For anyone in search of the isolated and the undiscovered, the Gila (hee-la) has it in spades. Its 3.3 million acres cover eight mountain ranges, including the Mogollon, Tularosa, Blue and Black. It was here that legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold spearheaded a movement to establish the world's first designated wilderness area, resulting in the creation of the Gila Wilderness in 1924; in 1980, the adjacent terrain to the east was also designated as wilderness and named after Leopold.
This is some rugged country, just right for black bears, mountain lions and the reintroduced Mexican gray wolves. Trickling creeks are home to four species of endangered fish, including the Gila trout. In other words, it's perfect for hiking, hot springs and a trip to the Mogollon cliff dwellings.