Gila Box National Riparian Area is 20 miles north east of Safford AZ. An area of strong contrasts, dry rocky desert is contrasted by running water. The Gila River runs in the bottom of a rugged canyon. We found a BLM campground and enjoyed 4 days of camping. The area has been protected to provide for the many migrating birds that travel through and nest in the canyon bottoms. The river and streams that flow in the bottoms of the canyon support a narrow band of trees, mostly cottonwoods and mesquites. The cottonwoods were just beginning to leaf out.
Bonita Creek runs quietly through dense undergrowth below the cottonwoods.
The Gila River floods periodically and rips out the trees keeping them from growing very large but in the tributary Bonita Creek we found this massive old cottonwood.