New Mexico rafting is a great way to explore this rugged state. Because the snowmelt begins as the weather becomes a bit warmer in the spring, the official rafting season runs from mid-April through the summer. While traversing the rivers of New Mexico, paddlers can look forward to a variety of exciting sights and experiences along the way, including wildlife encounters and other activities.
There are two main waterways for rafting trips in New Mexico: the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama, both of which are thrilling rivers with high quality rapids. The Rio Grande is the longer of the two rivers, running through several popular white water areas, including the famed Taos Box, where you’ll find the best rapids in New Mexico. Taos river rafting takes paddlers through an 800-foot-deep, seventeen-mile-long canyon that seems simply to have split apart for the sole purpose of letting the river pass. As it is such an action-packed run and though it is beginner-friendly, Taos river rafting is still best suited to individuals who can handle constantly paddling for several miles.
Originating in the Rocky Mountains, the Rio Grande courses through the canyons of Taos and is segregated into three main rafting segments, the Middle Box, the Taos Box, and the Lower Gorge. The Middle Box trips generally include Class III or Class IV rapids, while the Lower Gorge is generally Class III. The Taos Box, as you’d expect, is the most difficult segment, with Class IV+ rapids to battle.
With brilliant colors of red, pink, white, and yellow, the sandstone of the Chama River canyon makes this run one of the most charming to experience. Rafters will take out just above the Abiquiu reservoir. Paddlers who are planning for New Mexico rafting can choose from any number of possible runs, lasting from a few hours to a half day to several days. The rapids are calmer, with Class III being the general level of difficulty, and the scenery is unparalleled. Rafting trips here usually begin near the Christ in the Desert monastery and go about ten miles through scenery made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe.
While many rafters rush to the scene during the summer months, the season actually begins in the spring, usually sometime in April, as this is the time when the snow is melting and pouring forth from the mountains. From mid-spring to early summer, the water levels are at their highest, and the rapids are at their most vivacious, making this time of year the best time for expert adventurers to head out for New Mexico white water rafting. The weather is also a bit cooler, so if the brightest sun or hottest temperatures aren’t your favorite, then spring might be the time to go.
Whether the plan includes a few hours or a few days, planning ahead will ensure an enjoyable experience in New Mexico rafting. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and first-aid supplies—and your camera—and you’ll be set for a great vacation. With gorgeous scenery, dozens of thrilling rapids, and plenty of room to stop and rest in this magical scenery, New Mexico white water rafting is one of the best vacation options in the American Southwest.