Black Gap WMA: Hiking

Phone: (432) 376-2216
55 miles south of Marathon, 18mi down FM 2627
See maps and directions for specific location

Contact: Travis Smith

Dates Open: Open year round, except closed for Special Permit hunts. Contact the WMA for specific information.

Registration is required.


Hiking Permitted

Hiking is an enjoyable activity that is available in many of the Wildlife Management Areas of Texas. Since potable water is not available on many of the Wildlife Management Areas, it is a good idea to bring plenty of drinking water.

Fishing (Rio Grande only): No closed season except during special permit hunts on October 16-27, November 25-December 10, December 25-30, 2006 January 9-12, 2007. Anglers may access the Rio Grande through the Black Gap WMA by possessing either of the access permits (APH or LPU).

The management area has over 65,000 acres that are open to hikers. The climate at Black Gap WMA is general seasonally mild in the fall and the short winter months and brutally hot between May and September. It is recommended that hikers carry a minimum of a gallon of water per person each day. Because there are generally 275-300 sunny days per year, a strong sun block is also highly recommended.

There are two Mexican mountain ranges, the Sierra del Carmen's and the Sierranias del Burro's that enter the property. Both of these ranges are limestone with steep slopes and winding canyons. The higher ridges of the Sierra del Carmen's are approximately 4,600 feet high. The dominate vegetation varies from scrub mesquite, whitebrush, lechuguilla, and various cacti at the base to oaks, juniper, fragrant ash, and giant white yuccas on the higher slopes. The topography and the associated vegetation combine to offer hikers an excellent experience. It is possible that a person could catch a glimpse of a resident black bear. The Sierranias del Burro's are found on both sides of the Rio Grande. These mountains are more rugged that the "del Carmen's" with greater elevation changes between the bases and the summits, although their actual height above sea level varies from 2,200 to 3,665 feet. The mountains are also drier in climate. The vegetation consists of mesquite; catclaw mimosa & acacias; lechuguilla; false agave; guayacan; and various cacti, grasses, and forbs. Juniper and condalia in addition are found at the higher elevations. The desert bighorn sheep have done extremely well in these mountains. Because of the sheep restoration efforts, all hiking is restricted to the mountains south of Maravillas Canyon and to the river corridor in this area.

The Shurley Flat and lower Brushy Canyon are a lower desert ecosystem dominated with silty and gravely hills and open range land in the northwestern portion of the property. The major vegetation is creosote, mesquite, whitebrush, various cacti, and assorted grasses & seasonal forbs. This country abounds in wildlife, such as small mammals, deer, javelina, coyotes, foxes, insects, reptiles, and birds. Hikers can truly experience the Chihuahuan Desert hiking in this area.

Access restricted to Maravillas and Horse Canyons, Rio Grande and the headquarters campsite from March 1 to August 31.