Rafting in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument lies the best whitewater rafting that the Desert Southwest can provide through one of the most scenic sections of the Rio Grande Gorge, and it’s known as the Taos Box of Northern New Mexico. This is a classic 16 mile, pool and drop run, with the best of the Class IV rapids located in the final 4 miles, known as the Rio Bravo Section. The river gorge is home to numerous species of wildlife, including big horn sheep, river otter, beaver, mule deer and racoon, just to name a few.

All of the following images were taken on August 2, 2015 on my final trip of the season.

(click on image to enlarge)

A very cute family of River Otters.Otters were introduced back into the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument after more than a 60 year absence. I came upon this tight knit family within 2 miles of the put-in at John Dunn Bridge.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.The beautiful partly cloudy New Mexico skies made for some interesting light as I approached the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

One of the originally introduced bighorn sheep.This is Lucy. I have images of her that were taken shortly after she was brought into the gorge in 2006 by the New Mexico Game and Fish.

Young bighorn sheep.One of this years many young rams.

A very technical rapid.Dead Car is one those technically challenging rapids as you can tell from the image. Today’s water level was 620 cubic feet per second.

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.The entrance to Powerline Falls is always a thrilling moment, even at this lower water level. Here you can see that even with only two passengers Joe gets hung up at the top.

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.…..but that moment quickly vanishes into the whitewater below.

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.In the Rio Bravo section, just above Rock Garden, is the eddy to catch when scouting this 2nd Class IV rapid. Note the fluted basalt boulder with the pool of water, evidence of some great monsoonal rains.

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.…….and there it is! The most difficult rapid of the Taos Box, Rock Garden. Can you locate the Sieve, Fishhook, Soda Fountain, Camel (The Trench), Shark Fin, Broach and The Northwest Passage?

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.At the entrance to the Boulder Field you can see on river right the tilted basalt and sediment layers.

The Rio Bravo Section of the Taos Box.The always busy Screaming Right rapid. After entering on the right through the Warp Zone and avoiding the Enema, Joe comes to what is known as Hang Ten.

Looking upstream in the final mile.On the approach to the final rapid there are some wonderfully sculpted basalt boulders on river right. This one I named Rhino Rock.

Thanks for stopping in & be sure to leave a comment or question.

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About Britt Runyon

A New Mexico based free roaming outdoor digital photographer, always on the qui vive for what Nature and humans provide.
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