River Reaches for Paddling and Kayaking in New Mexico

A New Mexico River Information Clearinghouse on the Internet

A number of State Parks contain interesting segments of major river stretches within them.

River stretches in this state in very remote locations should only be attempted by those parties large

enough and well-equipped and with the capacity for self rescue. In the last few years solo or small

parties have had boating accidents on both the San Juan and Rio Grande, resulting in close calls

with hypothermia and hundreds of hours spent by search and rescue teams.

After the NM State Parks Administered Sections below you will find information on the other river runs

statewide.

If you are new to this and need some safety information and knowledge of the minimum safety requirements

for life jacket wear and equipment that must be carried, please check out this link.

On all runs please be aware that aquatic nuisance species may be present.  Please do not go directly from one water

body to another without first draining and washing off your boat.  Failure to do so can cause great ecological damage.

If you are interested in the culture of the Rio Grande there a number of books.  From September 2006 to July 6, 2009 the

Santa Fe New Mexican published an occasional series called Rio Grande Voices  featuring people from the upper Rio Grande

all the way to El Paso.

 

Note: The following information is for informal recreational use only. New Mexico

Boating Safety can make no responsibility for accuracy of content.

This is a site for general information. Boaters need to be aware that conditions

may change at any time usually increasing difficulty of rapids with flood flows.

Please call area Federal BLM, State, and Local Land Management agencies,

NOAA Forecasts, USGS Water Resources, Local Parks & Recreation Departments,

Outfitters, etc. for the most up to date and most accurate information. 

Use of rivers in New Mexico are governed by a number a laws and it is

up to river runner to be aware of legal limitations on river use in New Mexico.

 

US Dept.. of the Interior -Bureau of Land Management (USBLM)

http://www.rivers.gov/

Private, Non-commercial trip information

www.adobeww.org/business/Permits

 

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Rapid ratings are subjective using the International Scale of difficulty and are mostly

based on the following dimensions Location, Hazards, Flows, Size, Partners, Remoteness,

Length/Time required, Equipment (which boat, which paddle, camping gear etc.),

Portagability, Air and Water Temperature, and Available Time

(Further details on these dimensions and terms used to describe a river and whitewater.)

 

Class I. Easy. Waves small; passages clear; no serious obstacles.

Class II. Medium.  Rapids with moderate difficulty with clear passages.

Requires experience plus fair outfit and boat.

Class III. Difficult. Waves numerous, high, irregular; rocks; eddies; rapids with

passages clear though narrow/ requiring expertise in maneuver/ scouting usually needed. 

Requires good operator and boat.

Class IV. Very Difficult.  Long rapids; waves powerful, irregular; dangerous rocks/

boiling eddies/ passages difficult to scout/ scouting mandatory first time; powerful

and precise maneuvering required.  Demands expert boatman, excellent boat and

outfit.

Class V. Extremely difficult.  Exceedingly difficult, long and violent rapids,

following each other almost without interruption; riverbed extremely obstructed;

big drops; violent current; very steep gradient; close study essential but often

difficult. Requires best man, boat and outfit suited to the situation.

Class VI.  Unrunnable.

_________________________________________________________________

NM State Parks with River Administered Sections:

RIO GRANDE LOWER NEW MEXICO- ELEPHANT BUTTE AND CABALLO LAKE STATE PARKS

The Rio Grande River just below Elephant Butte Dam to Caballo Lake (Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake

State Parks)

Very popular, mostly flatwater run with a couple of short or manageable portages when water is high

(generally Class II, II+ in difficulty but the one or two sections involved can be bottom scrapers

depending on water level).

elephant butte dam face The Grand Bureau of Reclamation Dam at Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Below the Dam at Elephant Butte Lake (Lat = 33 degrees,8.9 minutes North; Long = 107 degrees,  

12.4 minutes West) 33.152845,-107.200658 there is both State Park parking and camping (Coyote Canyon on

topographic maps) perfectfor this seasonal Rio Grande River canoe or kayak run. 

Boaters can finish up just below Willamsburg east off State Road 187 (Lat = 33 degrees, 6.2 minutes North;

Long = 107 degrees, 17.6 minutes West)  or continue on to the north end of Caballo Lake State Park.

(Check with park managers for best flows and projections).

Bureau of Reclamation El Paso District Site

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08361000

A New Mexico State Park day use entrance fee payment is good for the day use for each vehicle. 

State Park overnight camping is also great here at the old hatchery site with three sided shelters with picnic

tables, water and toilet facitities just across from the river. 

It's a great run of about 10-12 miles to Williamsburg and takes about three hours to take out at that midway point

(33.10571,-107.29772) This run is totally moving flat water Class I except for a couple of locations where low

drop temporary dams are in to back up water in the T or C area to keep water pressure flows on the hot springs

establishments. Canoes and Kayaks usually run these short uncomplicated 1-2' whitewater drops Class II once

scouted.

It's especially a popular activity during summer seasonal dam releases made from the Dam (1240 to 1200 cfs)

for the irrigators in the Hatch and Mesilla Valleys and when Caballo Lake water level is high enough for easy takeout access as the alternative to the below

Williamsburg takeout. 

Kayak on the rio grande below elephant butte dam 2009 Traveling on the Rio Grande through Truth or Consequences

The takeout at K-Cove at Caballo lake is about 23-25 miles from the start at the Dam and will take 6-7 hours.

(32.989924,-107.286129) Boaters can go further depending upon their paddling ability and whether they are having

to cope with the late afternoon up lake winds common in New Mexico. 

You can get out earlier from Seco road accessed from the west side of Caballo lake and Route 187 for a shorter 6 hour trip.

Latitude = 32.9851, Longitude = -107.3042 Lat    = 32 degrees,   59.1 minutes   North Long = 107 degrees,   18.3 minutes   West

This road goes out to the lake and the termination spot is a pebble beach area suitable to takeout. 

Latitude = 32.9851, Longitude = -107.2891 Lat    = 32 degrees,   59.1 minutes   North Long = 107 degrees,   17.3 minutes   West

Rafts are generally not recommended to go all the way to Caballo Lake due to afternoon headwinds

occuring on open water before any takeout points are reached.

Some of the Elephant Butte Lake marinas offer sit-on-top kayak rentals for the day.

Sometimes a four and one-half mile canoe race is held in conjunction with the

annual Truth or Consequences/ Ralph Edwards Fiesta usually the weekend preceeding Mothers' Day.

Close rescue access first 12-14 miles.

Williamsburg used to have a company that rented kayaks and canoes. 

Check with the Truth or Consequences Chamber of Commerce.

 

RIO CHAMA HEADWATER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- HERON LAKE STATE PARK

The seasonal and very wild and remote La Puente/Upper Rio Chama Canyon whitewater run

(Class III+ to Class IV + for experienced and well equipped parties.) above El Vado Lake

from the village of Los Ojos (it runs through a portion of Heron Lake State Park and flows

into El Vado Lake State Park)

The normal 15 miles takes boaters through a deep wooded canyon with numerous rapids.

If the start is at the NM 95 bridge there will be fences and a diversion to handle according to accounts.

Off NM 112 between Los Ojos and Tierra Amarilla is a dirt road heading north that provides a low water

crossing of the Rio Chama and is an alternative put in.

Put-in point: Highway 95 Bridge, approximately one mile west of Highway 64/84, just north

of Los Ojos, NM, east bank (river left)  Elevation @ 7,275 feet. Location is just south of the junction of the Rio Brazos

and Rio Chama

Take-out point: El Vado Reservoir Boat Ramp (north end of lake accessed west of Heron Lake Dam off Highway 95)

Elevation at full reservoir @ 6,900'

Estimated Distance:  15-16 miles

Beta for this information from run by Rob Elliott and Sharon Woods of Santa Fe. Date May 25, 2009 Professional River Runners

Estimated Water Flow for Beta and Times:  1,600 cfs  About 4 hours with paddling about 80% of the time and 10 min. snack break.

Class of Run estimated for this flow rate:  Class III to Class III+

Character of the channel was clearly Class II , at least initially, and kept moving with small rapids, riffles, few and small eddies and

dangerous outside-of-the-curve strainers every half mile or so for the first few miles. At the gravel pit operations watch for occasional

installed barbed wire fence installations.  After about 3 miles the state park land is reached

and the channel changed from a braided river with frequent islands to a more incised river to a gorge that gradually deepened to an

estimated 500 vertical feet by the  take-out. The strainers fall behind but the intensity of the rapids with boulders and increased

route choices also increase and the class of the river changes for the next nine miles from Class III to Class III+.

Hugging the inside of each curve and being prepared to stop if circumstances warranted scouting on the fly was done before becoming

committed from the top, with one exception, "Big Mamma Chama" scouted from the right bank.

The crux of this trip which can contain log jams/strainer is called Big Momma Chama. Class III+

This is a drop-dead gorgeous stretch of the Chama River with interesting geology and diverse fauna (see the Heron Lake and

El Vado Lake Management Plan), including lovely mature ponderosa pines.  Birds spotted were Canada Geese, Peregrine Falcon,

and a bald eagle..

The beta came with a huge caveat... noted that they were plain stupid to launch into an unknown stretch of river with

no charting on a decent map and so late in the day (2:00pm shoveoff).  Did not take any head lamps, lighter, extra clothes and

no other boater support, a violation of common safety measures.  Considerable river experience and charm and good luck made the trip

less of an epic than would for most normal paddlers.  Starting much earlier would have allowed for enjoyment and stops vs. intense

paddling most of the time. Recommend not later start than 10 am.  Lower water at 900 to 1,000 cfs would make strainers at the

beginning more dangerous.  Islands would divide the channel so you might have to get out and scout occasionally.  At that level Big

Mamma Chama could have dangerous, undercut boulders, requiring scouting and portaging creating a doubling or more of travel time.

(robelliot@aol.com for questions)

Heron lake provides a takeout point alternative to ending at El Vado Lake for the La Puente Rio Chama Run

(Los Ojos to El Vado Lake Run).   Other River Running Information.

 

An alternative takeout at about 10 miles for paddlecraft contains a hike out with your craft that includes a stairway

on a hiking trail part of the Dominguez-Escalante Trail aka Old Spanish Trail (which connects El Vado to Heron Lake

State Park) from the Rio Chama Suspension Foot Bridge. (Check with the park for access, parking and trail conditions.

Most of the time the takeout is before the bridge. The park day use fee must be paid.)

www.oldspanishtrail.org/management.php

The last alternative takeout will be the old roadbed that goes back up to Highway 95 at Heron Reservoir Dam. It will be

a bit of a walk back up this road carrying kayaks or inflatable kayaks.

Subjective ratings:

Low level 600 cfs Class II/III. 

Moderate Level  1,000 - 1,600 cfs  Class III, Class III+

High level 3,000 cfs Class III+. 

Flood Levels at 4,000 cfs Class IV.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08284100   La Puente

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08284520   Below Heron Dam

No close rescue access.

RIO CHAMA CANYON NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- HERON /EL VADO STATE PARKS

Lower Portion of Upper Rio Chama Canyon below Heron Lake Dam. (El Vado Lake State Park) The lower

segment of this trip can be a flatwater trip suitable for sea kayaks and canoes against some upriver river current flow

depending upon time of year and El Vado Lake levels.  Just remember the trip back can be with the river flow.

It is a scenic canyon with overnight shoreline primitive camping.

Start from the El Vado Lake north access from the west end of Heron Lake State Park off highway 95

(on the way to and close to the Stone House Lodge)

Day use fees apply or primitive camping fee if going overnight in the canyon.

At full lake levels the paddling goes up into the canyon almost to the Heron Lake Dam. 

Can have a current to paddle against depending on El Vado Lake level. (The park day use fee must be paid.)

Relatively close rescue access.

SAN JUAN RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- NAVAJO LAKE STATE PARK

The San Juan River below Navajo Dam thru the State Park Run (Navajo Lake State Park) to Blanco which can

be combined with some scenic recreational developed site camping at Cottonwood Campground with some sites

within a couple hundred feet of the river (Short Class II+ sections by Simon Canyon above Cottonwood). Water is

swift moving and cold year around with normal temperatures in the low 50's. You must have someone with appropriate

fishing permits/ stamps and a fishing pole to meet the requirements of being on the river on the Quality Trout Waters

section above Cottonwood Campground.

Please be very considerate of the fishermen on this stretch. Many come from around the world just to fish these

waters and value the serenity of the waters. (The park day use fee must be paid.) If you come in from out of state

be sure to have kept your vessel dry for at least 14 days due to invasive species transfers being deadly to this blue

ribbon trout stream.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=09355500

Relatively close rescue access.

RIO GRANDE LOWER NEW MEXICO- PERCHA DAM, LEASBURG AND MESILLA STATE PARK

The Lower Rio Grande run below Percha Dam to the El Paso Texas Diversion can be done in shorter segments

using State Parks in the River Corridor as put-in and take-out locations depending upon river segment flows

that are runnable during low irrigation need times and dam releases to meet water compact requirements.

(Those going the distance should contact both Percha Dam State Park and Leasburg Dam State Park for

portage information.  No portage information is available for the El Paso Texas Diversion above El Paso.

All of these dams are considered "low head" and can pose a significant life threatening hazard. )

This run is generally no more than Class I-II+. There is a put-in access below Percha Dam for the run

to Leasburg Dam.

Percha Dam

Percha Dam

Obstruction on this stretch two miles immediately below Caballo Dam is Percha Dam. Percha Dam has an Acequia

Diversion to water the famous New Mexico Green Chile crop around and below Hatch, New Mexico. Percha Dam is

a difficult one to portage so most river runners will begin their Lower Rio Grande run below the Dam at Percha Dam

State Park.  A park day use fee is charged. 

The area around the dam and below is considered to be one of the five best birding spots in New Mexico.

 

Below Percha Dam on the river between Rincon and Hatch, New Mexico is the Railroad and Road 154 bridge. 

Just below this bridge is a fast water drop caused by material deposited in the river according to some beta.

This will require portage depending upon river flows and should be scouted before running. Any portage here has

beendescribed as being on the west side of the river due to the steepness of the banks..

(extra bow and stern lines long enough to haul boat up the bank?)

New State Park Undeveloped land, part of the Broad Canyon Ranch, is immediately adjacent to N.M. 185

about 15 miles north of the city of Las Cruces and north of the Leasburg Dam State Park. 

The property contains two of New Mexico’s most rare and threatened habitats: wetlands and riparian forest.

The land includes a 30-acre wetland known as Swan Pond and approximately one mile of riparian

forest along the Rio Grande.  The property also has access to grazing leases on an additional 4,830 acres of

Chihuahuan Desert grasslands owned by the Bureau of Land Management and the New Mexico State Land

Office, which will be leased and managed for wildlife habitat and recreation by State Parks.  The Selden

Canyon property also will be astride the route of the Rio Grande Trail, a proposed multi-use trail along the

river through New Mexico. 

The lower Rio Grande is a key ecological corridor for the northern Chihuahuan Desert, one of the world’s

most biologically significant deserts. It is a priority area for the conservation efforts of the World Wildlife

Fund (WWF), which has been working with partners Elephant Butte Irrigation District and the

U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission on a large restoration initiative known as the Rio Grande

Canalization Collaborative Project.  The partners hope to better integrate flood control, irrigation deliveries

and habitat conservation restoration along a 105-mile reach of the river from Caballo Reservoir to

American Dam, Texas, including Selden Canyon. 

”Selden Canyon is a focus area for the World Wildlife Fund because it provides a wonderful mosaic of native

river habitat including wetlands, meadows, and riparian forest” says Beth Bardwell, manager of WWF’s

Las Cruces Chihuahuan Desert Program office.  “It also has its share of exotic vegetation like salt cedar

which we hope to remove.  Broad Canyon Ranch will provide great opportunities for recreationists as well

as multiple benefits for wildlife.  World Wildlife Fund is thankful to State Parks for their pivotal role in

cquiring and managing this important land.”

 

Leasburg Dam

 Leasburg Dam

 

Leasburg Dam to the Mesilla Valley in Las Cruces at the Highway 70 bridge and Picacho River Park

is usually run during a limited sets of seasons because flows are normally diverted to the farming communities.

The first seasonal run is usually from mid-March to early May.  A second run is usually in June and July when

the Pima Cotton irrigators call for their water. Sometimes other runs can be made during the winter season after

October.  Usually a good way to check to see what the trends are and the water flow currently is to

compare the water gauge below Leasburg Dam State Park to the one at the Picacho Bridge.

These sites also allow you to check the historical record which is handy.

http://www.ebid-nm.org/wris2008/More_Info.asp?Site=Leasburg_River_CableMore_Info

http://www.ebid-nm.org/wris2008/More_Info.asp?Site=Picacho_River

Lowest flow rates for canoes and kayaks are about 950 cfs.  Best runs are above 1200 cfs.

This stretch is part of the Southwest Environmental Center's and Las Cruces Community June Raft the Rio.

This is a volunteer run event www.wildmesquite.org or 575-522-5552 or info@wildmesquite.org.

This year's 13th Annual Raft the Rio was a resounding success. On Saturday, June 12, more than 160 boats and several hundred sailors braved a fierce headwind to float the 3-mile course down the Rio Grande from the Picacho to Mesilla Bridge. The homemade vessels demonstrated the usual outstanding creativity in their design and use of “recycled” materials. Alas, some of them were “lost at sea.” Hopefully their crews will be back to try their luck next year. (Tip: cardboard is not the best boat-making material.)

Kayaks are preferred due to shallower draft and ease of paddling.

Not recommended for rafts due to shallow water and sand bars.

This is a scenic trip with views of the Robledo Mountains and has only a few homes visible from the river in a

couple of areas. Leasburg Dam Put-In is a state park which charges a day use fee. 

Access to the Day Use area is by using the Leasburg Dam Road adjacent to NM 185 and Fort Selden Road. 

Follow the Leasburg Dam Road north to the Day Use area self-pay station is just before taking the

left hand turn to the day use area with picnic shelters and toilets. 

If coming in from I-25 the entrance to the day use area is not the first turn one would take for the main

Leasburg Dam visitor center and campgrounds on Richard Cooper Road. Continue to just before NM 185

to access the turn to Leasburg Dam Road.

Launching is usually done from the southwest side of the picnic grounds to avoid the direct river current. 

Park Day Use area closes at 7 pm or sunset so plan your river running times accordingly so your

vehicle is not locked in. 

This run to the Highway 70/ Picacho St. Bridge and River Park (southeast side of the bridge) takes about

5-6 paddling hours and poses few hazards other than debris piles at bridge abutments like at NM 185 bridge 

below the put-in (@1000'), the Shalem Colony Trail Road Bridge and the occasional bottoming out. 

The run can be shortened by about 2 hours by taking out at the Shalem Colony Trail Road Bridge.

Takeouts are on the east bank at both the Shalem Colony Trail Road Bridge and Picacho St. Bridge/River Park.

Picacho St Bridge Access to Mesilla Valley State Park.  The final New Mexico Rio Grande run can continue thru Las Cruces into the lower Mesilla Valley with it's Pecan Groves,

the Mesilla Valley State Park on the west bank of the Rio Grande and the low head dam at NM 374 at Mesilla Dam.

Mesilla Valley State Park to El Paso.  Below this area the run is minimal with no beta but it has controlled livestock feedlot operations and more agriculture

to the American Diversion and Dam. The American diversion takes out about another 200 cfs from the river for use

by Mexican farmers cross border.

http://www.ebid-nm.org/wris2008/index.asp

Others...

A few state parks have some off the beaten path river trips as that are strictly seasonal. It is recommended to

scout the actual route on the ground in combination with looking at recent satellite imagrey for possible locations

of strainers, debris piles and community water diversions.

NAVAJO RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- NAVAJO LAKE STATE PARK

One such example is the 25 mile Navajo River run from Dulce New Mexico that during high water runs into Navajo

Lake and Navajo Lake State Park that only gets water when the Azotea Trans Basin Tunnel is full. It bears

scouting the entire route. The river above the lake is not administered by New Mexico State Parks.

marcel Bieg from San Juan community college on navajo Lake

PECOS RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- PROPOSED PECOS RIVER STATE PARK, RUN TO VILLANUEVA STATE PARK

Mixed whitewater run down the Pecos River from the proposed Pecos River State Park to Villanueva State Park No Beta

PECOS RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO-VILLANUEVA STATE PARK DOWN TO TECOLOTITO

Villanueva State Park down is done usually a spring runoff if you get one. Usually for experienced intermediate

paddlers. No beta.

tECOLOTITO down to Santa Rosa Lake State Park, the latter requiring a flatwater paddle out to the

boat ramp at Santa Rosa Lake. Beta information is not available at this time.

See the Lake State Parks found on this link for further information on running and access for many of these

portions including flows.

 Always consult for latest local conditions and seasonal hazards such as low head dams, diversion wiers for irrigation, trees

that act as person or equipment strainers on the sides of the river or in river debris piles, or rapids. Water levels can be found

on instant River Gauging Stations by the US Geological Survey

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/rt 

http://nm.water.usgs.gov/infodata/gmap-realtimesw.html

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Other major river stretches in the state that are runable are handled by permit with either the US Forest Service

or the US Bureau of Land Management and recently added, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Some require no permits or self permits. Access to some stretches may be restricted by Pueblos or

by US Fish and Wildlife and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

ANIMAS RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

- The Animas River from Aztec to Farmington and the San Juan River into Farmington that is a good daily with a number

of good put in points with only a couple of portages. 

Flows vary difficulty of the runs and the City of Farmington has developed a set of rapids for a kayak play area.  

Beta on it is best from the San Juan Community College Outdoor Recreation Program which also rents out equipment.    

Map link here.       Photos here.

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - GENERAL

These sections are for well experienced rafters and whitewater kayakers for the most part with a short section available as

a 1/2 day in the Orilla Verde BLM Recreation Area and the Velarde all day run.  In all cases GPS locations are provided

for general reference only and not for navigation purposes. (Check your waypoints for your own GPS map base!)

Map is found on the BLM Wild Rivers Recreation Area brochure in the link below.

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nm/programs/recreation/rec_docs.Par.51590.File.dat/RioGrVisGd.pdf

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - COLORADO TO LEE TRAIL

The "Colorado Lobatos Bridge to New Mexico Lee Trail" aka "Ute Mountain" Run, One day,  24 Miles  600-900 CFS

  Isolated area with few campsites , great wildlife and a tough, steep climb for lite canoes and kayaks out to the take-out

at Lee Trail . Class II-III. (closed April 1 - May 31 to protect nesting birds) Put in at Lobatos Bridge - 15 miles E of Antonito,

Colorado on County Road G/142

( Put-In general location: Latitude = 37.0783, Longitude = -105.7578/ Lat= 37 degrees, 

4.7 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   45.5 minutes   West  /

Take Out general location: Latitude = 36.8638, Longitude = -105.7054   Lat    = 36 degrees,   51.8 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   42.3 minutes   West )

Do not miss thetake-out or you end up in the experts run of the Upper Box/Razorblades.  The trail out is some 1/3 mile

in length andgoes up over 200 vertical feet in elevation.

Isolated, no immediate rescue access. 

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - LEE OR SUNSHINE TRAILS TO UPPER BOX

The extreme superior experts only Upper Rio Grande "Razorblades" run from the Sunshine Trail to the start of the

"Upper Box"  Experts only section Class II and III first few miles then long Class IV.  The Upper Box run is

Class V-VI.  Translated...unrunnable by most experts except at low to moderate flows. Life extinguishing if attempted

on other water flow levels.  Some runs may be evaluated and even portaged instead of run. Check in with BLM before

attempting this run and for the status of the take-out trails which have washed out from time to time.

Isolated, no immediate rescue access

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - UPPER BOX 

The "La Junta" run is a pack-in section of the Upper Box from Cebolla Mesa Campground accessed from the

BLM Wild Rivers Recreation Area . Mostly Class II with one Class III about 8.5 miles

from the put-in.  Pack-in distance about 850 foot elevation loss and a trail distance of . NOTE THIS IS RAW BETA NOT CHECKED

( Put-In general location: Latitude = 36.8124, Longitude = -105.6959 Lat    = 36 degrees,   48.7 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   41.8 minutes   West   /

Take Out general location: Latitude = 36.5363, Longitude = -105.7086 Lat    = 36 degrees,   32.2 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   42.5 minutes   West )

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - JOHN DUNN BRIDGE TO TAOS JUNCTION BRIDGE

The "Taos Box" run is the next 17 miles.  It is the most well known whitewater run in the state located within the

isolated black, lava walls of the 1,000 foot deep Rio Grande Gorge. The gradient profile of the river in the Box begins

with two miles of fairly gentle drops (Class I-II) to Manby Hot Springs aka Stagecoach (L), then nine miles of

approximate 35 ft. per mile gradient (Class II-IV) Ski Jump Rapid (III+), High Bridge (III), Yellow Band (III+) Dead Car (III+), culminating in five miles of approximate 55 ft. per mile (Class IV-IV+). This latter section, beginning at the precipitous

Powerline Falls(Class III+, IV ) includes almost continuous whitewater in the following Rio Bravo section (Class III-IV),

through drops with names like Pinball, Rock Garden, Buzz Saw, The Cleaver, Boatreamer, The Gut, Punk Rock,

Screaming Lefthand Turn, Boulder Field, Screaming Right Turn. and Sunset aka Taos Junction Rapid about .2 mile

before the Taos Junction Bridge. Isolated, no immediate rescue access. Put in at John Dunn Bridge and takeout at

Taos Junction Bridge.

( Put-In general location: Latitude = 36.5363, Longitude = -105.7086 Lat    = 36 degrees,   32.2 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   42.5 minutes   West   /

Take Out general location: Latitude = 36.3358, Longitude = -105.7338 Lat    = 36 degrees,   20.1 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   44.0 minutes   West )

Isolated, no immediate rescue access

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - TAOS JUNCTION BRIDGE TO ORILLA VERDE RIO BRAVO CAMPGROUND

The "Orilla Verde" or "Bosque" section (formerly known among guides as the State Park Run) runs thru the

Orilla Verde National Recreation Area to the takeout before the town of Pilar,about 5 miles.  This trip traverses the

relatively calm water of the Orilla Verde section generally Class I-II. The two major Class II rapids are Gauging Station

about 2 miles from the start and "S Turn" almost 2 miles later. Close rescue access. Put in at Taos Junction Bridge and

takeout at Rio Bravo Campground.  A day use fee is charged.

( Put-In general location: Latitude = 36.3358, Longitude = -105.7338 Lat    = 36 degrees,   20.1 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   44.0 minutes   West /

Take Out general location: Latitude = 36.2920, Longitude = -105.7818 Lat    = 36 degrees,   17.5 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   46.9 minutes   West )

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nm/programs/recreation/rec_docs.Par.57902.File.dat/OVREC_Broch.pdf

Relatively close rescue access.

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - PILAR TO RACE COURSE TAKEOUT

The "Race Course" below the town of Pilar is a six mile section of intense swift whitewater Class III to Class IV+ depending

on water level, with rapids named beginning .5 mile from the Put-In for almost a mile:  Albert Falls, Herringbone,

Eye of the Needle, Boulder Field, Narrows and Dead Foot that are all Class III at low flow rates but become continuous

Class IV at high flows.  In two miles from the start is Glen Woody Bridge a possible hazard at high flow levels. 

Two tenths mile further is Big Rock (III), three tenths later is Sleeping Beauty (III) culminating with only three miles

from the Put-in the notorious Sousehole (III+,IV at higher flows).In 2005 the flows went to 6000 cfs at the end of May

with over 50% of the rafts hitting this hole flipping.

Relatively close rescue access depending on which side of the river you end up on to State Highway 68. 

( Put-In general location: Latitude = 36.2660, Longitude = -105.7945 Lat    = 36 degrees,   16.0 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   47.7 minutes   West /

Take Out general location: Latitude = 36.2298, Longitude = -105.8568 Lat    = 36 degrees,   13.8 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   51.4 minutes   West )

NOTE: man-made hazard on this stretch is the Glen Woody Bridge (Latitude = 36.2460, Longitude = -105.8253 Lat    = 36 degrees,   14.8 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   49.5 minutes   West)  Persons have been severely hurt trying to do the run under the bridge with insufficient clearance.

Relatively close rescue access.

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO -

The "Velarde" Run .  A good run for open canoeists and novice kayakers that is usually Class I throughout and II+

in a few short sections due to sharp turns and short wave setups. With adequate flows the scenery is great.

 (General Location Put-In: Latitude = 36.2300, Longitude = -105.8568 Lat    = 36 degrees,   13.8 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   51.4 minutes   West  

Take-Out General Location: There is a diversion dam hazard that is portaged usually from the west bank and is usually

where the trip ends.  Latitude = 36.1810, Longitude = -105.9783 Lat    = 36 degrees,   10.9 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   58.7 minutes   West )

RIO GRANDE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO -

The Rio Grande from Lyden Bridge to Espanola Run Beta here notes diversions and fences...not recommended.

If anyone else has other information please e-mail state parks boating safety. 

(General Location Put-In: State Road 582 Bridge   Latitude = 36.1461, Longitude = -105.9981 Lat    = 36 degrees,   8.8 minutes   North Long = 105 degrees,   59.9 minutes   West

Take-Out General Location: State Road 369 Bridge Latitude = 35.9882, Longitude = -106.0748 Lat    = 35 degrees,   59.3 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   4.5 minutes   West )

Relatively close rescue access.

Beginner river runners should consult with the Bureau of Land Management in Taos for each section for status of put in and take out locations and suitable river flows.

http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/taos/river_segments_rio.html

RIO CHAMA  NORTHERN NEW MEXICO BELOW EL VADO RESERVOIR TO ABOVE ABIQUIU RESERVOIR

The Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River below El Vado Lake State Park and Dam to just above Abiquiu Reservoir suitable

for most canoes, kayaks and rafts and generally taken as a two to three day camping on the river trip in a beautiful forested

deep canyon for over 23 miles to the Chama Canyon Campground Takeout or on for the greater Class II+ to Class III+ section

to the Big Eddy takeout 8 miles later. depending on water levels and takeout. Rapids from the put in are Eagle Bend, Rio Nutrias,

Sleeper Canyon, Aragon Canyon, Dark Canyon , Mine Canyon, (Chavez Canyon  Campground Takeout ) Ganada de la Presa,

Skull Bridge aka Ganada de las Fuertes, Gauging Station, Scream Right, Scream Left , and Big Eddy Drop In. Once you spot the

Monastery of Christ in the Desert you are about 2.5 miles from the Chavez Canyon Campground takeout on the east side of the river

(going downstream it's on you left). Continuing on gives you the Chavez Canyon Campground to Big Eddy Daily Run.

General Location Put-In at El Vado Ranch off NM 112 :

Latitude = 36.5826, Longitude = -106.7283 Lat    = 36 degrees,   35.0 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   43.7 minutes   West 

Take-Out General Location Forest Road 151 off Highway 84 Chavez Canyon Campground: 

Latitude = 36.3643, Longitude = -106.6811 Lat    = 36 degrees,   21.9 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   40.9 minutes   West 

Permitted river running only for both private and commercial parties in the Wild and Scenic River Section .

There is a well regarded river guide published by the Public Lands Interpretive Association for this river.

Isolated, no immediate rescue access.

http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/taos/river_segments_rio.html

 

RIO CHAMA  NORTHERN NEW MEXICO ABOVE ABIQUIU RESERVOIR  CHAVEZ CANYON CAMPGROUND/BIG EDDY DAILY RUN

Short Daily trip is from the Chavez Canyon Put-In just about 2 miles before Forest Road 115 dead ends at the Monastery of Christ

in the Desert to the Big Eddy Take out which give you about an 8 mile run with the greater portion consiting of kayak play rapids

Class II+ to Class III (Skull Bridge aka Ganada de las Fuertes, Gauging Station, Scream Right, Scream Left , and Big Eddy Drop In .)   This run does not require a permit.

 

RIO CHAMA NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - ABIQUIU RESERVOIR  DAM TO ESPANOLA

No beta on this segment but a number of weirs for local water diversions are present and a hazard.  There is an dirt access road that

be accessed just before Abiquiu Dam that goes down the dam face to its base and local put-in and take outs for some short practice

runs..  This dirt access road runs the west side of the river quickly deteriorates but pretty much follows the riverwith a couple of

exceptions all the way to the Town of Abiquiu.  It is a rough road and can be impassable after rains.

 

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - ESPANOLA TO COCHITI LAKE

The Rio Grande from below Espanola and the Otowi Bridge to Cochiti Lake (aka White Rock Canyon run) 

Class II+ , III  which was usually done as an overnight trip on the river.  Now with the upper access in Espanola this

timing may be different depending on river flows. Instead of an easy overnight of about 23 miles from the Otowi Bridge,

the trip demands a very early start from Espanola if you are considering covering the approximately 33 mile distance to

the take out at Cochiti Lake in a couple of days. Usually run from 1,100 cfs to 2,500 cfs.

Water levels have gone as high as 6,000-8,000 cfs! Standing waves will be extreme at these levels-up to 6' in height!

At high water levels also scout all bridges!  Isolated, no immediate rescue access.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/uv/?site_no=08313000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

Lower levels will increase the number of Class II sections and high levels can create high standing waves over 6' in height!

With a little planning though you might have a celebratory ending at either of the two campgrounds at the US Army Corps

of Engineers managed Cochiti Lake Dam. (You may spare the two hour paddle down the lake by linking up with one of the boaters

willing to tow you to the ramps. Check information on this with the Corps Cochiti Dam Management Office. A day use launch ramp fee

is charged for all vessels including paddlecraft. )

Doing a portion of this trip as a 20 mile day trip run depends on access from a long dirt road called the Buckman road

accessed by the Santa Fe Relief road (aka Veterans Memorial Highway) State Road 599. Access after rains on this road

is not recommended.  The Buckman Road is reached by exiting 599 at Camino La Tierra heading NW past Las Campanas

till the split take place with Buckman Road going right and Clubhouse Road going left. It's then over 9 miles to the river.

Its been a while since the beta on this trip has been checked but our information says that the Otowi Bridge

(State Road 502 bridge over the Rio Grande going over to Los Alamos) is no longer an allowable put-in.  This means

that if the optional one day run from Buckman Road above is not done, your long multi day option begins at a put-in at Espanola

off the 369 State Route Road Bridge on the west side of the Rio Grande accessed by the South Santa Clara Bridge Road.This makes a 13 mile run from Espanola to the Otowi Bridge passing by both Santa Clara and San Idlefonso Pueblo.

The next roughly 13 miles from Otowi Bridge goes thru White Rock Canyon to the entry to Bandelier National Monument

and the two mile long trail out to Frijoles Canyon and it's Upper and Lower Frijoles Falls to the Monument visitor center.

http://www.americansouthwest.net/pdf/bandelier-area-map.pdf

 

Photographs of Bandelier National Monument

Rio Grande and Junction with Frijoles Trail Bandelier National Monument.

-About 200 yards past Otowi Bridge is the first rapid. 

-In about 2-1/2 miles another short Class II stretch opens the canyon

out to the Buckman Road area and it's little rapid set coming in just

before seeing Buckman Road's end in about 3 miles on the east side of the river. 

-You then enter the 1,000 foot deep White Rock Canyon with the community of White Rock

with their homes on the west ridge of the Canyon.

-In another 2 miles Pajarito Canyon comes in with it's clear creek and pools

and grassy banks making for great camping.  A well marked trail leads up to the

homes on the south rim.

-About a mile further is Water Canyon and the Gate, which has a rock gate entrance

followed by Class III with standing waves.

-Soon after in about 1-1/2 miles with Chino Mesa off to the east, Ancho Canyon from

Los Alamos comes in and Ancho Rapid, about 300 'of Class III that cuts thru to the west. 

Ancho Rapid could be portaged on the west bank depending on the water level.

- Bandelier National Monument on the west side of the river continues past this point to Frijoles Canyon.  

(Falls Trail; From the junction of Frijoles Creek with the Rio Grande, passing two dramatic

waterfalls and much interesting scenery. )

- Just below is Frijoles Rapid is a major rapid Class III that bears scouting.

- From there it is another 9 miles of generally easy travel to Cochiti Lake and another 2 miles of paddling

(If you did not make arrangements for a tow) to the take out at Tetilla Peak Recreation area

on the east side of the lake with it's ramp.

- From the Tetilla Peak launch ramp it is another 1/2 mile to the take out at the main ramp on the west

side of the lake.

Be sure and take a Satellite Personal Tracker (SPOT), Personal Location Beacon (PLB) or Satellite phone in case of emergency. 

Cell phones have a difficulty operating in the deep White Rock Canyon. It is highly recommended that you travel in a

team for self rescue should the need arise.

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - COCHITI LAKE DAM TO BERNALILLO

Cochiti Dam to Bernalillo River Run. Below Cochiti Dam the Rio Grande continues south on what has been listed

in the past as a Class I float trip passing thru the Bosque.  Indian Pueblos in this reach do not allow access to the

river on their reservations and also out of full respect for cultural values you are not allowed to photograph any

portion of their community or individuals.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District runs from this section in Sandoval County for about 150 miles downstream.

Go to www.mrgcd.com and click on left hand side "Forms/Applications" take the "License Application"  which can

be filled out on line and has to currently be paid to access the Ditch system.

This reach continues to the Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam listed at the start of the next run.

Takeout on the Southeast Bank before the unrunnable high hazard dam and diversion inlets.

There are no public access points to the river below or downstream of Cochiti dam (even near Army Corps facilities). 

So the stretch of river on Cochiti land below the dam is inaccessible and therefore no river navigation theoretically

should occur.  The Director of the Cochiti Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is currently working on

several management plans including those that address public access to their lands for fishing and other recreation. 

They are putting the heaviest emphasis on the reservoir property for public recreation since much of it is already

developed. Jacob Pecos, Director, Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, Pueblo de Cochiti

(505) 465-3123 Ext. 123 voice (505) 465-1997 fax  www.pueblodecochiti.org/guide.html (Web link).  If you wish to

review some of the changes in their culture, the Santa Fe New Mexican Monday, July 6, 2009 provided it's final install-

ment of Rio Grande Voices which focused on Pueblo Governor Floyd Pecos and life around the river.

Obstacles on this route from Cochiti Dam to Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam:

-Cochiti Spillway/NM 22 (Latitude = 35.6179, Longitude = -106.3251 Lat    = 35 degrees,   37.1 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   19.5 minutes   West)

-Santo Domingo Pueblo Bridge/Indian Highway 88. (Latitude = 35.5274, Longitude = -106.3739 Lat    = 35 degrees,  

31.6 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   22.4 minutes   West)

-San Felipe Pueblo Bridge/Indian Highway 85 (Latitude = 35.4401, Longitude = -106.4428 Lat    = 35 degrees,  

26.4 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   26.6 minutes   West)

the Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam west of road 313  a few miles north of the Santa Ana Pueblo (Latitude = 35.3797, Longitude = -106.4981 / Lat    = 35 degrees,   22.8 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   29.9 minutes   West)  Access is controlled. Albuquerque Office of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District 505-247-0234 Joe Brem.

Comparison of water levels involve the discharge at Cochiti Dam and downstream at San Felipe to determine runnability.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08317400   Cochiti Dam

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08319000   San Felipe

 

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - ANGOSTURA / BERNALILLO TO NORTH CORRALES

Bernalillo-Albuquerque Rio Grande River Run.  This highly scenic and popular run thru the Bosque can be

done in a very long day to the Albuquerque takeout at the Rio Bravo Bridge. Class I and II.

Usually completely done during good water flows in early season during May and June with only a

few hazards of the bridge pilings, jetty jacks, and tree strainers mostly along the sides of the river channel

(though parts of old jetty jacks occasionally show up in the channel proper as well as debris piles). In winter

with proper clothing for the water temperature, the flows may be high enough after snow or rain events from

the US 550 bridge in Bernalillo Access to Alameda Foot Bridge/ NM 528 Bridge Access to allow for a run

in shallow drafting kayaks but expect to select the wrong channel once or twice making it necessary for you

to get out in the water..wear neoprene booties.

Runnable flows are usually down to 800-900 cfs. Not recommended flow time periods are usually from late July,

August,September and October when water is taken out of the Rio Grande for irrigation purposes.

Most of the west side of the river in the stretch below Bernalillo has public or conservancy district lands

and on the east side are mostly the lands of Sandia Pueblo. 

Please respect the pueblo's privacy and do not access their property. 

(The start at the Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam in early season sometimes can be run with assistance

from the good hosts of the Town of Bernalillo's Coronado Campground which has a special access arrangement

to the river and the put in above Bernalillo. Otherwise the start is from the US 550 bridge access or just above

it through the Coronado Campground which offers a bit more vehicle security thru the day for the small day

use fee. With the Campground help you can do a short daily run to the Corrales irrigation diversion channel.

505-768-3631)

Comparison of water data for this run involves looking at the upstream gauge and the downstream gauge to

get an idea of the water taken out for irrigation purposes along the way.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?08329928

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/uv/?site_no=08329918&PARAmeter_cd=00010,00095

For typical years you can get an idea for monthly averages here:

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/dvstat/?site_no=08329928&por_08329928_2=558891,00060,2

Entry-take-out points going south of Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam are:

- the Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam Access west of road 313  a few miles north of the Santa Ana

Pueblo (Latitude = 35.3797, Longitude = -106.4999 / Lat    = 35 degrees,   22.8 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   30.0 minutes   West)  Access is controlled. Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District 505-247-0234 Joe Brem

. Angostura Dam Diversion

Angostura/Algodones Diversion Dam -  The right (east) side of this diversion in the photo is the parking for  accessing the put-in

but could be a bit further if the gate is closed by about 200 yards.  Small children should be watched as the walk across

the top of the diversion is open metal rail fence.  It's wide enough to take kayaks and canoes across to the left side of the

photo and then you go about another 100 yards to a path leading back down to the river.  Portage of this dam from those coming

upriver of this location would probably do better exiting and portaging from the west side of the river .

 

- south of Angostura the river has a few minor riffles/Class II waves until just before the US 550 bridge

where there is a set of old wooden pilings from an old roadbed to avoid.  (The pilings are just far enough apart

to catch debris and should be assessed before running but most years should be clear enough for most kayaks and

canoes.)  Just after the pilings on the west side of the river is and the Coronado State Monument/ Coronado

Campground Access just west and north of the  US 550 bridge in Bernalillo. The site is accessed with a

parking day use fee 505-980-8256 ( Latitude = 35.3267, Longitude = -106.5573 Lat    = 35 degrees,  

19.6 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   33.4 minutes   West), They have a nice parking lot by the north

Campground area with a nearby restroom. The walk in to the river is about 150 yards when the river is high and

involves a short grade drop at the start by a concrete culvert and a walk thru the tamarisk and willows to

the river proper. At low water this may involve about another 60 yards to get to the river from the side

channel used at high water.  Once in the river be prepared to keep away from another old bridge abutment situated

in the center of the river flow directly under the new US 550 bridge (Scout this as it could be a covered

obstacle during very high water flows) Some rebar is protruding from this obstacle.

Time from Angostura to Coronado State Monument/Campground - US 550 Bridge is about 2 hours.

- the US 550 bridge in Bernalillo Access is via the east side, 300 yard walk-in from the northeast side

of the bridge (Latitude = 35.3218, Longitude = -106.5554 Lat    = 35 degrees,   19.3 minutes  

North Long = 106 degrees,   33.3 minutes   West), Run at 850 CFS. Hit the bottom only twice during the

hour run via shallow draft kayak. . River was at about 850 CFS. Two old jetty jack parts were in the river

about midway in this river reach section and could really gouge a canoe or kayak but were easily avoidable.

A couple of short Class II wave sections are in this reach with the last one just before the take-out.


Time to the next Access at the north end of Corrales is about one to one and on-half hours.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&geocode=&ie=UTF8&om=1&msa=0&msid=109808405620384462076.00045f780cd9b7dff9e67&ll=35.297334,-106.572876&spn=0.072434,0.131836&t=h&z=13

-the Diversion Ditch Access at the north end of Corrales. Accessed via a dirt diversion channel road on

the west side of the diversion channel near Camino Corrales Del Norte off Corrales Road 448.

(Latitude = 35.2811, Longitude = -106.5993 Lat    = 35 degrees,   16.9 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,  

36.0 minutes   West),

 

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - NORTH CORRALES TO ALAMEDA FOOT BRIDGE

the Diversion Ditch Access at the north end of Corrales. Accessed via a dirt diversion channel road on the

west side of the diversion channel near Camino Corrales Del Norte off Corrales Road 448.

(Latitude = 35.2811, Longitude = -106.5993 Lat    = 35 degrees,   16.9 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,  

36.0 minutes   West), Time fro the US 550 bridge in Bernalillo Access to the Alameda Foot Bridge Access is

about 3 hours for this 7.5-8 mile section. Came close to being stuck with this run made at 750 CFS

- the seldom used Romero Road/Corrales Bosque Access point lies between the Diversion Ditch

  at the north end of Corrales and the Alameda Foot Bridge. Romero Road is on the east side of Corrales Road 448 north of the town center. Involves a 500 foot walk-in/walk-out trail on the west side of the river and includes a short climb up and over the Rio Levee.

(Latitude = 35.2560, Longitude = -106.5961 Lat    = 35 degrees,   15.4 minutes  

North Long = 106 degrees,  35.8 minutes   West),

-the Alameda Foot Bridge/ NM 528 Bridge Access at the south end of Corrales.  Accessed from the

paved and patrolled City of Albuquerque Open Space parking lot (Closed from 7:30 pm to 7 am) on the

southeast side of the bridges going north, under the NM 528 r, along the paved Bosque trail up to the

levee to the Alameda Foot Bridge and down into the bosque forest and the river via a dirt trail (best with

a kayak or canoe cart due to distance to the river) or easier on the northwest side which also has an

unimproved parking lot and shorter distance access though the put-in at low water is done at the exit of

the slow moving Corrales drain (Corrales in 2009 is debating putting in sewer lines to avoid the problem

of long term groundwater contamination). On both normal put-in sides you are upstream of the bridges

and during spring runoff the bridges themselves pose an immediate hazard.  If you get sideways to the

flow you can lose your craft if it becomes wrapped around the bridge pilings. Taking the east side access

can allow you with a little path to put in below both bridges. Remember in any case to be ready to use

your paddling skills to ferry to the west bank immediately to avoid the City of Albuquerque Water Diversion

Dam Hazard as noted just below here (Latitude = 35.1970, Longitude = -106.6424 Lat    = 35 degrees,  

11.8 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   38.5 minutes   West),

Comparison of water data for this run involves looking at the upstream gauge and the downstream gauge to

get an idea of the water taken out for irrigation purposes along the way.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?08329928

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/uv/?site_no=08329918&PARAmeter_cd=00010,00095

For typical years you can get an idea for monthly averages here:

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/dvstat/?site_no=08329928&por_08329928_2=558891,00060,2

 

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - ALAMEDA FOOT BRIDGE TO LOS RANCHOS DE ALBUQUERQUE

-the Alameda Foot Bridge/ NM 528 Bridge Access at the south end of Corrales.  Accessed from the paved

and patrolled City of Albuquerque Open Space parking lot on the southeast side of the bridges going under the

NM 528 road north along the paved Bosque trail then west up the levee to the Alameda Foot Bridge and down

into the bosque forest and the river via a dirt trail (best with a kayak or canoe cart due to distance to the river)

or easier on the northwest side which also has an unimproved parking lot and shorter distance access though the

put-in at low water is done at the exit of the slow moving Corrales drain (Corrales in 2009 is debating putting

in sewer lines to avoid the problem of long term groundwater contamination).

On both normal put-in sides you are upstream of the bridges and during spring runoff the bridges themselves pose

an immediate hazard.  If you get sideways to the flow you can lose your craft if it becomes wrapped around the

bridge pilings. Taking the east side access can allow you with a little path to put in below both bridges.

Remember in any case to be ready to use your paddling skills to ferry to the west bank immediately to avoid the

City of Albuquerque Water Diversion Dam Hazard as noted just below here

(Latitude= 35.1970, Longitude= -106.6424 Lat= 35 degrees, 11.8 minutes North Long= 106 degrees,38.5 minutes West),

- The Annual Great Race on the Rio Grande is run in late May or early June by the City of Albuquerque.

It is run from Alameda Bridge to a specially accessed Take-out point open about a mile below the

Rio Bravo Bridge for kayakers and canoeists with rafters putting in just below the Central Ave bridge

accessed specially thru the bosque from Tingley Beach for this event only.

Otherwise takeout is best just above the Central Avenue Bridge on the east side to the parking lot

for the Bosque Multipurpose Trail for a four hour trip. In 2008 the flow was above 4500 cubic feet

per second. Good flows for this wide and braided section of the Rio are usually above 2,500 cubic feet

per second for most paddlecraft and rafts.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?08330000

Great Race on the Rio Grande City of ABQ 2008    Great Race Down the Rio Grande - 2008

Required

Equipment

Paddlecraft

- Kayaks, Canoes, and Rafts

Life jackets In good condition, a wearable, properly sized for chest and weight, life jacket for each person on board
Type IV Cushion or life ring One for each canoe or raft in good condition
Rescue Bag with Floating line 30' minimum

One for each kayak will be accepted if you can't secure a Type IV Cushion or Life Ring to your kayak.

(The Type IV Cushion is an additional required item for all Kayaks, Canoes and Rafts)

Bow Line - Sturdy nylon line attached to the bow of the boat Must be at least the length of the kayak, canoe or raft.
Paddle or Oar One spare to be carried on board every kayak, canoe, or raft in addition to the ones for paddling.
Bucket or Bilge Pump One, one gallon bucket or a hand operated bilge pump
Whistle or Horn One for each craft.  It is recommended that one is attached to each person's lifejacket.

 

- the San Juan Chama City of Albuquerque Water Diversion Dam Hazard. This is about 600 feet

downstream of the Alameda Foot Bridge/ NM 528 BridgeThere are 24 gates for about 640 feet

across the river bank to bank. They try to maintain a 3 foot pool.  The amount of gates open

depends on river flow. It is not advisable to shoot the gates.  The flow picks up when moving the

500 cfs thru about the minimum left 60 feet of openings.  They have to leave an in stream 500 cfs

minimum to continue downstream Rio Grande four foot river level indicator high flows the water goes

over the dam and does not pose a hazard. At the annual Great Race on the Rio Grande, the City will

usually lower all of the gates for the duration of the race.  Portage should only be via the west bank

of the river just below the Alameda Foot Bridge/NM 528 Bridge

(Latitude = 35.1951, Longitude = -106.6437 Lat    = 35 degrees,   11.7 minutes  

North Long = 106 degrees,   38.6 minutes   West) For last minute information City of Albuquerque

Water Utility Operations San Juan Chama Project

505 - 342-3001/ Project Superintendent Scott Schnepper 505 - 235-8831. 

If for some reason you get caught on the east side and cannot ferry across you will note that

the operations on the east side of the river for portage is hazardous with jetty jacks and cabling

along the east bank. If you overshoot this area and are still headed toward the dam along the

east bank there is a last minute out that will cause you to trespass on the water property. 

Look for the channel that goes out immediately past the jetty jacks.  This channel is used for the

silvery minnow.  Just as you enter the channel you will see a concrete ramp on the right that I

would use in the emergency.  It looks like if you follow the channel around you can reenter at the

other end though with difficulty because of the rip rap and current you will have to deal with on the

downstream of the dam.

DO NOT rely on the posters on both the east and east sides of the river at the present time stating

that a good portage is also on the east side.  Web sitewww.abcwua.org

- the Paseo Del Norte/ NM 423 Bridge Access at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.  This is a long distance

(1500 feet) cart approach from the parking lot on the east side of the river 600 feet along the bike trail on

the south side of Paseo Del Norte up onto the levee and then a sandy dirt trail the remainder of the distance

thru the Bosque to the river. Accessed by a Open Space Bosque access paved parking lot off Rio Grande

Boulevard NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque .

(Latitude = 35.1823, Longitude = -106.6447 Lat    = 35 degrees,   10.9 minutes  

North Long = 106 degrees,   38.7 minutes   West),

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - LOS RANCHOS DE ALBUQUERQUE TO CENTRAL AVE BRIDGE

- the Paseo Del Norte/ NM 423 Bridge Access at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.  This is a long

distance (1500 feet) cart approach from the parking lot on the east side of the river 600 feet along the bike

trail on the south side of Paseo Del Norte up onto the levee and then a sandy dirt trail the remainder of the

distance thru the Bosque to the river. Accessed by a Open Space Bosque access paved parking lot off Rio

Grande Boulevard NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque .

(Latitude = 35.1823, Longitude = -106.6447 Lat    = 35 degrees,   10.9 minutes  

North Long = 106 degrees,   38.7 minutes   West),

- the Montano Road Bridge Access Not Recommended due to distances.

(Latitude = 35.1453, Longitude = -106.6773

Lat    = 35 degrees,   8.7 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   40.6 minutes   West)

- the Rio Grande Nature Center/Candelaria Road Access Not Recommended due to distances.

Over two thousand feet is involved.

Take out

( Latitude = 35.1346, Longitude = -106.6862

Lat = 35 degrees,  8.1 minutes  North Long = 106 degrees, 41.2 minutes West) 

This exit requires a long walk out that accesses the Rio Grande Nature Center Nature Trail

to the City of Albuquerque Bosque trail then going down to the bridge over the Clear Ditch to the Nature Center.

The path thru the Nature Center is pretty loose and not suitable for most kayak carts. It is better to head just a

bit further south once you cross over the Clear Ditch to the Candelaria Lift Station and side trail access directly

to Candelaria NW.  Day use fee is required if you park in the Nature Center Parking lot.

- the I-40 Interstate Bridge. No easy access. There is a parking lot on the east side of the river for the

Rio Grande Valley State Park accessed off Florqal/Galbadon Road NW.  The parking is unsecured but within

a neighborhood.  Access is thru a gate or guard rail stepover to the Bosque Trail Bike Path. The Path is then

crossed to a pedestrian crossing over the Clear Ditch to the Rio Grande Levee Road. 

From there it is another 400 feet to the river. 

Noted here for reference/distance.

(Latitude = 35.1064, Longitude = -106.6927

Lat    = 35 degrees,   6.4 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   41.6 minutes   West)

This I-40 bridge parking accesses the Clear Ditch reach, a fun little workout line north of this point ONLY

when water levels are deep enough.  It is a pretty ditch with waterfowl and muskrat, beaver and quiet

once out of earshot of the interstate.  It will go north under the Campbell road bike path bridge (clearance

can be close at higher flows and definitely not doable with a canoe due to the clearance)

the Rio Grande Nature Center pedestrian bridge, the clear ditch path bridge at the north end of the Rio Grande

Nature Center and up to Montano Road and the Montano Irrigation Ditch pedestrian bridge where a small rapid

prevents further upstream travel without a short portage.  You can stop here and return or do the portage

and continue up to the Paseo del Norte drop. 

Watch for shallower sides as you go upditch so you have an exit in the event of a capsize.

Alternatively someone with a mountain bike could follow your progress along the ditch path and bike trail

and be ready with a throw bag/rescue line if you need it. Low branches in some areas can be an issue

in early season before your fellow boaters manage to cut them all.

South of this point the Clear Ditch narrows considerably speeding flow and with steeper sides making the

possibility of rescue a problem especially when in about another 1/2 mile there is an abrupt 90 degree

turn that returns the entire ditch flow down an unrunnable drop structure hazard to the river.

- the Central Avenue Bridge Access.  Northeast side of bridge by the Botanical Park is a parking lot that

can be used.  Secure all valuables at this location.

Take the paved Bosque Trail over the levee and down to the bridge and then by dirt path thru the Bosque

to the river. The distance is about 600 feet.

(Latitude = 35.0894, Longitude = -106.6807 Lat    = 35 degrees,   5.4 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   40.8 minutes   West)

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE - CENTRAL AVE BRIDGE TO RIO BRAVO BOULEVARD SW

- the Central Avenue Bridge Access.  Northeast side of bridge by the Botanical Park is a parking lot that can be used.  Secure all valuables at this location.

Take the paved Bosque Trail over the levee and down to the bridge and then by dirt path thru the Bosque to the river. The distance is about 600 feet.

(Latitude = 35.0894, Longitude = -106.6807 Lat    = 35 degrees,   5.4 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   40.8 minutes   West)

 

-the Bridge Boulevard SW/ NM 314 Bridge Access. Southeast side of the bridge going eastbound across the bridge is a levee access point and small parking area to the Bosque Trail. It is about 400 feet to the river. Best for immediate pickup or dropoff only.

(Latitude = 35.0698, Longitude = -106.6598 Lat    = 35 degrees,   4.2 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   39.6 minutes   West)

-the Rio Bravo Boulevard SW/ NM 500 Bridge Access. From the east side of the Bridge go towards the river and the Open Space parking off either Poco Loco SW or Dean Boulevard SW. Leaving the parking lot it is about 600 feet of dirt trail access to the river after going up and over the levee.

(Latitude = 35.0272, Longitude = -106.6728 Lat    = 35 degrees,   1.6 minutes   North Long = 106 degrees,   40.4 minutes   West)

 

RIO GRANDE MIDDLE NEW MEXICO- RIO BRAVO BOULEVARD SW BRIDGE TO ISLETA DIVERSION DAM AND POINTS SOUTH TO THE TEXAS BORDER

-Rio Grande from the Rio Bravo Bridge in South Albuquerque to Elephant Butte Lake State Park takeout at the Monticello Point Ramp, a multiday trip that passes the bosque,farming villages, national wildlife refuges, and civil war battlefields.

RIO GRANDE LOWER NEW MEXICO- ELEPHANT BUTTE AND CABALLO LAKE STATE PARKS

The Rio Grande River just below Elephant Butte Dam to Caballo Lake (Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake State Parks)

Mostly flatwater with a couple of short or manageable portages when water is high (generally Class II, II+ in difficulty but the one

or two sections involved can be bottom scrapers depending on water level).

elephant butte dam face

Below the Dam at Elephant Butte Lake (Lat    = 33 degrees,   8.9 minutes   North    Long = 107 degrees,   12.4 minutes   West) there is State Park parking for the start of the seasonal Rio Grande River canoe or kayak run to just below Willamsburg east off State Road 187 (Lat    = 33 degrees,   6.2 minutes   North            Long = 107 degrees,   17.6 minutes   West)  or to the north end of Caballo Lake State Park. (Check with park managers for best flows and projections). Park day use entrance fee payment is good for the day.  It's a great run of 10-12 miles depending upon takeout and is totally moving flat water except for a couple of locations where low drop temporary dams are in to back up water in the T or C area to keep water pressure flows on the hot springs establishments. Canoes and Kayaks usually run these short whitewater drops once scouted. It is a popular activity during seasonal dam releases from the Dam and when Caballo Lake water level is high enough for easy takeout access as an alternative to the below Williamsburg takeout.  Takeout at Caballo lake is at K-cove or further depending upon paddling ability and late afternoon up lake winds. Rafts are generally not recommended to go all the way to Caballo Lake due to afternoon headwinds occuring on open water before any takeout points. Rafts also have to be be portaged over the two minor drops on the river by Truth or Consequences. Some of the Elephant Butte Lake marinas offer sit on top kayak rentals for the day. Sometimes a four and one-half mile canoe race is held in conjunction with the annual Truth or Consequences Fiesta usually the weekend preceeding Mothers' Day. Information on flows are found on the Bureau of Reclamation El Paso District Site.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/nwisman/?site_no=08361000

Close rescue access.

SAN JUAN RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- Navajo Lake State Park to Aztec New Mexico

Known hazards beta

a number of low bridges and fences

SAN JUAN RIVER NORTHERN NEW MEXICO- Aztec New Mexico to State Line

Known hazards beta

San Juan River PNM Weir Diversion
San Juan River Cudei Diversion
San Juan River Hogback Diversion

GILA RIVER  - SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO

- The Gila River from the confluence of the East and West Forks to the Arizona Gila Box which can range from a mellow float to wild ride with numerous hazards such as strainers depending upon flows and upstream rain events. Handled by USBLM Taos

(Very occasional trips may also be done depending upon water flows and will create their own special set of hazards are on the Canadian River, Pecos River to Santa Rosa from below Santa Rosa State Park.)

LOWER RIO CHAMA - NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River
Rating: Class II-III
Mileage:* 8 1/4 miles from Chavez Canyon to Big Eddy

Gradient: 15 feet per mile
Minimum Flow Needs: For kayaks (inflatable or hard shell), canoes, and rafts less than 12', at least 300 cfs is recommended. For rafts over 12' in length, a minimum of 500 cfs is recommended.

USGS Maps: Abiquiu, Canones, Echo Amphitheater, Ghost Ranch, Laguna Peak, Navajo Peak (all 7.5').
Designated Launch/Takeout Sites: (Rio Chama)

* Put-ins and take-outs at Chavez Canyon and Big Eddy are accessed by Forest Road 151 which begins ½ mile north of Ghost Ranch Living Museum on Highway 84. Forest Road 151 may be hazardous when wet.
* Shuttle: 50 miles one-way. Shuttle services are normally available - contact BLM at 575-751-4731 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              575-751-4731      end_of_the_skype_highlighting for current information, or call Up the Creek Shuttle Service at 575-588-7704.

Boating Information: The BLM manages a 31-mile stretch of the Rio Chama – from El Vado Ranch to the Big Eddy takeout. Another put-in/put-out spot is Chavez Canyon, which is about 22.25 miles from El Vado Ranch and 8.25 miles from the Big Eddy takeout.

* Private or Self-Guided Trips / Chavez Canyon -- No advance reservation or fees are required for day trips launching from Chavez Canyon, just below the Monastery. All you need to do for this day-run is fill out a boater registration form with the BLM before you launch.

Following is information that I found on "Eddy Flower, kayaking for the addicted."

Chama Canyon Day Run Run Length 9 miles
Average Gradient 17 fpm  Difficulty Class II+
Recommended Flow > 400 cfs  Author Kit Davidson
Current Flow & Weather 848 cfs
Drainage Rio Chama
Elevation 6420ft to 6265ft

The "Day Stretch" on the Rio Chama is really just the last 9 miles of the full Chama Canyon run, which happen to be fairly roadside and easily accessible. This may be one of the better intermediate runs in the state when it is running, the scenery is unbelievable, and on par with just about anywhere else in New Mexico. The rapids, while small, are frequent, and a handful of them are fairly exciting, providing both a white knuckle adventure for beginners, and some hootin' good waves for the more seasoned folk. Throw in the fact that it is always uncrowded, and you've got yourself a great little boating adventure.

The run starts at the "Chavez Canyon" put in, which is marked by a small sign that says "<- BOAT ACCESS". Here the river is flat and quiet, and it stays that way until it runs past the Rio Chama campground (which is a beautiful campground) and runs through a couple of good but easy rapids. The largest of these, "Screaming Left Hand", comes up on you with an abrupt horizon line as you veer away from the road. It's short and fun. Below here the run really flattens out and stays mostly flat until Skull Bridge. Kick back and admire the amazing scenery.

At Skull Bridge the river ramps up a notch. Just above the bridge the river runs through a long and shallow class II, eventually culminating in Skull Rapid itself, a wave train with some good gradient that pours under the bridge, past a scary fence, and into the runout. Shortly below this there is a fun drop called "Island Rapid", where the river splits around a large sandbar. While they both are fun and passable, the river left channel has more features, and has a fun wave right where the two channels come back together. Below here it flattens out, with a couple of riffles every little bit or so, until you reach The Bend, where the river makes a pronounced bend to the right and away from the road. On the point of this bend is a good place to take a break, as it is away from the road. The river returns to the road in a large eddy where there is an incredibly massive (and old) cottonwood tree on river left. Truly a grandfather of a tree! Just below here is the biggest drop of the run, "Screaming Right Hand" or also called "Gauging Station Rapid". In either case, it is a small boulder garden up top, to a longer rapid with several big waves and large rocks in the runout, all up against a cliff wall on river left. It's a blast but a beginner should be thoroughly gripped for this one. There are a couple of small rapids below here that lead into the next drop, a two-drop sequence called "Whirlpool Rapid", where the river piles against another cliff wall and generates some fun currents. Another split channel rapid, called "Second Island Rapid" (go right if there is enough flow for more fun) and soon Big Eddy comes into view. Beginners will want to take out here, while intermediates can continue around the corner for one more big rapid, appropriately called "Big Eddy Rapid". Simply run this, eddy out on river left, walk back up to Big Eddy, and paddle back to the car. You can keep going all the way to Abiquiu Reservoir, which gets you several more small rapids, but access from here either requires a major walk (~5 mi) or a major paddle (~30 mi) to get out.

There is developed camping at Big Eddy and the Rio Chama campgrounds. Big Eddy has packed gravel spots with No Fires, while the Rio Chama has much more beautiful open sites with firerings, tables, and tent pads. There are several dispersed camping areas between the two as well, including "Whirlpool", and another one which I cannot remember the name of. Both of these are pretty as well.
Here is a breakdown of the river:

Put-In
Take US 84 north of Abiquiu Reservoir, and turn left at the battered sign saying "Rio Chama". Follow this exciting gravel road for 5 jarring miles until you get to Big Eddy. Continue north for 9 miles and turn left at the sign that says "Boat Access".

Screaming Left Hand Class II+
This comes up on you in the first few miles. The river runs away from the road for a spell, and it is in here that a horizon line looms with some ominous thunder to provide the beginner with lots of trepidation. It sounds big, and is somewhat lengthy, but it's also very easy with clearly defined holes and rocks to avoid. Everyone should emerge upright and all smiles from this one.

Skull Rapid Class II+
This starts about three hundred yards above the Skull Bridge. It starts with an easy but shallow boulder garden, then drops into a steep wave train that pours under the bridge. Watch for the fencing on both sides of the river directly under the bridge.

Island Rapid Class II+
Just below Skull the river splits around a large dirt island. Both channels go, but the left channel has the better action, as well as a nice wave at the bottom where the two come together.

Screaming Right Hand Class III-
This comes up on you pretty quick after coming back around "The Bend". The river turns slightly away from the road, and a horizon line looms. Run this small boulder garden, and then take a breath in the brief flat below there. After this, negotiate the easy boulder garden at the top, line up and smack through the large waves in the middle, and then watch out for the boulders in river center in the bottom. Stay off the cliff wall on river left and you are good to go!

Whirlpool Rapid Class II+
Whirlpool is a two part drop a short ways below Screaming Right Hand. There is a small upper drop that has some decent but shallow waves on river left, and a lower drop that has some very interesting currents and rock placements. The river kinda loses its focus right here and the result is some bizarre cross currents and eddy lines, all shoved up against a cliff face. Whirlpools are generated here at high water, thus the naming.

Second Island Rapid Class II+
This drop occurs a short ways below Whirlpool, and just a short ways above Big Eddy. The river again split around a large sand island, only this time the best action occurs in the river right channel. This channel is fairly shallow so it's best done at levels over 600 or so. Just below this is some flatwater, and then just below on river left there are some fantastic water-generated erosional features both above the river and at the water level. If the water is low enough (less than 700ish) there is a really neat overhang you can paddle underneath.

Big Eddy Rapid Class III
This is a short and steep drop located just below the takeout. If water levels are low enough (below 2500) then it's possible to run the rapid, hike up about 50 yards to Big Eddy, and then paddle back to the takeout. Big Eddy Rapid is a short and violent drop with a cliff wall on river right, and several large boulders choking the path. There is an easier line on river left but river right is fairly full on. This rapid is worth the extra work as it is one of the steepest drops on the run, and often produces some of the biggest waves.

Take-Out
Drive back down to Big Eddy. Park. Repeat.

from the Water Quality web page.

Here is the link :       http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/current/?type=quality

If you select the station number a seven day graph of the data will come up.
You can plot up to 31 day of real time data.

I hope this helps.
 

Station
Number

Station name

Date/Time

Temper-
ature,
water,
deg C

Specif-
ic
conduc-
tance,
wat unf
uS/cm
25 degC

GroupRio Grande Basin

08276500

 RIO GRANDE BLW TAOS JUNCTION BRIDGE NEAR TAOS, NM 

 05/02 10:45 

7.9 

213 

08286500

 RIO CHAMA ABOVE ABIQUIU RESERVOIR, NM 

  ---     ---   

Dis 

Dis 

08287000

 RIO CHAMA BELOW ABIQUIU DAM, NM 

 04/03 12:15 

*** 

*** 

08290000

 RIO CHAMA NEAR CHAMITA, NM 

 05/02 13:30 

Dis 

Dis 

08313000

 RIO GRANDE AT OTOWI BRIDGE, NM 

 05/02 13:00 

9.2 

186 

08317400

 RIO GRANDE BELOW COCHITI DAM, NM 

 05/02 12:46 

11.8 

228 

08329918

 RIO GRANDE AT ALAMEDA BRIDGE AT ALAMEDA, NM 

 05/01 12:15 

12.2 

-- 

 

  

 05/01 12:00 

-- 

249 

GroupPecos River Basin

08387550

 North Fork Eagle Creek near Alto, NM 

 05/02 13:45 

10 

-- 



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