Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-12-2012   #1
Hood River, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2163
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 295
White Rock Canyon Rio Grande

Hey buzz folks- I'm looking for information about White Rock Canyon on the rio Grande. Right now it's running above 1000. How would it be at these flows? Where do people put in these days? How is the run? Thanks for any info.

David Spiegel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #2
Abron Cabron
abron's Avatar
Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
wellllll its Beautiful, but definitely better with as much water as you can get. I would totally consider it for a kayak self support at this level, but there are lots of sandbars down by cochiti that can make it not so fun in a raft. although its been a long time since i've been in there....

so its basically 30 miles of flat class I/II with two decent, or at high water, solid rapids in the middle....
Water canyon and Ancho.(III/ IV at highwater.) (I have only done it once,at least 10 years ago.) allegedly they get monstrous at 10k+ (....1995 on a friends wedding float-13k cfs, and drunken carnage ensued. probably easily I do remember water canyon has a huge boulder that you have to run right of, and Ancho was like a large smiley wave/hole on the left. if i recall it may have been decent for a playboat if you wanted to drag one down on a float. both easy to avoid. there is beautiful geology in there, and no one around in the middle- its totally isolated.

In the bottom third there is Frijoles canyon trail to either hike a duckies out, or to hike up and check out Bandelier national monument- Anasazi ruins (absolutely gorgeous spot) and plenty of camping and maybe even a spring of some sort. there is a whole lot of basalt cliffs right on the river that have some amazing trad climbing potential. but that maybe into Cochiti Pueblo land. i seem to remember thinking a raft supported climbing float would be awesome. the bottom can get windy and crappy, with the sandbars and all, and the paddle across the lake can be pretty epic. i think it at least 3, maybe even 6 miles from the canyon mouth, around to the east (river left side of the lake) to the boat ramp.
My rafting co does one trip annually down with a college geology class, and the boss had some guy come tow us with his boat to the ramp. It made the end much easier. the higher the water the further the lake goes into the canyon. Other commercial outfitters offer a one day trip in duckies, and hike out at frijoles instead of dealing with the lake.

I think the consensus is its not a classic, but it could really be a nice float if you dialed it right, with the weather and flows,and took your time. Its really is a special place, with powerful indigenous roots. (Bandelier, Cochiti pueblo, Santa Domingo Pueblo And Diablo Canyon all have their own stories and atmosphere.) If you see it closer to 2-3000cfs, it should be cake. (minus the lake.)

I did it with a stern mounted Dib, and a six load, in one day, so it was pretty grueling. I would like to use it as a first time kayak self support mission (pending the correct gear.)
And if you climb as well, white rock over look, Diablo Canyon, Cochiti Mesa, and many other classic spots are right in the vicinity...

The put-in is officially supposed to be at Otowi bridge off of NM 503 (the road to Los Alamos from Pojoaque. ) at the Rio grande crossing.

You can put in at the end of Buckman Road past Diablo Canyon west of Santa Fe, but I wouldnt leave a car at either location. (the future site of the Santa Fe whitewater park that I have been daydreaming about for but that is not a proper commercial put-in.

The takeout is the Boat Ramp at Cochiti Dam, off I-25 between Santa Fe And ABQ.It is safe to leave vehicles there, as safe as it is anywhere in NM, which is always questionable. I dont know about overnight tho.

Hope this helps...
you're welcome to PM me if you have other questions.
I would also consider car camping on the day section of the chama and running laps on that. it can be bike shuttled. its decent at 400cfs.(class II/III-ish... but beautiful) or camping in pilar and lapping the racecourse. it also still goes at 400 in kayaks. (or 10-12'rafts). although not too exciting, theres lots of splats and channels to sternsquirt and roll and the waters nice...we run it all summer at >400 on low water years...lookin' like this year as well prolly... :/

abron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #3
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
The Otowi Bridge access has supposedly been closed to the public for a couple years now, and according to locals the Buckman Road is not a good place to leave a vehicle. The recommendation is now to launch at Espanola upstream, lengthening the trip...

I still haven't done it, but there was some very useful beta on this thread:
GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
lmyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #4
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 168

I posted up a bunch on info in some of the previous threads about White Rock Canyon. Definitely not a classic, but I enjoyed it both times I ran it.

Some updates on access:

The launch site in Espanola appeared closed off when I drove past last week. Used it last time I ran the canyon. Made for an epic long day with a head wind.

Ottowi bridge is definitely off limits for launch.

Buckman Road appears to be only launch point other than hiking your gear down from Overlook Park in White Rock. I echo all the comments about not leaving a vehicle there.

The side hike up to Bandolier National Monument may not be possible due to severe erosion following last summer's fire. Bright side is that you may see no one on the whole trip. This also would rule out the "hike out at Frijoles" option often suggested for doing the canyon as a 1 day trip. Call Bandolier for current trail conditions.

I have only run the canyon at around 4000cfs at which level it really moves along until you get to Frijoles Canyon. After Frijoles it is either a very slow current or no current depending on the level of the reservoir. Kind of sucks to row out, but no worse than the last day on the lower San Juan.

There is almost always a headwind in the afternoon, so trying to do a one day trip is not a good idea. I have always gone down as far as possible and then rowed out first thing the next morning before the wind comes up.

At the current level it would probably be most fun in duckies, longer white water kayaks (go to be ok on flat water stretches), or a canoe if you portage Ancho Canyon (or have mad skills).

I have put together a ghetto "River Map" that I can e-mail to anyone if you PM me your address. I don't think I have the river miles on the images, but you can do that with a piece of string and a pen like I did on mine.
gbmaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #5
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 61
A new guide has all the relevant beta and lots of interesting tid bits about the geology: Fieldguides: The Rio Grande

I have done it as low as 600 cfs with 14-16' rafts (no issues). But higher water is more fun.

I have left a vehicle at buckmans before without issue but its scary after hearing stories about the locals burning cars for the fun of it back in the day.

The sand bars are not as bad as rowing across the lake especially if there is wind. For a reasonable price you can arrange a tow from a nice local preacher. I can't find the number right now but can dig it up if you are interested.

Have fun!!
desertrat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #6
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 168
Doh! Totally forgot about the new guidebook. I even have a copy. Definitely order a copy of it. It is well done and has info that is up to date.

I agree with desertrat, I think people have over blown the sandbar thing. It is totally dependent on the reservoir level anyway. Last time I went a few years ago we rowed past a 25ft sailboat tied up in a cove 1/2 mile from where we camped. The water was 6 to 8 ft deeper than the first time we ran it.

The wind sucks no mater what the level. It would be impossible to row across in some of the afternoon winds I have encountered. I have been on Cochiti in a canoe in the afternoon with 2 strong paddlers and have a hard time.

I really need to give it a shot at a lower water level. It might well be even more fun than at high water.
gbmaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
,hiked down Frijoles trail to the river once, would be doable but semi brutal carrying a boat and I believe you would have to pay Bandalier's fees ( ruins are worthwhile though)....nice waterfalls on trail......isn't there a side hike to a cave with petroglyphs or something?

Wasn't there something about loose nukes from Los Alamos contaminating the river or some such thing a while back?
cayo 2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #8
Hood River, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2163
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 295
Thanks for all the info! We would be doing a self support trip in kayaks and duckies so the head winds should be slowing us down as much as in a raft. We would be taking our time (maybe 3 days).

How many miles would the run be if we put in at Buckman road and had someone help us with shuttle so that we didn't have to leave cars? Is the espanola put-in out for sure?

Once again, thanks for any help you can give. We are looking for something that will make a nice, relaxed 3 day trip and the Chama is looking low. Any other suggestions? Or do people think the Chama would be more worthwhile?

David Spiegel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #9
Abron Cabron
abron's Avatar
Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
wow, so i guess a lot of my info is out of date, with the problems from the fire and all. guess i'll have to do it again sometime to get more current.

I think its 30 miles, from buckman. dont know for sure.
I would definitely go to Buckman instead of Espanola, (unless you're intentionally wanting to make it longer.) 3 days from Espana would be plenty, but again IDK the status up there.

Carcamping/ ease of use and running class II+ /III- laps= Day section goes at 400 btw. it actually washes out a bit & becomes almost featureless at higher water except for the bottom couple rapids. still IDK about driving from CO just for that....

pain in the butt ingress/egress/shuttle but fairly wild wilderness float = whiterock.

its totally all what your group is looking for.

If I have the time I would be willing to help you with the shuttle, but I am working a lot so its schedule dependent for me.

and If it tells you anything, I try to camp on the chama every summer to take the family on the river, and I have only done whiterock once in 13 years of river time.

but I do want to do again.
abron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2012   #10
Placitas, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 40
white rock

Beware of the log dam that the army corp installed at the top of the lake. There's three foot of chain link hanging off it. It could be some real bad news, It was installed this winter after the fire.
We ran it last year, I had to work some magic on the logestics. You can't ! leave a rig at buckman. I had four people support us. two drivers and thrid who picked them up at the lake. The fourth was the moter boat driver. There was plenty of flat water on the river without the lake.
Great hikes, one good camp on the run at the blue dot trail but other then that the camping is pretty slim. The flow was 1,300, we had my 16' cat, another raft, two Kayak instruters with two 12 year olds in their boats. The kids did the first rapid and rode in a raft on the second.
Hope this helps. Also check the Adobe White Water Club site there may be something on the log jam dam what ever they call that thing.

tcat is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Beta Needed - Upper Rio Grande, Mesa Canyon of San Juan, maybe Conejo! lmyers Kayaking | Trip Planner 5 07-06-2009 02:29 PM
Rio grande hapypadler Whitewater Kayaking 28 12-18-2008 09:51 AM
White Rock Canyon superpuma Whitewater Kayaking 8 03-11-2006 01:56 PM
Found: Canoe paddles in Whiterock Canyon, Rio Grande h20shed Lost & Found 0 07-28-2005 11:05 AM
BETA on upper rio grande and rio chama? Camiona Whitewater Kayaking 2 06-12-2005 11:56 PM

» Classified Ads
Jackson SuperStar

posted by bodhizafa

Jackson Superstar kayak, black color. In ok condition. ...

Pyranha Burn 3 Small R/G/W

posted by Rendezvous River Sports


Dagger Mamba 7.6 Red

posted by Rendezvous River Sports

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:54 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.