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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Buzzards. OK I know it's a little early to get excited about runoff when the snow is just getting started but.... It's looking like the southern mountains are going to get hit this year and I've been looking to run (cataraft) the lower Taos Box for a while now. I'll probably tack on some of the lower water for a 2-3 day trip. Maybe the Chama too? I've read a few descriptions but would love to hook up with someone who knows the river and is looking to run it this spring at peak. Anyone have a good guess at runoff time? Have a couple of people from Carbondale / Glenwood who would join. Lets talk if your interested
 

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Hell Yeah

Been eagar to hit Taos box for years now. I would be interested in putting something together for sure. Never heard of the Chama though.
 

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Box Beta

FOr LTB info I strongly recommend Paul Bawer's book: The Rio Grande Guide Book at nrs.com
There are lots of fun sections of just about every class, the sections above the LTB are difficult to access (long steep hikes and/or remote roads where it's not recommended to leave a vehicle)

Typically it's run in a day with lots of developed camping near the takeout (Orilla Verde): Orilla Verde

You could load up your raft, but it's easier to car camp and not have to run a loaded raft down the box.

The Chama has permit and day sections below El Vado, which are dam released - typically flows on weekends for recreation. There's also a short season section above El Vado that's rarely run due to takeout difficulties (Lake paddle or steep hike). All Chama sections are class II to III-.
 

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You definitely want as much water as possible. Just be aware that in a low snow year, the water will peak in late March/early April because the irrigation diversions upstream turn on in early April. The Rio will only run high after early April if there is a big snowpack (which there has not been the past few years).
 

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Agreed with all of that. Do get on the LTB, it's an amazing and gorgeous run. One of the few true wilderness day stretches with some good gradient and whitewater, especially at higher flows. There is plenty of good State Park or other camping at the takeout and all around the Taos area.
For river camping in NM, the best is to get a permit for the Chama. The water is a bit more tame than the LTB, but the scenery if definitely worth it.
There is a NM Whitewater Kayakers facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/311286975604339/
Yes, it says kayaking, but all the locals there are super nice and can help out with any beta too. Folks will be calling out for rafting plans there come the spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the beta guys. Super stoked. For those who said they were interested I'll reach out again in the spring.
 

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Hey Jeff - It's been a few years since I've been to Taos, so yeah, I'm game for a trip down there next year. I don't think Scott has ever been there.
 

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I ran (rafted) lower taos box for the first time last season and have a hankering to get back there next season. Last year I hit it in march and flows were nice. Keep in touch
 

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Abron Cabron
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'sup y'all... I know the run pretty well, and am always down for a lower box trip, if my days off match up...
also be aware that water debts get paid back all winter, so if its a dry winter (hopefully not if el nino Gordo sticks around) the box is runnable all winter in kayaks or even small rafts. if its wet then the ice factor would be scary. better to
its super fun creeky III + at the 500-900 range, much easier in tupperware then rafts. Powerline is the only real concern... below 500 cfs it is very manky, and its pretty much a portage unless one is creative.
for rafting 1000 + is a blast... it just gets really tight and pinn-y at low flows. can be done R2-4, with good paddlers but its challenging for sure.
 

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'sup y'all... I know the run pretty well, and am always down for a lower box trip, if my days off match up...
also be aware that water debts get paid back all winter, so if its a dry winter (hopefully not if el nino Gordo sticks around) the box is runnable all winter in kayaks or even small rafts. if its wet then the ice factor would be scary. better to
its super fun creeky III + at the 500-900 range, much easier in tupperware then rafts. Powerline is the only real concern... below 500 cfs it is very manky, and its pretty much a portage unless one is creative.
for rafting 1000 + is a blast... it just gets really tight and pinn-y at low flows. can be done R2-4, with good paddlers but its challenging for sure.
So this video claims 375 CFS and they are running what appears to be 10' rafts. Is that Powerline @ 01:20?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsUuj_fVRNM
 

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That is powerline at 1:20 that they are lining the boats down.

Generally the biggest "pool drop" rapids are YellowBank, Dead Car and Powerline.
All three of these are charaterized by pools above, horizon lines, and (from a kayaker perspective) a choice of entrance "chutes" that further block the horizon lines.

First, Yellowbank is a horizon line pool drop rapid. Regulars will boat scout it and run it.

Much later, and second is Deadcar. If you can see the powerlines down canyon, you are coming up on dead car. There is also Dead car over your right hand shoulder the bend before before the rapid.

Powerline is more or less under the power lines. It's the nastiest one, and not really tupperware safe below ~450/480

After Powerline the run picks up, and gets 3+ continuous, and you gotta be on the look out for sieves. This is the section that the regular kayaks love, and endure the paddle in for.
 

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You can extend your trip on the LTB a few ways.

Above the put-in at John Dunn Bridge there's a 6-8 mile run in gorgeous wilderness canyon (the run's called "La Junta"), rapids are not many but the max class is 3- depending on where you put-in. You can put-in at Red River and the run is class 3 down to John Dunn Bridge. Or, you can go upstream about 1-2 miles and catch a 3+ to 4 rapid (also called La Junta) at the very tail-end of the Upper Box run. The downfall with this run is for either put-in you have to descend 800 feet via switchback trail to get to the put-in. I'd say it's worth it, the scenery is amazing and it's as isolated as the LTB. The canyon is more open at first but towards the end it really narrows for a spectacular view from water level.

Below LTB there's basically three runs you can tack on. Immediately below the LTB take-out at Taos Junction Bridge is the Orilla Verde run, a class 2 (with lots of flat water) for 6.5 miles, down to Quartzite boat launch. Below Quartzite is the Race Course, a fun class 3 section with lots of rapids and a huge favorite for summer rafting companies. It's about 4.5 miles down to the take out at the County Line boat launch. Finally you can do another class 2 section for about 7 miles from County Line to either just above Embudo Station Bridge or just below the bridge to the Embudo Gage (the take out at the gage is along the main road, down a trail that runs from a road side pullout). Below Embudo the river is pretty flat and it's not too far before you hit a first of a series of diversion dams.
 
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