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Old 03-28-2012   #1
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
Rio Grande in April


My fiancee' and I are planning a long weekend in and around Taos the last weekend in April. We are going to get some new mexico boating in before we leave the four corners to move back to the midwest.

I see the water levels are right on as of now, what can we expect, or hope to expect the last weekend of April? Will the water still be on this particular year? Will the flows be too high?

We will be running a 14 foot SB oar rig, and we are solid class III+, IV- boaters, but don't mind stepping up if we run into some folks out that way who could show us down a run or two.

I am thinking the race course for sure, and possibly the La Junta run...we have a trailer, and may plan to run laps on Pilar if time allows. What is worth the time/effort for the most fun and enjoyment?

Brass Tacks: We would really like to run the lower box, but are a little this within our league at the anticipated water level, or should we cut our losses and stay on the race course?

any and all info would be SWEET...Thanks in advance.


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Old 03-28-2012   #2
Taos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8
I would not worry about the water being to high, never seen the Rio Grande to high, the higher the better. the only way you can run from La Junta down is to carry your boat down a mile long trial (14ft boat = no go). The race course is fun (class 3) and a super easy shuttle. The lower box is class 4 and a much harder shuttle, but super fun.

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Old 03-28-2012   #3
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
thanks....keep the info coming



So that rules out La Junta...we will plan on the race course for sure, now o to the box...

We have the guide book, and are in the process of learning all we can. We did the Delores last summer, and are fairly confident on read and run type stuff...but is this too far beyond us at this time?

Speaking of long would you foresee the race course taking? What about the box? trying to get a guage on how to set up our trip.

Thanks again.

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Old 03-28-2012   #4
Taos, New Mexico
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 34
Racecourse should only be a few hours of boating. It's easy to hitch a ride for the shuttle from county line to quartzite, which is ~5 miles.

Box will be a full day on the water (~6+ hrs.) and shuttle will require logistical coordination. Try the Yacht Club in Pilar for commercial shuttle service or try to coordinate at the put-in/take out with other private boaters.

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Old 03-28-2012   #5
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 599
Taos Box will probably not be too high (over 2000) at the end of April. If you are good at scouting from the boat, and good and making the boat maneuver, you should have enough time to see the rapids from the water and read & run them.

Powerline, however, should be scouted from the right side.
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Old 03-28-2012   #6
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95

Great info...

Having watched a few videos online and re-consulted the guidebook, I think we will go for the lower box that sat.

We can manuever the boat just fine, and feel confortable in tight and technical water.

How would you compare this run to Browns?

I do beleive we will utilize one of thise shuttle companies as well and just limit that stress from the equation.

Thanks, and keep the info coming.

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Old 03-28-2012   #7
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 599
It is quite comparable to Brown's, maybe TBox gives you a little more time above a rapid to have a look at it.
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Old 03-28-2012   #8
Placitas, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 40
lower box

The word on the lower box is that it is real tough under 1,200. I've been trying to hit it a 1,500 the last two years but it's only been at that flow for a few days in last two years. Rico at the Yacht Club can hook you up with a shuttle. I want to start with the race course as a warm up and then go for the Lower Box. You can get a little more river time if you put in up at the Taos Junction bridge above the Race Course. Ya it pretty flat through that stretch. The Course is always a good time.
Best of Luck
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Old 03-28-2012   #9
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594

If you really want a float section you can put in at the take out of the Box (Taos junction Bridge- TJB) and float 5 miles (with 2 class II rapids ) down to quartzite- the put in for the Race course, or combine them for a longer day. We do that on commercial trips when the water is up to make the trip actually last long enough. (really half ,from lone juniper put in.) there is good pay camping in that section, from next to TJB down to lone juniper. you could then finish the box by floating to camp. pretty sweet! watch out for poison Ivy in the Box and around the last rapid (Sunset) at the confluence of the Rio Pueblo. theres ACRES of it on the first half of the box. all float up there though- no need to be on the bank. theres also lots of bighorn nowadays.

The LTB is really technical under 1000cfs and a 12' raft is much better, or tupperware. also Rowing at that level is pretty tough. we (the company i work for) cut off trips at about 700 or below. it can be kayaked down to 400-600 but its bony and a loooong day. can hike/lower/climb kayaks into powerline too, but its fairly epic. unless you like challenges like that :]
the 'teens' 1500-2500 is maybe a more difficult but fun level. the rapids are not washed out, have big holes and all the features are in full effect, but its still technical it gets really big around 3000 but cleaner. thats one of my favorite levels. powerline is HUGE at 3-4000cfs .. Powerline sort of flattens out at higher levels. the highest i guided it was at 6000 cfs in 2005. the highest i have kayaked it is 1500. I always cautious every time i go in there because its one way in and out...pretty much. there is usually always people to follow. its really better to not do a one boat trip, in case of a rescue can call an outfitter to join a trip, but there will be privates every day if the water is still up.

The most serious part of the box is the last 1/3 or 6-ish miles from powerline down. 'the hour of power'. it gets pretty continuous, more so then Browns, more like the Royal Gorge but maybe more technical. So the list is:
From John Dunn bridge
float (by 2 hot springs )
Mile 4-ish: Ski jump III+
High Bridge rapid AKA Trash rapid. III-
Yellow Bank III+ (IV at low water)
Playground class II-III @ 6 miles
Dead Car Class III-IV
Powerline falls III-IV
Pinball/Rockgarden Class IV w/ V- consequence (depending who you ask.) sieve bottom right- this is the toughest rapid IMO. Move R-L !
boogie water/Cathy's Cleaver II-III
Boat Reamer III-IV
Punk Rock/ Screaming Left/Rio Bravo /Screaming Right (@ 1 mile long continuous class IV section.)
Float for a mile
Sunset IV

State Park float 5 miles
Race course/Pilar run 5-6 miles class II-III (IV > 4000cfs)
Taos county line Takeout
Embudo float 8 miles- ish.
White rock float
Albuquerque>>>Big Bend>>>Mexico

So I i would definitely recommend doing it, but go with someone who knows the lines, and it will be a pleasant time.
Hopefully this helps as a rough guide for you. theres of course different opinons on the difficulty, but as a class III/IV- kayaker I dont think i am sandbagging it. its challenging for me. i am more comfortable guiding a raft then kayaking, at high water for sure, or i was last time it was huge,but i am working on that...:]

hope the water sticks around, but its really warming up here.the the Rio is friggin sweet right now...!
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Old 03-29-2012   #10
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95


Thanks for all the sweet info, that is exactly what I was looking/hoping for. Everyone has given me some great ideas. The rapid list is great. Thanks all again.

I'm thinkin kinda play it by ear and wait and see the water much as I do want to step it up and also try a new run, I don't want to get into trouble.

If the water level looks conducive, we will go for the lower box, if not then we will run the race course, possibly laps.

One more thing...what about dogs on the Rio? We will most likely have our pups with us, and I was wondering if dogs were legal, and what your experiences with them were.

Keep this sweet info coming, thanks again. Possibly we will run into some of you at the put-in and follow you down.


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