The general consensus as far as I know is
RC good down to 200cfs for jonsing locals just to go splat rocks and do rolls,
300and up is normal low water... same thing ..you can get wet and surf a little at sleeping beauty.
700-1500 a average to good runoff and definitely worth it
2000cfs and up... yeehaw.
600-700cfs commercial cutoff. people do lowH20 runs of course, but its a long day, and very technical for a raft. Rock garden has a nasty sieve/ rock fence called the northwest passage/three sisters that you have to ferry right above. its the only lowh20 raft line.
guide book (and sensible) cutoff = 800cfs.
1000cfs and up the box is really fun III+ & IV. Rowable above 1000cfs no problem in a 14'. its still a small river, but good to go.
RC= 6 miles 1-3 hours;
Box = 17 miles 4-6 hours (start early and plan for cold boater butt and consider the upstream wind)
The safest way to approach the LTB is as wilderness run, to go with someone who Knows the lines, and carries good first aid,pin, and sweep gear. It is truly a 600' deep box canyon with no easy egress for probably 13-14 miles of the 17. (unless you like poison ivy, loose scree and soloing chossy basalt to get to a mesa top 5-10 miles walk from Taos)
Two boat trips are a good for safety, and starting by 1000 to get out before dark. High water runs can be 3-4 hours, but normal would 4-6 with scouting and lunch.
LTB is 12 miles of class II with a rapid every now and then, and 5-6 miles of class III+ and IV.
The flatwater is not pleasant for playboats. It hurts. river runner or Creek boat is the way to go for comfort and (and For me for the safety )
It is a beautiful, one of a kind daytrip, but I would tag along with another trip or catch a ride with a commercial trip to learn the lines, and have lunch, safety, and shuttle taken care of.
speaking of shuttle...allow 1 hour to take care of it, or call Pilar Yacht club for their shuttle.(in season) (505-758-9072) Private trips should meet a the take out, and go up the west side of the river by Carson and back across the Gorge bridge to Arroyo Hondo. that road on top of the mesa is paved now, so its a lot better. saves about 1/2 hour on the shuttle.
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