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Old 03-03-2015   #1
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 224
Upper Rio Grande float

I did a camping trip down to Rio Grande Del Norte national monument a few weeks ago and was impressed with the canyon down by Taos. I am looking into planning an easy over-nighter on the rio which leads to a few questions.

Is there a long enough section to overnight out of boats and still avoid the (upper?) class V box? There are managed campsites along the river towards the very bottom of the canyon. If using these we might as well just raft to camp and the cars there. But I'd love to spend a night deeper in the canyon if possible. Also, any beta on flow windows/ season would be appreciated too.

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Old 03-03-2015   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
You could combine the La Junta stretch with the lower box...not sure about campsites.

Also might want to look at this thread and video Atom posted:

an often overlooked kayak self support trip in the SW..

You could take out at the Lee trail above the Razorblades or run them and hike out above the Upper Box. Could put in at Lasuases to lengthen it if you take out at Lee.

The new Rio Grande guidebook is excellent and worth purchasing.

GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 03-03-2015   #3
Issip's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 185
Buy the Guidebook

I second the new Guide Book by Paul Bauer - it will answer your questions and is one of the best guide books I've ever bought.

Permits are required for all the sections lmyers mentioned above except the lower box, but the permits are not usually difficult to obtain as the hikes into or out of the canyon keeps the crowds out (just call the Taos field office of the BLM for permits, I think they are free).

Shuttles can be tough as well, some of the access points are not advisable places to leave a vehicle unattended.
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Old 03-04-2015   #4
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 224
Thanks for the info! I am going to pick up the guidebook ASAP.
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Old 03-04-2015   #5
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 43
I am thinking about doing a two day, over night trip on the river trip in the Rio Grande Gorge. I plan on putting in at Lobato's Bridge in Colorado and taking out at Lee Trail. I have run this stretch before, we did camp in the canyon. Looking to go with 4 or 5 self supporting Kayakers or IK's. Looking at early June if you're interested contact me. Vern
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Old 03-05-2015   #6
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
I would love to do the Lobatos to Lee's Selfsupport. I have always wanted to check out the Razorblades section, but its pretty out of the way on its own. the flows are significantly lower up by the border, so its harder to catch. I am down to go if the timing works out..! I really dont know much about that section at all, but I know some folks who do, and I have the Bauer guide too to study up on.

The other overnighter that LMeyers mentioned, Middle Box (La Junta) into Lower Taos Box would be really cool. I am much more familiar with the LTB, as im sure others are, from guiding and kayaking it as day run.
well...other then hiking into the gorge with loaded boats, it would be really cool. but it would ramp up the adventure for sure.
It would require a two trips potentially, to hike gear. Cebolla Mesa trail is short and sweet. very steep, (same as the other upper box hikes) & comes down into the Confluence of the Red River and Rio Grande. It is a gorgeous (pun intended..?) spot on its own to spend a first night. I have backpacked in to camp there. there are multiple trails to hike, and fishing etc... and poison ivy. you can walk upstream to scout the last bit of the UTB.

if.... the Red was flowing.... and one was feeling froggy to run a MANKY Pinny Class IV basalt creek with a loaded creek boat- running the red in would be possible to avoid hiking.. (high flows and better skills then mine would probably be prerequisite... i guess if you were down to do that, upper box in would make more sense, so nevermind.)

The only other option i remember hearing about, to avoid hiking in at Cebolla Mesa is that there is another trail into La junta, On the west (river right) side, where the (really) old tractor hulk is abandoned by the river. I have heard that Taos outfitters hike their ducky trips in over there because its much easier, morte like an abandoned 4WD road. so thats an option too if I can figure out the access point. You would lose the Cebolla mesa/Red River confluence camp, which is nicer then anything downstream for the first night.

from the La Junta, you would float into the Lower Box, and after Ski Jump (first big III+ rapid) there is a big beach on River right. That is my companies unofficial lunch spot, and by far the best camp in the lower box for a second night.. You can see that one in Atom's Videos. Middle box to there would be a good distance, @ 8+ 4 for a 12 mile day.

below there is just rocky banks and rapids, with literally acres of Poison ivy. there are small emergency type camp beaches here and there but nothing as good.
that would make the third day @ 12 miles to paddle the best part of the LTB, and there is lots of camping options at the takeout too.
Thats my first best guess on how to plan it.
I also know of some potential shuttle drivers who are local to Pilar or have friends in Taos that might want to make some cash shuttling.

Another option is to paddle unloaded boats down the La junta, or Red and la junta. and leave a middle shuttle vehicle at John Dunn Bridge and camp the first night there. there are big open areas at least two camp spots, and vault toilets, but with road access, there is a lot more traffic/local interaction happenening. also black rock hot springs are 1/2 mile down from JDB.
I have been thinking about this trip for a long time, but never done it because, for locals its way easier to do a day run, and get back to civilization. i would be down for both trips though for sure.

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