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On recent ski adventures to New Mexico I couldn't help but notice the beautiful geology of the Cimarron and Canadian River basins. According to Southwest Paddler, the Canadian has a 75 mile class III-IV canyon that runs from Taylor Springs to Conchas Lake...and the upper Cimarron has 25 miles of III-IV creeking.

Does anyone have any first-hand accounts of running either of these stretches? So far that part of New Mexico is off to a good start with their snowpack, so I am looking ahead at possible new runs.

On a side note, I was wondering if anyone runs the Red River above Questa? Looked like it could be a III-IV creek with a couple possibly bigger drops near the Moly mine....

I am looking at possibly getting a Jackson Journey or LL Remix XP for doing multi-day trips like the Canadian...

Thanks for any and all info.

Here is a photo of the Canadian River Canyon that I found online, looks like a very scenic trip.

 

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Logan,

That Southwest Paddler [ and the New Mexico Gazeteer ] seems to just recycle info from the old New Mexico guidebook from like 1983 .It lists 2 runs on each ;Eagles Nest down on the Cimarron is supposed to be class III -IV and a lower I -II run.I think the intermediate point is the town of Cimarron.It seldom runs and is choked with wood ,i've heard. There is camping along parts of it and might be some runnable parts.


The upper Canadian above Springer is flat through ranch land. East of Springer is the upper put in for the section that supposedly has III -IV ,I SURE AS HELL WOULD NOT LEAVE A CAR THERE! It looks really lame up there anyway. Somewhere in the next 75 miles are allegedly continuous 3-4 rapids.I have studied the gazeteer and better topos a gazillion times.I think the best rapids must be in the canyon above Mills campground and/or down near the Mora confluence.I went down river from Mills a couple miles at 430 cfs[ book says 400-1000 cfs best] there was a rapid at put in that was 3 ish but only some 2- after that. i had to carry a boat a couple miles back to the campground.I didn't have time to scout above and signs said private property.You can break up the run at Mills apx .30 miles from Springer and another 12-15 miles apx. at the road from Wagon Mound,so you could easily do that as a day run that may or may not be worth a damn. I f you can catch it with water,rare. The scenery is pretty good typical southwest.That pic looks like the part I ran /right by Mills campground. There is BLM land and state land that must be accessible to the public somehow above Mills, so you don't have to paddle a bunch of flat through private property and overnight. That is the puzzle to solve,and might not be where the rapids are.Google earth has not been too helpful because it is always low water. Maybe new better res now.


That book also talks about the Mora as having some tougher[ iv -vi/p] rapids above the confluence. Similar access issues but it looks like a wicked canyon on topos. The Canadian rapids may be around there as well. Atom once posted that he ran the Canadian at 2000 + and found no good rapids,but didn't say where .


That book also talks about the best rapids on the Red being up at the top by Moly, and at the end ,the run in other books that you have to paddle a bunch of flat water on the RG to finish or a brutal carry out.If these ever actually ran i'd be interested in exploring it with you.

Jay
 

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Abron Cabron
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Yeah Atom is the only person I know in NM who has actually ran the Canadian. It is so far out of the way, its hard to get serious about it. (unless theres water.) I would love to check it out someday just cause I want to know every nook and cranny of NM (that is paddle, ski,bike or climb-able)

Another run in that area I have thought about trying to do is the Pecos River from Villanueva state park to Tecolotito. it is west of Las Vegas off I-25. its been done before, and has some III/ IV- maybe, and also a diversion dam somewhere in there. its 17 miles, and should be above 400 cfs. Also not a good 'car leaving' put-in or take out.
!Orale...!Cuidado bro! ;)

The Red River is pretty stout! (for me :rolleyes: ) I dont know about the upper stretch at all, except that it is a superfund site at the mine there, which is nasty, but it all flows downstream,into the Rio...so I guess I've been swimming in it my whole life. and I am OK....I think.

the class IV section is 4miles from the hatchery south of Questa to the confluence with the Rio Grande. It runs From 100 cfs and above (110-150 is optimal according to my buddy Yellowbird who has done it many times) above 150cfs its class V (i think) and very continuous. I did it at 90 cfs with him and it was very pinny and fast. there is lots of wood, and poison Ivy at the one portage we had (due to low water) . kind of sketchy little scout there. it is beautiful in there, but i would want to have someone who knew the lines still to run it again.

90 was pretty much too low, but we did it anyway, cause I really wanted to check it, and he was game for one last run for the season. (for some stupid reason I feel safer at low water in creeks...)
The paddle out to John Dunn Bridge is 8 miles, and is very pretty. It is the Middle Taos Box, and there is actually 3 class III rapids. If you have good flow in the Rio it will be easy. If it's low and windy, it could really suck. I just brought a beer or two for the float and enjoyed it, although it was getting dark by the end...

IMO the RR is solid class IV although I only saw it lowlow.it s definitely the at the upper end of my creeking abilities. It is actually a lot cleaner with a bit more water. the Hike out to Cebolla Mesa would be pretty brutal. it is the same take out hike for the UTB i think. I have done it to camp out but not boating. BTW.... killer little spot to camp there at the confluence. just not car-camping of course. amazing isolated spot with bouldering, hiking, fishing, swimming etc....great family spot.

My NM wishlist (class IV creeking) :
Rio Santa Cruz (done it, but it should flow for a little while this year i hope!)
Lower Rio Brazos (somewhere above Corkins [email protected] 3miles i think)
class IV Gilman Gorge section (except vertical Monkey :shock:)
Upper Chama
Razorblades on the Rio Grande.
maybe the upper box of the Rio Embudo, if I ever get my self to that level.
Definitely more Lower Taos Box too. (we did a sketchy hike in last summer, to power line. Its good for an epic if youre into that type of fun :mrgreen:

I would also love to get on the Salt, and while i am down there maybe the Gila, and explore more of AZ and CO. I will definitely be up to BV for paddlefest!

PM Atom about getting his video guide to NM if you're interested. It has great footage of all the best (class V) in NM. It should also be on New Mexico H2O - A journey through the whitewater creeks of Northern New Mexico

Here is a couple pics from the Red at 90 cfs ( thats 'Bird in the photos) the one paddling pic is the bottom of the low water portage (triple drop?)
and the last pic is at the confluence. I definitely want to explore it again!
 

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Thanks Abron. I have Atom's video, and I am familiar with the regularly run stretch of the Red. I have skied the RR ski area twice lately and it looked like there was some runnable whitewater above Questa, near the Moly mine and downstream, and was curious if anyone has ever boated it, or at least got a visual of it during runnoff? I'm surprised that you say the Canadian and Cimarron are "so far out of the way"...I live in Colorado and am willing to come explore them if their flowing...The Pecos sounds interesting, I will look into that.

Cayo, I saw the old thread of yours about the Canadian that Atom chimed in on about running it back in 99' and not finding any rapids - http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/re-new-mexico-runs-3734.html -
I would be curious as to where he launched and took-out....you know, if the scenery is like the picture I posted I don't care if it's class I-II the whole way. It looks and seems to me like a very scenic multi-day float through what is nearly wilderness. I guess I will just have to watch the gauges and go for it.
 

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Good work, Logan. I've been looking at Utah runs. The LL boyze self supporting on the Grand really is an inspiration for multi day stuff out of a hard shell.
 

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Ay Caramba ! I must've been triple trashed when I wrote that. I am surprised Atom could even decipher that .He does give a clue ; that it is down by the Mora and has some III . I suspect two things; one that the ratings are old school and we would downgrade it to II -III now,and two that stuff may have been washed out at 2500. Since no one has done it in a long time, there could be new rapids from flash floods on side creeks. The authors seemed to think it had considerably better rapids than the Chama Wilderness or Gila,which are both popular.So it could be a good scenic float spiced up with some III, it is a stretch to call anything on the Gila or Chama wilderness runs a III.

Abron, You ever check out the upper Pecos? Around Cowles and Terrero is a nice fast but non technical III run with wood issues that runs more often than the other runs we are talking about. Very pretty area ,apparently real good fishing too. Should be in book. I always wondered about Razorblades too. Lower Brazos is just below Corkins,was cranking when i was there ,looked similar to the U Pecos,but a little steeper with less wood. ELFin the Red sounds fun to me. There is a canyon between the Brazos and the Chama Wilderness run that i thought was better than the permitted run.PI at Plaza Blanca fishing access to TO at Heron Dam spillway od El Vado res.

Logan, i looked at that book again ,the 25 miles is just the upper Cimarron ,from Eagle's Nest to Cimarron. A town ,Ute Park,may have manmade hazzards. Most of it is roadside,part in a state park,and it says 3-4+ so even if it is down graded now it might be 3+/4- in spots. If you want to run exceptionally scenic runs, even if they are just floats ,you must check out the Muddy and Grand Canyon of the San Rafael in Utah.
 

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Since no one has done it in a long time, there could be new rapids from flash floods on side creeks. The authors seemed to think it had considerably better rapids than the Chama Wilderness or Gila,which are both popular.So it could be a good scenic float spiced up with some III, it is a stretch to call anything on the Gila or Chama wilderness runs a III.
I agree, all the more reason to check it out if it flows.

There is a canyon between the Brazos and the Chama Wilderness run that i thought was better than the permitted run.PI at Plaza Blanca fishing access to TO at Heron Dam spillway od El Vado res.
Is this the same run referred to as the "Mama Chama"? I have been invited to do that by Cadster before, but was unable to join. Sounded like a nice II+ stretch with an easy III...

Logan, i looked at that book again ,the 25 miles is just the upper Cimarron ,from Eagle's Nest to Cimarron. A town ,Ute Park,may have manmade hazzards. Most of it is roadside,part in a state park,and it says 3-4+ so even if it is down graded now it might be 3+/4- in spots. If you want to run exceptionally scenic runs, even if they are just floats ,you must check out the Muddy and Grand Canyon of the San Rafael in Utah.
What book is it that you are referring to Jay? Thanks for the info....I am looking into doing some of the better floats in Utah in the next couple seasons as well, but New Mexico is closer to me, and doesn't get as reliable of moisture....so seeing as how they are getting snow this year, I thought it was time to discuss NM.
 

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Yes it is the one with 'Big Mama Chama' but i don't remember many rapids of consequence,always wondered if we got out to early.It is a sweet canyon though ,something like 1300 or 1100 feet deep with towering Brazos Cliff like walls.

The book [ more like a pamphlet ] was put out by the New Mexico State Parks[ i think, i don't have it here ] in 1983. It has maybe 25-30 runs, many of which nobody does anymore mostly because they seldom have water. Some of their beta seems old school and some pretty accurate. They were definitely afraid of tight creeks. In all of the pictures they are in old 13 ft. tanks or tub rafts . Some folks were already doing the Embudo and Upr.Taos Box though.
 

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Some years ago we were doing the lower box and headed over to run the Piedra when someone had the guide book out and suggested we do that run with "Big Mama Chama" and a bunch of rapids. We did the run from the highway and it was only moving water with Big Mama being a low class 2 at best, the real deal tho is the paddle out across the lake. Late afternoon and we had gale force winds in our faces. I do not recommend this run unless a person has a outboard equipped big boat to do the lake crossing.
 

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okie,

We got out at Heron spillway . You carry up a steep ass hill. Not that far but steep ,probably not doable for even a small paddle raft.I thought you could get out just before El Vado [ guess it depends where you park] but there are mud flats at end of the run or something. The books are full of it about the rapid ratings.Both Doug Wheat and the Western Whitewater book say it has 3-4 rapids [ old NM BOOK SAID 2-3 ], those are generally good books but come on. One has a map showing the rapids just above and below Heron with Big Mama one mile upstream,i barely remember any rapids. I would not discourage anyone from running it as a scenic day run,just don't expect good rapids and avoid the lake paddle i guess. The dirt road by El Vado is as treacherous as any road i've ever been on when it is wet. It is clay and cars were spinning off the road .We were in my friend's Blazer and fishtailing all over even going slow
 

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Logan

Hey Logan, Lenny here. I would love to get on some of these new runs with you. Let me know if/when you are serious about putting together a trip and I will do whatever is needed. Love running new rivers and maybe this could finally be our chance to finally boat together. Self-support is always a kick.

Lenny.
 

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Hey Logan, Lenny here. I would love to get on some of these new runs with you. Let me know if/when you are serious about putting together a trip and I will do whatever is needed. Love running new rivers and maybe this could finally be our chance to finally boat together. Self-support is always a kick.
Hey Lenny. As of now I am planning to invest in a whitewater touring boat...now I am thinking a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 Tsunami 140 - Wilderness Systems Kayaks
for comfort in up to class III water. On the tick list are the Canadian and Gila, as well as White Rock Canyon on the Rio in NM...the Verde Wilderness Run in AZ...Muddy Creek Chute, the Little Grand Canyon, Escalante Creek and some runs on the Co and Green in Utah...

there are a few new whitewater runs I am hoping to tick off this season too, but the wilderness self-support trips are on my mind at the moment. I will give you a shout when it's time to get things going...for now, apply for permits!
 

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Logan,

Hi -I am Eric from Silver City(Gila country)-If you and some friends get down here, I would love to show you the Gila. The Middle Box is fun class III+ (at 600 cfs and up) run of about 18 miles and the wilderness run is a 40 mile class II run that is absolutely beautiful.

Eric
 

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Logan,

Hi -I am Eric from Silver City(Gila country)-If you and some friends get down here, I would love to show you the Gila. The Middle Box is fun class III+ (at 600 cfs and up) run of about 18 miles and the wilderness run is a 40 mile class II run that is absolutely beautiful.

Eric
Thanks Eric. I have been interested in the Gila for a couple of years now, probably should have done it in the winter of 08/09....but hindsight is 20/20...if it is looking like things are going to go off I would drive down at the drop of a hat. However, it would have to be over the weekend. I could probably swing a Thursday through Sunday trip, but that would be about the extent of it.

Logan 719-229-9333
 

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Abron Cabron
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‎"The snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin currently is about 85 percent of the 30-year average. The Canadian Basin is at 96 percent, and the Pecos, on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is at 93 percent.
Southern New Mexico is faring better than usual. The Mimbres Basin has a snowpack at 146 percent of average, while the upper Gila and San Francisco Mountains are at 99 percent." today from the Santa Fe New Mexican... (borrowed from Atom's post on FB...)


:mrgreen:
 

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Looking pretty good down there. According to the data I just looked up the NRCS reports the Canadian/Cimarron Basin to be at 121% of average.....http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/data/water/wcs/gis/maps/nm_swepctnormal_update.pdf.......

I am thinking very hard about driving down soon for a 2 night float on the Arizona Gila Box. Still trying to find some more beta on the Canadian, and I think I might have a lead. This website, PaddleOn ,mentions boating the Canadian before, so I am going to send him a message and see what I can come up with.
 

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Abron:
Thanks for the low water pics of the Red. I have allways been told to run above 250cfs, but it looks like a proper low water creek. Will be checking it out this season for sure. One little thing I have noticed about a lot of the publish flow info for NM creeks is that the optimal level seems to be a flood stage level. Many of them can be run lower. I am SE boater so I like low and technical, not big and floody. Think we would have few more creek boaters in the state if they learned to love the low flow.

For instance, Santa Cruz is boatable down to 90cfs, I prefer 130cfs as the willow tunnels are not too high. 1130cfs is enough water to push you around. Recommended published flow is above 200cfs, the willows choke you out when it gets high.

I have run the Embudo as low as 47cfs (on the pueblo gauge) low flow and slow but boatable all the way down. You can run it July if you like mank. 70 cfs on the gauge below is way better. My cuttoff is 150cfs. (aprox 3.2ft old school stick gauge)

USGS Real-Time Water Data for USGS 08277470 RIO PUEBLO NR PENASCO, NM


I ran the Guadalupe in 2009 at the tail end of flood season, would guess there was 250cfs in it or so. Did not run the vertical monkey. Hard to tell as the gauge is at the confluence of the Jemez River. More water the better for that one. Lots of wood if you go. One mandatory portage (V NR). In sequence III+, III+ (V NR), IV x 3, III+, the walk out after the last gorge. Too many willows and beaver dams to take it all the way to vertical monkey.

The Jemez from Battleship rock to Soda Dam is worth it once or twice. Only one real rapid (III+), the rest is fast bouncy water. Run it as high as possible. We hit it around 600cfs in 2009.

Canadian, never done it. Climb around there a lot. A possible day run would be Mills Canyon Campground to Highway 120. Near Roy NM. I think it's 14 miles or so. You could break it up into a multi-day trip. Maybe you could work out shuttle with the hotel in town?

Rio Chama from Los Ojos to Footbridge, ran at 2000cfs last season, nothing but a II+ float. Took less than 2 hours that flow. Hike at the foot bridge to avoid the lake.

I also suspect the upper reaches of the Rio Pueblos is a really good creek at around 200cfs or so. Will be checking it out this season.

Let me know if you need better beta, or want someone to run a few of these creeks with, this spring.

Updated Snowtel Data for NM

New Mexico SNOTEL Snowpack Comparison Update Report

Hope it says cold for a few more months.
 

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Thanks for that info Eurotrash, good stuff to know.

I finally got some reliable information from someone who has boated the Canadian before:

"We put in due east from Springer where US Hwy 56/412 cross and it was a solid 75 miles or so until it hit NM 419. Starts off slow but quickly turns into a sweet canyon. Most drops were like on the green through Deso/gray....kind of debris flow constriction rapids that suck at low water but some cliff shots that suck at high water. We took 5 days but we had three rafts and I kayaked. One massive ugly wrap that took half a day to z rig off. Kayaks are way easy other than self support but with kayaks it would be a great two night/three day trip."

Apparently he used a gas station near the takeout for shuttle....
 
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