I am not familiar with the stretch of the Rio Grande you are referring to, but it could be fun... any thing upstream of the lower box involves a nice (i.e. strenuous) hike down into the gorge, and probably back out. by the colorado border there is the ute mountain run ,which would probably be more fun with the razorblades (III-IV) included to break up the float. it is supposed to be beautiful.... but don't miss the take out, cuz the upper box is no place for any of us non- sickbirds. i would love to do the razorblades though.
The day section of the Rio Chama is super beautiful, cold water, isolated, and fun non scary class II with a couple III's, but the water is most likely turned off until later in the summer in july/august, when they do weekend releases for commercial trips. if you can, the three day trip is totally worthwhile. it is one of my favorite multi-day trips. you can check the gauges on boatertalk.com to verify the flow. anything over 300 cfs is alright for the day section. great free camping, but bring a bike for the shuttle. it was actually running almost 4000 earlier,but its all dependant on the plan to fill elephant butte reservoir, and i guess they brought that level up a bit.
your best bet pretty much all summer for class III in NM is the pilar section. it has actually been class IV- for the first time in years, (major rafting carnage) because of the flow, but it's doubtful it will be that high in a couple of weeks (II and III+ up to @ 3400, then it's
IV-) there is some exciting spots, but they could all be portaged if you really wanted to. scout beforehand along the road. Albert's falls, big rocks/ toilet bowl and souse hole are the main ones to look out for, and the narrrows is a long rapid and/or swim. i am definitely a member of the rio grande swim team
.in the last seven years, i have swam them all! the toilet bowl should be avoided at all costs- except at very low levels (>600) when it is probably easier than the slot at big rocks. ( which is all underwater right now) that is , of course a matter of opinion. souse hole is an almost river wide hole, but it's a pool drop.
actually that is almost all of the rapids- it's only five miles. there is good camping on the state park section, which is a nice five or six mile flatwater stretch with three little rapids between the lower box and the racecourse.
hope that helps a little. i guess i wrote a little (lot) more than i meant to, but I love my home state. and contrary to popular belief, you can drink the water, dollars are accepted, and you don't need a passport to get home. oh, and we have real green chile and real (good)margaritas. if you have any more questions or you are looking for someone to paddle with down here, i would be happy to show you the runs, and i am definitely an intermediate level boater- my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
. i am in school full time, but hopefully i will have a day off this summer sometime....
!Buen viaje! -abe