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Old 02-26-2016   #1
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 3
New in New Mexico - looking for water!

Hey All!

I just moved to Santa Fe from Missoula, MT, and needless to say the water supply is a bit less down this way! I have a 14'3" AIRE and yesterday I pulled a permit for the Grand Canyon in October 2017. I'd really like to get on the water this spring and start getting my chops up for next year's trip. Does anyone have any suggestions on weekend or 4/5 day trips in the region? Even day floats would be great. I'll take all the insight I can get! Thanks!

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Old 02-26-2016   #2's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 491
Sorry to hear about your loss. I assume you were forced to leave at gun point. Congrats of the GC I'm sure that will ease the moving pain.

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life on or off the river. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2016   #3
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 44
The Chama is a fun trip with great campsites if you can get a permit.
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Old 02-26-2016   #4
jimr's Avatar
Donkey Town, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 144
Chama, pecos and rio grand by Taos is about all you got

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Old 02-26-2016   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 727
You're gonna have to go north. Hit the other Colorado Plateau sections from Ruby/HT through Cataract, Dinosaur, and Deso. The Dolores sounds like it might have a season this year, but that may turn out to be a very interesting trip seeing that nobody has run it for a decade or so. The season among the Colorado alpine sections like Piedra, Ark, Animas, Shoshone, etc should all be decent. Idaho is a long way. Not sure of conditions in Cali.

So in short, your best options are Colo and Utah.
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Old 02-26-2016   #6
Rojo's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 184
Best prep for GC style rapids would be Cataract Canyon, maybe West Water.
Other nearby options are small but fun and good practice for boat handling skills Animas, Piedra, San Juan at Pagosa.
Lower Chama Daily, Lower Taos box and the race course section at Pilar are closest options if Rio G is above 800 cfs.
Hit up the Adobe Whitewater Club, based in Albuquerque, but many active members, even some in SF.

Oh, and get an IK or kayak for more river time here in NM.
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Old 02-26-2016   #7
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Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 484
You can do the Salmon day stretch through Riggins. Some of the rapid get real big at high flows. You don't need a permit, there is good camps even at high flows. Long way from home though.

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Old 02-27-2016   #8
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 42
Hi sullyP! I moved to Albuquerque to go to grad school fall '14 so I'm still learning about the available runs. And there's a lot of runs!

Well, first off, let me introduce you go two groups that know the rivers well: Adobe White Water Club and the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Kayak Meet-Up. Tlhe meet-up explores a lot of the Rio Grande (a bunch of your New Mexico rafting near Santa Fe is on the Rio Grande), and parts of the lower Chama that aren't run often. The Adobe White Water Club meets in Albuquerque every 2nd Tuesday of each month. It's a great group, lots of boaters interested in GC runs, Utah runs, and San Juan runs.

The two "main" rivers near Santa Fe are the Chama and the Rio Grande. For the Rio Grande I recommend the guide book The Rio Grande by Paul Bauer. He describes all the runs from Colorado down to Cochiti Reservoir (south of Santa Fe), as well as the geology of the region.

The Rio Grande has a great selection of runs from Wild Rivers Park (near Questa, NM) down to the Embudo gauge (just up stream from the community of Velarde, just down stream from the community of Embudo, about an hour at most from Santa Fe). From Wild Rivers, putting-in at Little Arsenic trail, you have a class 3 wilderness run (with one class 4 which you can avoid by putting-in about a mile downstream at Red River). And it's a wilderness run, no roads or anything, just beautiful scenery and towards the end narrow, tall gorge walls. The take-out is John Dunn Bridge. The run is called "La Junta" or the "Middle Box'.

The next run is the 15 mile Lower Taos Box, probably the most famous run in the state. It's class 4/4+ in a wilderness canyon (again, no roads or anything, just a place where power lines cross high above on the rim of the canyon). The gorge itself is breath-taking to behold if you drive north into Taos from Santa Fe: a desert valley with a monstrous vertical crack running down the middle. That crack is where the LTB trip is. You float under the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, a famous engineering landmark in New Mexico (if not the most famous actually, an I'm not embellishing!). For all the river guide services in the area, this is the premier run to make. And you don't need to draw a lottery permit. You might have to register, but that's it: as long as there's water, you're good to go. The take is Taos Junction Bridge.

After the LTB there's a slower stretch called the Orilla Verde, from Taos Junction Bridge (TJB) to Quartzite. It's class 2, 6.5 miles and very scenic. There's a road that runs along the river but it's not very busy. I took my folks on a trip there one evening and we saw a handful of beaver, including one that was the size of a small-medium sized dog.

Below Orilla Verde is probably the most popular section of white water in the state, the class 3/3+ Race Course. It's 4.5 miles and with some friends helping with shuttle you can get several runs in a day. The run is from Quartzite to County Line boat ramp.

The Bosque run is about 7 miles from County Line to Embudo gage (though most people take-out just above the Embudo Station Bridge). It's class 2 and it's nice to do on an easy going afternoon.

Below the Bosque the river passes through a bunch of diversion dams and makes for not the best boating, though doable. The last run is the White Rock Canyon run, a 19 mile desert canyon wilderness stretch. I've heard good things about it, haven't run it yet. The river flows past Bandelier National Monument. It's about class 3 (with one class 4 when the water is right).

There's more boating upstream, such as the Upper Taos Box (class 5/5+) and the Razor Blades (class 4). You're close to Colorado now and there's a couple class 2 runs (including a twenty-some mile wilderness run) just over the border.

The Rio Chama isn't far from you at all, maybe an hour/hour-and-a-half. There's an 8 mile stretch from Chavez Canyon to Big Eddy that's class 3-, or you can put-in upstream to tack-on . The lower 8 miles you don't need a permit for but the upper 23 you do. The Chama canyon is very different from the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande flows through a rift that has seen lots of volcanic activity. The Rio Chama flows through sandstone canyons with all the different colored layers (red, brown, yellow) and forests growing way-up on top. I love that canyon, definitely recommend it! I haven't done the wilderness section yet on the Chama, but there's trees there, forests and trees (I'm from Oregon originally, the love of trees has stayed with me).

The other rivers I don't know too well. I did 18 miles of the Canadian (which rarely runs) last summer. There's the Upper Pecos, not too far from Santa Fe, the Gila wilderness run down south near Silver City. k, when it gets enough water, provides a class 5 run. If you head for the northwest of the state you have the San Juan River (and forks) and Animas River. Farmington, where the San Juan flows through, has a white water park. Just over the border in Colorado you aren't very far from the (4 hours to Buena Vista from Santa Fe per Google) or the (3 hours, 20 minutes per Google).

Hope that helps!
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Old 02-27-2016   #9
mtriverrat's Avatar
Lewistown, middle of MT
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 222
When can you start running Lower Taos Box usually?
If you lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. Winnie the Pooh
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Old 02-27-2016   #10
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 42
Originally Posted by mtriverrat View Post
When can you start running Lower Taos Box usually?
If you don't mind the cold water you could run it now. I guided on the Rio Grande last summer and the company I worked for put-in their last Box trip at around 550 - 600 cfs (I don't recall which level, 550 or 600, was the cutoff). Last year we had a set of late spring storms that raised the snow pack and allowed for LTB boating into August. There are some years though when the water is too low and you don't get an early/mid spring through summer window at all to speak of. At least one issue with lower water LTB runs is Power Line Falls. At low levels, below 550 - 600 cfs, you have to line or portage since the river doesn't send enough water over the boulders allowing a boat to scrape down. If lining/portaging at least Power Line isn't a problem you can do the LTB at levels lower than 550 - 600.

Lower Water LTB Run

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