’s geology, biodiversity, and history while illustrating the Gila’s importance to the community and the planet.

Jay Hemphill's photographs capture the beauty of the Gila.

The Gila 100: Photographs Celebrating the First Wilderness Centennial, by Jay Hemphill (Mimbres Press, 2024)

“I’d been wanting to do a book on the Gila Wilderness for 20-plus years,” says Silver City landscape and documentary photographer Jay Hemphill, who took the earliest of the book’s 100 photos around 2003. “I’m not driving to a location, setting up, and waiting for the perfect light. I’m in the backcountry, moving from camp to camp all day long. As things catch my eye, I document them.”

M. John Fayhee recounts his transformative experiences in New Mexico's Gila Country over 50 years.

A Long Tangent: Musings by an Old Man & His Young Dog Hiking Every Day for a Year, by M. John Fayhee (Mimbres Press, 2023)

During hikes with his four-legged sidekick, the author reflects on a half century of exploring the Gila. While most of the poignant, insightful, and humorous chapters detail experiences in the Gila National Forest, the Silver City writer says, “probably some of the better stories are Gila Wilderness–specific.”

Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout (Ecco, 2012)

PLUS: Don’t skip over earlier works, including the distinctive adventure tale Gila Descending: A Southwestern Journey, by M.H. Salmon (High-Lonesome Books, 2009), or the pair of musings by longtime fire lookout Philip Connors, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout (Ecco, 2012) and A Song for the River (Cinco Puntos Press, 2018). 

Read more: A grassroots organizer, Luke Koenig builds community around protecting our wild places.