Category: Local Events Local Events
Published: 02 September 2014 02 September 2014

10th Annual Gila River Festival

 Celebrating America's First Wilderness River

September 18 - 21, 2014


The Gila River is more than a mere physical presence in our lives. For many of us, a visit to the Gila is a spiritual experience, as well. To acknowledge this important aspect of our existence and to contemplate the sacredness of the Gila River, the 10th Annual Gila River Festival features a few special events.

On Saturday, September 20, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, the festival hosts the creation of a sacred water wheel on the banks of the Gila River. This large geometric design, based on Native American medicine wheels, honors the role of water in our lives. Facilitating this event are three leaders: Native American elder Marshall Jack Golden Eagle, Flordemayo, co-founder and member of the Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, and native New Mexican Brett Myrick, a student of Grandfather Golden Eagle. Between them, they've created dozens of water wheels at rivers and lakes worldwide. Meet at the Silver City Visitors' Center at 10:00 am to carpool to the site, or at the Mogollon Box Area at the end of Box Canyon Road at 11:00 am. It's a short, easy walk from the parking area to the water wheel site. Participants are encouraged to bring any personal sacred items - crystals, totems, icons, etc. - to incorporate into the water wheel. This event is free and open to the public.

Franciscan Sister Joan Brown will speak about "Wild Grace" at the September 21 brunch, 10:30 am to noon at the Seedboat Center for the Arts. Drawing upon religious and ecological traditions of Thomas Merton, Thomas Berry, Rachel Carson, and others, Sister Joan, the director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, will speak to the need for wilderness experiences for our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. The brunch will be prepared by Tre Rosat and will feature local seasonal foods with vegetarian options. This fundraiser helps the Gila Conservation Coalition in their work to protect the free flow of the Gila River. Register at or call 575.538.8078.

Closing out the Gila River Festival on September 21 is a blessing ceremony at the Gila River. From 2:00 to 4:00 pm, Sister Joan and other spiritual leaders facilitate a participatory, interfaith blessing of the Gila River. Meet at the Silver City Visitors' Center at 1:00 pm to carpool to the Mogollon Box, or meet at the Mogollon Box parking lot, at the end of Box Canyon Road, at 1:45 pm. It's a short walk to the river blessing site. This free ceremony is open to people of all belief systems.

The 10th annual Gila River Festival - Celebrating America's First Wilderness River - September 18 - 21, will commemorate two momentous wilderness milestones: the Wilderness Act's 50th anniversary, and the Gila Wilderness Area's 90th anniversary. As America's first wilderness river, the Gila's verdant thread of life weaves through these celebrations. One of the Southwest's premier nature festivals, the Gila River Festival attracts an audience of nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts eager to learn about and experience the Gila's natural wonders. Festival attendees will enjoy a variety of expert-guided field trips in the Gila National Forest and along the Gila River, water wheel ceremony, a multi-media art exhibit, kayaking, wilderness films, a downtown art walk, Sunday brunch, Gala for the Gila, featuring live music by the Roadrunners, and more.

The full festival schedule and on-line registration is available at 

For more information, contact the Gila Conservation Coalition at 575.538.8078 or