If your perception of New Mexico is that of the Southwestern desert, a la the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, with yuccas, sagebrush and cactus being the central theme, think again. New Mexico is home to fabulous river terrain, and right now is the perfect time to get yourself on a raft or kayak and experience one of the finest adventures we have to offer here.
If you’re staying in Santa Fe or Taos or points nearby sometime soon, plan to spend at least a half day on either the Rio Grande or the Rio Chama. May and June are prime months for a whitewater rafting experience, given spring runoff, and while 2012 promises to have a slightly lighter runoff than the last couple of years, you’re still in for a treat.
Here’s how it generally works: You schedule a trip with a local outfitter, choosing your adventure level. Are you dying to shoot the whitewater in Class III and IV rapids? Pick the Taos Box or the Racecourse of the Rio Grande. While the Rio Grande has action-packed rapids, it is also a beginner-friendly run. Prefer an easy float? Tell your guides, and they’ll more than likely put you in a raft on the Lower Gorge.
Want to try a combo with a float and some rapids? Kokopelli Raft Tours will let you schedule an overnight trip that will include all your camping gear and nutritious gourmet meals along the river
Prefer beauty and relaxation to white knuckle rafting? Try the Rio Chama, which is touted as the perfect family river trip. The Chama flows through a 1500-foot wilderness canyon that is remote and difficult to access, ensuring that birds and wildlife are plentiful. The trip is a mixture of mellow floating and moderate class II and III rapids. The Chama is a perfect trip for families and those looking for days filled with beauty and relaxation
And as Kokopelli’s website says about the wild and scenic Rio Grande, “As the walls rise dramatically above us, it is common to be surrounded by thousands of swallows. Eagles, falcons, and owls are also spotted frequently. We will see an abundance of wildlife and a wide variety of native plants not found on other sections of the Rio Grande.”
Santa Fe Rafting Company offers a wide variety of trips, with vans leaving Santa Fe for the Rio Grande at 8:00, 9:00 a.m. and noon daily. With costs ranging from $65 to $120, there’s a trip for every level of enthusiast. Or try a 3-day excursion on the Rio Chama.
Cottam’s Rio Grande Rafting , a local favorite, also offers a wide variety of options, as well as a bike and raft combo where you can spend half your day mountain biking and the other half on the water. Cottam’s allows you to take your own vehicle to the river and meet at a specific place on the water. So, if you prefer the option of having your car and driving into Taos for dinner after your float, this might be the best outfitter for you.
There are locals who will tell you no trip to Santa Fe in the spring is complete without a day on a river. We tend to agree. The rivers have cut deep canyons through our rugged desert terrain creating a dramatic setting for any New Mexico river trip. And watching that setting go by from the water is an entirely new and different experience if you haven’t tried it. Whitewater rafting is perhaps the greatest adventure park ride ever invented: nature’s combination of a roller coaster and a water ride, and all without the crowds and concrete!Pin It