Deep in the Sierra Madre Mountains southeast of Colonia Garcia, rises the highest peak around.  It is covered with beautiful Chihuahua Pine trees. On it's ample top Geronimo, the famed Apache, made a peaceful resting place far from his pursuers and the reach of his enemies.

There are still signs that this Meadow Valley knoll was used anciently for signaling to other high peaks such as Scott's Peak, El Norte and the Moctezuma Mountain. From this prominence a ridge runs east for a few miles then turns south forming the continental divide in that part of the Seirra Madre.

On the north side of this ridge just under the Meadow Valley Knoll, a little trickle of water begins in a little meadow surrounded with heavy timber and flows northeast into a series of beautiful meadows that form Meadow Valley. This valley is where Enos and John Wood grazed their cattle and beloved horses. This trickle of water steadily increases through Meadow Valley and becomes the headwaters of the Piedras Verdes River Which flows through Hop Valley, Pacheco, Cave Valley, Colonia Juarez, and on through the Casas Grandes valley on down through Ascencion and finally empties into Lake Guzman..

On the south side of this ridge there is a wide, open valley which was anciently covered with dwellings of an unknown peaceful people. Their houses gradually crumbled into small mounds of earth leaving no story of the inhabitants. This is Mound Valley where a little stream of water begins running south through the valley and turns west as it emerges and crosses the main road from Garcia to Chuhuichupa. This stream is the headwaters of the legendary and romantic Gavilan River. From there this stream tumbles through a rugged canyon west and emerges into q gradually opening valley on the eastern side of the south end of the "Blues". It passes under the eastern shadow of Bull Peak where the early settlers found the biggest White Tailed bucks and the fattest Turkey Gobblers. In the early days this is where the Allred Ranch was situated and later one of the biggest Lumber Sawmills operated for many years. It is still called "El Colorado".

As the Gavilan  turns through the Colorado in a big arc it runs north through a beautiful river valley supplying  life-giving moisture to the plants and trees along the way. This valley is high in the timbered Sierra Madre where one can drink in the peace and beauty of the land. Here the canyon is not deep and affords good grazing on the surrounding country. When I was a boy this part of the Gavilan was adorned with tall majestic pines and the stream was full of the Yaqui Rainbow Trout and was one of the favorite places to camp and fish and hunt.

All along the way the river gathers water from the little streams running in from both sides draining the Gavilan Basin on it's way. Farther north  the river runs through "Las Amarillas". This valley in the rainy season fills up with a sea of yellow flowers, hence the name. For many years Elvin Whetten had a ranch house there by the beautiful spring of water and the large Weeping Willow Trees.

Farther north the Gavilan, now a good sized river, runs through "The Verde". This has been the place for the central ranch house for many years for the ranchers that run their cattle in this area. From the Verde the Gavilan runs through "La Mesilla" before dropping into the deeper canyon above the falls. Above and below the falls and the Streams that flow into the Gavilan is the area dreamed about by the avid trout fishermen of the Gavilan. Here and farther north is where Clarence Lunt and other hunting guides from Pacheco came to camp with their hunting parties. Here the famous Daiblo Trail drops into the Gavilan just above where the Diablo Canyon comes in.  A little farther north is the Leopold Camp with it's nostalgic story that is among the very few that have been written. about the Gavilan as it was before and after.

If the Gavilan could give us the unrecorded stories of the centuries of travelers, ancient and modern, who quenched their thirst with it's water and ate trout from it's cold ripples and felt the peace and healing of it's environment, it would be a video worth watching or would fill volumes of history. Even for me to record the wonderful experiences that I have had along the Gavilan would take much too long, but the romantic memories are there and stir little longings to return to the Gavilan.

After its journey north the Gavilan makes a sweeping bend around the north end of the "Blues". Ah!!! This is the place that is filled with History and stories of all kinds. Too many to relate but the river saw it all. This is where Elvin Whetten raised his family along with his cattle and gave them the rich heritage and love of the mountains and their love of their home on the Gavilan River.

This is where the Gavilancito runs into the Gavilan and adds to it's ever growing stream. This is where Don Jesus Villa raised his family along with the Mendoza family. From here the Gavilan runs south collecting the water of the streams that run in from both sides. Some of the names of the more famous are Las Gruacamayas, Las Gueras, Los Estribos, El Zorrillo, La Cebadilla, and La Trucha. All of which are good trout streams. The Gavilan collects the water from both sides of the Blues as it completely circles them on three sides. On the west it flows south the full length of the Blues and finally turns west  as Trout Creek joins with it's flow.

Trout Creek heads on the northwest side of Bull Peak and runs all the way down west to drop into the Gavilan right where it turns west to flow into Three Rivers.

All along the Gavilan River there are signs of an ancient civilization with many sites of dwellings and cave dwellings. The whole river bottom was terraced, where ever possible, at one time. Many of the ancient terraces are still visible after so many years of erosion.  The Old Burgos Ranch was a special place for us to go hunting and camping every year. There are still no roads into it. We would travel the Three Rivers road past the Whetten ranch and turn off on top above the Gavilan just before the main road drops into Three Rivers. We called this camp El Campo Santo because there was an ancient grave yard there. It is high on a landscaped level place on the side of the hill. The graves are in rows surrounded by rocks and trees. What a beautiful place to be buried, high on a mountain side over looking  the Gavilan Canyon  with the shining water of the river winding down along the green canyon bottom and between towering cliffs.. We would leave our vehicles there and pack our camp down into the ranch on pack mules. We would spend a week riding the country hunting and enjoying the beautiful Gavilan country from the bottom to the top of the Blues. When we were camped on Trout creek we would ride over to the Gavilan for a good swim. It was fun to watch the Nutrias (Mexican Otters) as they swam, dove and played in the pools of the Gavilan.

Among the many memories of trips to the Gavilan, one picture remains clear in my mind's eye. Naoma and I and all of our children and Leland Robinson and his family joined in a week's camp. We met Don Panchito Peņa with the mules and horses up on the Campo Santo. We Packed the mules and got everyone mounted ready to descend. Our youngest son Anthony was then only 6 weeks old. My wife Naoma, being a veteran of many such trips, simply wrapped our baby in a shawl tied from her shoulders in front of her and road the mule down the switchback trail to our camp on the Gavilan. Here we hunted Turkey and played in the waters of the Gavilan and enjoyed the week with our families.

Trout Creek!!! What memories are evoked by that enchanted place. Nearly every summer for 30 years, our family spent a week camped on Trout Creek. Usually with invited guests and other families. We would drive from Dublan over the north end of the Blues and leave the vehicles at La Cebadilla. We usually arrived there on Monday about noon and hurriedly pack up the mules and got everyone mounted and take the trail to our favorite camp on Trout Creek. Some times there were not enough riding animals for everyone to ride. In that case those who knew the trail would go on foot and usually arrive first at camp. The trail led passed the old Carrizo Cabin and down through the canyon passing the Anapara (Fire Bee) nest and along the narrow trail on the very steep side hill finally dropping into trout creek. We usually arrived about sundown to set up camp. All hands were busy setting up camp. Unpack the mules and bell and hobble the mare and lead horses leaving the mules loose and send them out to graze, set up tents and kitchen flies, get a fire going and prepare supper. For beds we used 3 inch covered rubber foam mats that we carried rolled very tight on top of the pack boxes on each side of a pack. With a sleeping bag this made a good bed.

By sun up the next morning we would have 40 or 50 trout on the grill sizzling in butter for breakfast. Nothing tastes better than Trout fried in butter that have just been pulled out of the cold clear waters of Trout Creek. All the family know how to catch Trout both the Girls and the boys. Many times they outdid their Dad. On occasion the cook would pride himself on having one grill filled with Trout, another with fried Turkey breast and another with tenderloin of Venison.

After Breakfast we would use the excuse of going swimming to ride the country to Black Canyon one day and to the Gavilan the next. Those on foot would use the pack mules for riding on these trips to see the country.  

In addition to these family trips we usually had 1 or 2 Explorer Scout groups come from the USA and with the help of my boys we would take them for a weeks pack trip in the Sierra Madre. Through the years we have taken groups that come from St. Louis Missouri to California and states in between.

My Brother Donn was a very zealous Scoutmaster. Many times he has taken his scouts up over the south end of the Blues and camped between the falls on Trout Creek.  For their ten mile hike he would take them from their camp all the way down Trout creek to where the Gavilan and Trout Creek join and on down to where the Three Rivers meet. By the time they got back to camp they knew they had been on a hike. It is closer to 8 miles down and 8 miles back. On the way back it is up hill all the way.

Back to the rivers that make up Three Rivers. After the three rivers join they turn into the big "Rio Bavispe". At the place where the three rivers join the Gavilan runs in from the East. From the south the Arco River runs in. This river is made of 3 main streams. The beautiful Chuhuichupa River heads on the south of Chuhuichupa  starting on the north side of the Candelaria Mountains.  It flows through Chuhuichupa going north. On its course north it picks up the famous trout streams such as: the San Juan De Dios, the Chuchupate, the Banderas and the Toro. When it reaches the south end of the Blues, just under Bull Peak, it turns west  and runs past the Huerta, Cuarenta Casas, El Venado and passes the Huerfano on the north side to meet the Black Canyon River. These two join and flow on west past Las Alazanas to join the Arco River just above San Juan. As they join they become the Arco and flow north into the point where the three rivers join.

The third River Runs in from the West and is called "El Arroyo de la Cueva". This river drains the country south of La Mesa de Tres Rios and the country towards El Pico de la India. In the rainy season these rivers run a lot of water and the Bavispe carries it on down to the towns in Sonora of Cobora, Huachinera, Bavispe and others. It forms part of the river system that waters the coastal plains of Sonora and produces more than any other river in Mexico.

This is only a part of the romance of the Gavilan River. I know that history is written according to the historian consequently each person who enjoyed being on the Gavilan can write a different story. They might be of bear attacks or of rustlers or of romantic love stories. These are a few of my memories of the Gavilan and the Creeks that run into it.

S. Keith Bowman, August 9, 2001