Los Rios River Runners Blog

This is the blog for Los Rios River Runners of Taos, New Mexico. We provide family friendly rafting trips down the Rio Grande and Chama Rivers.

A family float down the Orilla Verde

August 09, 2015 01:02 pm

Today was a beautiful August day to be on the river, sunny in the morning but not too hot and then the monsoons came in the afternoon.  It just so happened that we had a morning Orilla Verde Float trip and my son and I were able to tag along, it helps that the river guide for that trip was also my husband.  We packed our trip and met our customers at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitors Center at 9:30 in the morning and off we went to the Taos Junction Bridge to begin our adventure.  At the bridge we unloaded our boat and all our gear, Eric gave us a safety talk and off we went.  The family that we were rafting with today were from Texas, there was dad Jason, mom Lisa and 4 year old daughter Ani.  Then there was our river guide Eric(my husband), myself, Jo, and our 4 year old son Cale.  It was so nice for the kids to have someone else their own age to play with on the boat.
And let me just say that you don't get much cuter than these two little ones!!! I'm a little biased of course being one of their mom's and all.  
We saw some wildlife, these geese were just out for a mid morning swim.  
As we headed into the gaging station rapid we treated it a little bit like a roller coaster, hands up in the air and giggles all around! 
The kids got hungry so we pulled out the snack on the boat, juicy watermelon, cantaloupe, chips, salsa and chocolate ship cookies.  So good!! 

After snack there was one more rapid and then the takeout was upon us.  Here is a quick shot of Lisa, Ani and Cale.  
At the takeout we ran into the photo girls from Southern Exposure, they take all of our rafting photos, and they took some family photos for us. 

Between the beautiful weather, 2 lovely families, and 4 year old friends, a great day was had by all!! We look forward to taking Jason, Lisa and Ani rafting again, hopefully on another beautiful New Mexico Day!

Family Adventure down the Middle Box

August 02, 2015 05:22 pm

As the Los Rios River Runners office manager, I do not get to boat enough.  The other day I got to go on my favorite trip the Middle Box Funyak Adventure.  I met the Burchett family, some of whom have been rafting with us before, at our boathouse at about 9:15am.  After making sure that everyone had water, appropriate footwear and everything they would need for a day on the river, off went in our Los Rios bus.  Here it is at the trailhead!

The Mid-Box Adventure always starts with a hike down into the gorge.  There are 3 different trails to traverse- Miner's Trail, Cebolla Mesa and Little Arsenic.  On this particular adventure, we chose to traverse Cebolla Mesa, a 1.25 mile trail down a steep gravelly trail with numerous switchbacks. Everyone carries their own paddle, PFD, and helmet.  Here are Dalton and Ceiara at the start of our journey.

The hike down was filled with beautiful views of the river and surrounding landscape.  There was one section of trail, a switchback, that had washed away during the recent rains, making it a little more adventurous.  We had to hike around and even OVER some large boulders that had washed over the trail.  We continued on until we met up with the river guides who were awaiting us in the bottom of the canyon at the river.  The guides leave early and meet Dirk, from Red River Stables, who provides us with the mules that sherpa the rest of the gear down to the river.  This trip required 17 boats, 2 lunch coolers, water and all of the guides' special guide gear.  On the beach, the guides gave us a vital safety speech and then we were ready to take off in our funyaks...but not before a group shot of the whole family and all the guides!!!

On the water is where the fun really begins!  The whole family hopped in their funyaks and off we went down the river.  Here is a candid shot of Grandma and Cindy, one of her daughters.  
Then we ran into a new rapid on the Middle Box section of river.  It was a waterfall with an island at the bottom, you can see Eric, one of our senior guides, standing on the island in the picture below.  It was fun to start the day with a new rapid that even I hadn't seen before, it definitely added even more adventure to our day!  
Then we were on to lunch.  After a long hike down and some funyaking, everyone was super hungry. The guides made a wonderful deli style lunch with tons of vegtables, the avocado was my favorite. Everyone built gigantic sandwiches from our pop-up sandwich buffet and enjoyed some chips and salsa followed by COOKIES!!! It was a nice break at the right time and positively hit the spot!  Once lunch was all cleaned up we were off again and floating down the river without leaving a trace!
Further along down the river, we saw big horn sheep as well as a multitude of birds.  My favorite bird, the Great Blue Heron, flew right by us and we chased it down river for a mile or so. Two osprey's circled above as we continued our adventure.  Here, you can watch us gawk up the side of the canyon at all of the awe inspiring native wildlife!  
On this section of river, there are two solid class 3 rapids; one is Horse Thief Shorty, the other is Garapata Rapid.  Garapata has some big waves and rocks.  Here is a picture of Carla crushing Garapata Rapid! 

And here is Horse Thief Shorty
After mastering the rapids, it was a pretty mellow float with some ripples and rocks to paddle around. By the end of the day, we even had some of the family confident enough to navigate the river standing up in the funyaks and using them like paddle boards! Check out Dalton in the picture below. 

When all was said and done, I'd say our day was not at all shabby!   We had seen some wildlife, gone swimming, eaten a great lunch and enjoyed some whitewater rapids.  I got to hang out with a great family and enjoy a wonderful day off from the busy life of the Los Rios office.  (I love my job, but who wouldn't want to switch it up for an outing like this?!?)  When we finally got to the bus everyone looked happy and were ready to head back to the boatyard.  Had to get one more family shot before we headed out and said goodbye for the evening.  
A great time was had by all, we look forward to rafting with the Burchett family again next year!!
Thanks for rafting with us!

Los Rios Office Girl Adventures!!!

June 15, 2015 10:44 am

So the other day the office girls of Los Rios River Runners all went for a river trip. We talked our Boss, Cisco, into giving us a girl bonding day on the river and letting the river guides run the office. As girls often do, it took us until the day before to decide where we wanted to go. You see, the office girls not only answer phones, take the reservations, and do the scheduling, we also study the water levels and see what the trends are and how we think the water for the next few days is going to look without actually knowing how it is going to look. So we waited until we saw what the water was doing the day before and then we decided on the Taos Box.
That morning we all showed up to go boating, though some of us helped get the office started while some of us helped pack the trip. We loaded the bus and off we went.

Kyle, from Raft Photos, met us at the put-in and took all the beach group pictures and then it was time to load into our boats.

So, since we are the office staff, we got to pick our guide and we picked John Harvey, one of our Senior Guides with over 20 years of experience on the Rio Grande. Kyle ran to the John Dunn Bridge and grabbed some photos of us as we went by.

We couldn't figure out what our river guide was doing in this next photo- maybe abandoning ship?- but he was just standing up to tap the bottom of the bridge with his paddle.

And the river adventure began! The Taos Box is a 16 mile stretch of river that ranges from mellow water to class 4, edge-of-your-seat whitewater. The morning is the slightly more mellow section of the river, and by that I mean class 3, followed by a brief pause for our standard Los Rios deli buffet lunch (I made a delicious sandwich with avo, tomato, onion, lettuce, peppers, pickles, turkey, and cheese). We started the afternoon off with Dead Car Rapid, a class 4, and then they just kept coming. Powerline was next, a class 4 with an 11' drop. As we came around the corner, the 2 office managers (we are in the back near John) took a big deep breath and looked at each other... but we got this. After Powerline came the Rock Graden, an intense section of class 3 and 4 whitewater. Then we were getting to the end, as we were running through Screaming right, another class 4 rapid. As we came in, we caught a rock on the front right of our boat, starting a cascade effect where the right side started to go under water. Marilee, the front right paddler in our boat, couldn't get the footing to stay in, so she went for a swim. The rest of the right side stayed in due to everyone grabbing each other to make sure that no one else swam. Another boat pulled Marilee in and we were all back together a few minutes. And then we were off again. The last rapid is Sunset rapid, where we meet our photographer from Southern Exposure again (raftphotos.com). This rapid signals the end of our amazing day of office girl bonding and adventure.

We hit the take-out and unload from our boat. What a great day! On the bus ride home, a few of us fall asleep and some of us are chatting in the back. We get to the boatyard and the girls divide, some of us come into the office and pick up the pieces of a busy day for the boys, some of us help unload the trip. Once 6 o'clock hits, we all sit down, enjoy a cocktail, and talk about our day. Just wait until next time, the office girls are going to go boating again!

A day on the Middle Box

June 07, 2015 10:33 am

On a beautiful Tuesday in June, June the 2nd to be exact, we did a wonderful trip with 2 wonderful people, the story of their adventure begins with a phone call. 

Dan and Ellen (Ellen is above enjoying the river) called us after they had rented mules with Dirk from Red River Stables.  They were headed down to the Middle Box section of the river on the Cebolla Mesa Trail and they had an extra mule and were wondering if we wanted to tag along and do the shuttle.  Of course we agreed and we sent some of our rookie and second year guides along who had not seen this section of the river before.  A wonderful day was had by all! 

The Middle Box is a Wilderness Section of the Rio Grande river in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.  From a commercial standpoint only 2 companies can launch in that section of the river on a daily basis, which means that you will not see another soul on that section of the river except for the other people in your own group.  This trip is perfect for lower water when the Taos Box is no longer running, it does start with a short hike no matter which of the three trails you take and then a beautiful day floating and paddling on the river. 

As Dan said in an e-mail to us it was exciting to be packed into the river by mules and the river was incredibley beautiful!! The rapids were fun and there were several; nothing to overwhelming but entertaining.  The guides that we floated with were excellent and very capable.  A big thanks to Che, Anna, Marilee, Colonel Travis and Evan!! We look forward to boating with Los Rios again! Thanks for a memorable day, Dan and Ellen!  
Our guides had a great day on the Middle Box Adventure!!! 

The Ultimate Man-Shower

June 02, 2015 11:25 am

We have had a busy few months here at Los Rios River Runners, Memorial Day weekend has come and gone already and now it is June.  Where is the summer going?!? We know that we have been gone from the blog for about a year and we are sorry about that, but we are back now and hoping to keep up.
Anyways, we did 4 overnight trips over Memorial Day weekend and all of them were amazing!! One of the groups wanted to share their overnight journey with you and sent us the article below.  If you have questions please feel free to ask us.

Thanks and Enjoy!!
Los Rios

The Ultimate Man-Shower: 3 Day Overnight Rio Grande Rafting Trip

Children are a blessing in so many ways. While I could bore you to death with all of those ways, I’m going to spare you most of them and focus on one of greatest yet little known blessings children provide, particularly for men: The Man-Shower. Now of course, us guys are all too familiar with the typical baby shower where we sit around and feign enthusiasm as our wives open up gift wrapped packages of diapers and Bumbo chairs, but let’s be honest, no card carrying man is ever all that excited about the baby shower.

The Man-Shower is the balancing of those scales, where we call upon our closest male brothers-in-arms and gather to celebrate the welcoming of new life on the planet by being one with nature, beating our chests and sharing a libation or two.

So in February of this year, when I came to find out that 3 of my closest friends along with myself were all incredibly fortunate to be expecting babies within the year, my first thought was “How Awesome!!” My second thought was “MAN SHOWER!!!!!” And not just any man shower would do here, but something that was worthy of such a monumental time in our lives. So after some back and forth and reading lots of reviews for various outdoor trips and excursions that our wives would actually let us go on, we settled on the 3 Day Rio Grande Overnight River Rafting Trip with Los Rios River Runners because of the great reviews they have on TripAdvisor and close proximity to me and 10 really good friends (we are all from Austin, Dallas, Houston and Las Cruces, NM).


As our trip got closer, no one in our group of 11 really had any idea what to expect of this trip so really everyone just went off the pre-trip packing list as to what to pack. That and we agreed to bring a little bit of alcohol (ok, ‘little bit’ is a relative term). About a week from our trip date, which was scheduled Memorial Day Weekend, Jo from Los Rios called us to inquire about basic details like how many tents we needed, how much beer we were bringing and she helped us coordinate other minute details of our trip like how many guys would be in each tent, etc.. Anticipation was running high for “The 11” as we began to refer to ourselves on multiple group text messaging threads.

Day 1

We essentially had two groups of guys coming on the trip; 6 (including myself) driving up from Austin, TX  in a rented 15 passenger van and then the remaining 5 who flew/drove to Albuquerque and then made the 2.5 hour trek to Taos together. Being that our Austin group drove through the night,  we arrived at Los Rios a little tired and slightly sleep deprived. However, as soon as hopped out of the van and saw all our rafting equipment and the preparations being made for our trip, a collective shot of adrenaline started to energize us all. As we tried on our wetsuits, we all started to look at each other with that ‘THIS is really happening!’ face.

We loaded up our gear into the wet packs they provided, our beer into their massive coolers and hopped into their van, driven by Scotty, to get to our point of entry for the start of the trip. After about an hour or so we arrive at a campground near the Rio Grande called Little Arsenic campgrounds. From there we hike about 30 minutes or so down to a little picnic area where we meet our guides, Oz, Baryza, and Bradley, three men we would get to know much better in the next three days. This was also the first time we were all introduced to the concept of having our meals prepared for us on the trip. Now, I knew the trip included all our food but we were all a little surprised to arrive at the bottom of the hike and have our whole spread laid out when we arrived. I guess it’s because there’s something both surprising and awesome about being in the middle of nowhere, seemingly far from civilization yet having the luxury/comfort of someone preparing a meal for you. Lunch included some appetizers of chips and hummus and fresh fruit along with a whole spread to make deli quality sandwiches along with some soft drinks, gatorade and cookies. It was a much needed meal prior to getting on the river.

With our bellies full, we got our safety instructions from Oz, who took about 15 minutes or so to instruct us on the danger of the rapids, the basic instructions we would receive from our guides as well as the protocol to follow should one of us fall in the water. We then broke our group of 11 into 3 boat crews of 4, 4 and lastly the 3 biggest guys (which I fell into). We threw on our helmets, PFDs (personal flotation devices), and aqua socks (which they provide) and were on our way. Baryza (pronounced BAR-zah) quickly gave us some commands we would need to become very familiar with: Forward Paddle, Back Paddle, Spin Right, Spin Left, Hold On, and Highside.

As you might imagine with 11 dudes, some of whom have known each other 20+ years, we are pretty damn competitive so it comes as no surprise it took about 5 minutes for us all to begin to try and outperform each other down the river. That however took a backseat to the immense beauty of the river and all of the nature and ambiance surrounding it. Couple that with the clear blue skies and 65 degree weather and things were getting started quite nicely.

The first major rapid (Class 3+) was a fairly technical (technical meaning requiring a number of maneuvers) section Baryza called La Junta. Our boat was ‘the sweeper’ of the group meaning that we always went last. Confident as can be, we started to go down La Junta. Despite having received instructions from the guides on how to follow commands it was eye opening to actually get those in the line of fire, so to speak. The sense of urgency and tone in Baryza’s (and in all the guide’s) voice was something I was not prepared for. Wouldn’t you know it, our boat had a guy fall out of the boat on that very first rapid, about 20 minutes into our trip. It was a little bit scary but overall it never felt like our guides didn’t have it under control. Baryza blew his whistle, the two other guides ahead of us quickly parked their boats and got on land to seemingly get a better vantage point of our the guy who fell off our boat. We got to him, pulled him in and gave him a good ribbing.

After La Junta, there were a few other rapids but none as challenging as La Junta. Between rapids, there’s quite a bit of chill time, where you don’t paddle. You just sit there and take in nature and enjoy the sights and sounds. Baryza knew a ton about seemingly every aspect of the river, the trees surrounding it, the flowers growing in it’s banks and the wildlife inhabiting the cliffs. We saw a beaver swimming around, some big horn sheep, quite a few squirrels and some petroglyphs on rocks. We stopped at a bridge about mid afternoon where we met up with a man we all called ‘Captain Ron’ who loaded up a huge oar boat with all the supplies that we had packed into the wet bags. Captain Ron was impressive as we saw him navigate all the rapids we did, only with all of our luggage, food and sleeping equipment in tow. As we continued on, the cold water began to compound with a lack of sun and as we entered the area of the river where the cliffs were high, and we were all pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully, we stopped for a few minutes at some hot springs and took a quick dip to warm up before restarting our trip down the river.

Finally, after a long day of being on the river we reached our first night’s campground, a small strip (about 200 yards) of riverfront terrain just within eyesight of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

There was this huge feeling of accomplishment we all had getting out of our boats, and looking at our home for the night. It was an almost euphoric emotion pulling into our camp that night that I’ll never forget. We were high fiving and fist bumping just out of the pure glee of getting down the river and camping in such a remote yet gorgeous spot. We quickly pulled our luggage out of the wet bags, set up our tents and sleeping bags, and changed into our dry clothes. As Oz, Baryza and Captain Ron began preparing our meals, we sat around in folding chairs and cracked open some much needed beer. Oz and Baryza both made it really clear that this first night was one where wanted to take it easy because of the degree of difficulty of Day 2’s rapids which included multiple class 4’s. Dinner on night 1 consisted of an appetizer of chips and salsa and freshly made guacamole and the main course was beef and fish tacos, rice and beans and some fresh grilled squash, mushrooms and peppers that were just out of this world.

For dessert, they made some pound cake with fresh blackberries on it which was really good as well. Again, I can’t stress enough how strangely awesome it was to be seemingly so far from civilization yet have such an incredible meal being cooked for you. Like most people, we all were so used to camping and making our own food when doing so, we almost felt bad having other people cook for us while we kicked our feet up, but the Los Rios guys were as hospitable and gracious as can be and never made us feel resented or burdensome. I really can’t say enough about how comfortable they made all of us feel.
After dinner and a couple of hours of storytelling/laughing/drinking around the campfire, we called it a night and went to bed. It was such a cool feeling to lay down in my tent and just let the sounds of the Rio Grande, which was literally 20 feet away, put me to sleep.

Day 2

Though some of our guys got up earlier, I woke about around 8am the next morning and was happy to find a fresh pot of hot coffee waiting for me. The night was cold as I had anticipated, but I was still cold when I woke up. For whatever reason it took me 2 cups of of coffee to get my core temperature warm. About 30 minutes later the guys served breakfast which was french toast, hashbrown, and sausage. French toast, seriously? Now it felt like our guides were just showing off. I don’t even get french toast at home. Everything was delish as usual and we took our time eating and just hanging out around the camp. We packed all of our gear and tents up and by 11 am we were back on the water. We had to wait a few minutes for another group of Los Rios’s to catch up with us. It wasn’t too bad waiting though as Baryza had us practice traveling up stream by paddling from eddy to eddy (an eddy, I learned from Baryza, was essentially this little pocket of swirling or reverse current water in the river that the main current created when it flows past).

After we were joined by 8 other rafts filled with other Los Rios patrons, we began to make our way down river once again. I quickly realized that Day 2, which enters the Taos Box, was noticeably more difficult than Day 1. The aggression of the rapids, the amount of maneuvering and the sense of urgency and seriousness of our guides was all increased by about 30% from Day 1 to Day 2. Having played team sports my whole life, I loved the intensity of it all. It really felt like you had to work in unison with your team to get through each and every rapid. After a few exciting rapids we broke for lunch along with the other 9 boats. This lunch was similar to the previous day with a nice selection of lunch meats and sandwich toppings along with chips and salsa. We did however get one little welcome addition to the lunch menu on Day 2 that was sadly absent on Day 1: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. A personal weakness of mine.

After a quick lunch, we were back on the river, taking on rapid after rapid. It was more entertaining doing the rapids with 9 other boats because there was always someone in front and in back of you that you could watch and they would watch you as well. It made for good theater. There were so many rapids in The Box, that they quite frankly began to blend together. The one that stood out the most without question though was Rock Garden. Baryza had been hyping us up all day about Rock Garden and the maneuvering that was necessary to stay out of any hairy situations so my adrenaline was amped up for it. I think our whole boat was. Rock Garden is unique in that you have to paddle really fast into it to hit your ‘line’ (your line being the the path you would like to follow to get through the rapid) but then once you hit your line, you have to essentially slam the brakes to avoid flipping your boat on a rock. Think of it like Frogger, where you have to hurry your frog on to a log that’s moving laterally while you wait for the opportune time to once again launch forward. The braking is done by a very aggressive backpedal that, at least when we executed it, accompanied by Baryza’s primal scream to “BACKPEDAL!!!” felt very dramatic, like we were Kevin Bacon and John C. Reily and Baryza was Meryl Streep, except unlike in “The River Wild”, our Meryl Streep wasn’t trying to kill us.

But I digress. Rock Garden was a blast, I don’t have any other rafting experience to use as a point of reference but it felt like we executed our various maneuvers with precision and skill - or at least Baryza was nice enough to let us think so.

We winded down our Day 2 with a variety of runs and then pulled into our camping area for our second night. This time our campground was more typical of the state parks I’ve camped at in years past with enclosed toilets and designated camping areas with fire pits. It was beautiful and nice, but just seeing that we had some neighbors about 100 yards from us made me really appreciate how special the primitive campsite from the night before was.

With our most difficult day of rafting behind us, all of us guys were in the mood to celebrate and celebrate we did. We cracked open some beer, played some jams on our bluetooth speakers and made a campfire. Around 7ish Baryza came by with some appetizers; hummus and a veggie plate with ranch. About 45 minutes later dinner was served: Steak, mashed potatoes and corn followed by peach cobbler. It was exquisite. Also, by now if you haven’t noticed, I’m done feeling guilty about eating so well when I’m camping. It is THE way to camp. We get to mingle a bit with some of the other overnight groups before making our way back to our camp and putting a significant dent in our large ice chest. We hit the hay after a fantastic night of eating, drinking and laughing around our campfire, this night a little bit later than the previous.

Day 3

We were a little bit slower getting up on Day 3 as you might imagine, mostly from having exerted ourselves on the river the day before, but partially from celebrating more intensely. As it were, breakfast was highly anticipated and rightfully so. The breakfast menu this am included eggs, sausage, pancakes (with real maple syrup) and of course coffee. Lots of coffee.

As we packed up camp before our final day on the river, there was a little bit of sadness among the group as we all sensed the trip coming to an end but physically speaking, there was some relief because the amount of exertion required on Day 2 had a few of us really sore and tired. That’s why there were no complaints when our guides told us that helmets and wetsuits were optional the third day since the runs were pretty chill. Since I was really cold on Days 1 & 2, I opted to keep my dry gear on to avoid being miserable on what was looking to be an overcast day.

Day 3 was mostly chill with very little rowing until the very end where, wanting one last rush of adrenaline, our crew asked Baryza to maneuver Souse Hole as aggressive as possible. For lunch we stopped and had some really tasty chicken caesar wraps with pringles and soft drinks. Day 3 was just enough to fill our appetites for adventure but also relaxed and chill enough for us to all wind down after 2 days of heavy rowing and pulse pounding rapids. As we wrapped up the trip, some of the other rafters in other groups began to jump in the cold water as a celebration of sorts but no one in our group … we were the only group in the bunch that had just completed the 3 Day trip and our celebration was complete. Oz and Bradley’s teams did however decide to have a little race for 2nd place:

Some Tips

So we scoured all the information that Los Rios provided both on their web site as well as via email but I thought I would share some tips that I would consider when I do this trip next time:

  1. Wear sunblock - I am not prone to sunburn but I got burnt pretty bad despite there being a good amount of shade.
  2. Pics are hard to come by - the website said that they didn’t’ recommend taking cameras on the boat but I’m the kind of person who reads that and see it more as a disclaimer rather than a rule. The reality is, you can take whatever you want on the boat, but when you’re going through anything that would be exciting enough to video, it’s near impossible to take a picture and perform your rowing duties. My recommendation would be to bring a GoPro or some sort of mountable camera that can be easily operated with a remote.
  3. If the water’s cold, wear the gear they provide - being a large group of guys, of course we thought it would be overfill to wear a wet suit, rain gear and the aqua socks they provide but sure enough, every day they were very much needed, particularly when the sun wasn’t shining down into the canyon. It was late May when we went with temperature highs in the low 70’s if that gives you any idea as to what to expect.
  4. Trust you guide - The guides they gave us; Oz, Baryza and Bradley all were very knowledgeable and competent. Oz’s group would not stop talking about how great of a guide he was to the point where it became a little bit of a competition on who’s guide was better between Oz and Baryza (my vote: No disrespect to Oz, I’ll take Baryza but of course I am partial).
  5. Forget any cell phone service - I own a legal marketing company and lawyer directory in Austin and as you can imagine, I am GLUED to my iPhone 95% of the day. I secretly brought my phone, hoping I might get a bar or two from AT&T somewhere along the trip but nope. My phone was reduced to a camera from the day we left Los Rios, to the day we arrived. But you know what, once I came to grips with that, there was a sense of relief from being disconnected for a business day.


To a man, every single guy who went on this trip said the same thing; it was one of the best trips they had ever been on. And this was no easy to please group of guys, among them we had multiple guys have traveled the world from Safari’s in Africa to having lived for years in Spain, Paris and Mexico. It’s no overstatement to say that this trip was an experience like no other and that every single one of ‘The 11’s’ expectations were exceeded by the natural beauty, service, adventure, food and exhilarating fun of the 3 day Rio Grande trip by Los Rios River Runners. If you’re looking for the ultimate trip with some old high school or college buddies, a man shower or any sort of male bonding trip, stop researching and looking for cheap flights to Vegas and book this trip with Los Rios. You’ll be thrilled that you did.

Fall Rafting

September 13, 2013 09:33 am

The air starting to cool down, but we're still run'n hot! The benefits of fall rafting: private experiences on the Rio Grande! With the season coming to a close, Los Rios is often the only rafts on the river! Instead of hundreds of boats working their way down the rapids, it is often just your trip out on a scenic adventure! Come down for full day and half day experiences! With booties and wet suits available rafting on the Rio Grande can be a great way to spend a day! Want to avoid getting very wet? Try our calm Orilla Verde section floats or our lovely sunset dinner floats! Have a float down the river then a delicious meal! Let us continue to love our river!
For more information on our adventures:

Los Rios Guests Save A Cow!

August 04, 2013 01:44 pm

A few weeks ago a family was taking an overnight trip down the beautiful Rio Chama. This wilderness area is host to lots of wildlife, and is range land for many local rancher's cattle.
As our guides Jeff and Bradley were rowing by a cow was seen trapped in the mud on the banks of the river. Being monsoon season it can be very muddy on the shore and this poor cow had wondered out too far near the water and became entrenched in the muck.
Our guide Jeff happened to have had guests from an Oklahoma cattle ranch* in his boat and they decided to assist the unlucky bovine. Pulling the boat over nearby, the family hoped out, coaxing the cow until she broke free of the mud and made it back to the grassy safety of the bank!
Thanks to our guests and guides for this heroic rescue!

*The family could not be reached for comment! If they r
ead this and would like to please email us via our contact link on the website!

A Family Adventure on the Rio Grande Racecourse!

July 11, 2013 02:10 pm

The Bertain Rafting Team Gearing up for their run!

The racecourse section of the Rio Grande... A treasure of class 3 rapids. Aptly named for the annual Mother's Day race, this section is fun, exciting, and very challenging. The perfect way for a family to spend half a day, an a great taste of whitewater on the Rio Grande. 
This June the Bertain family decided to take a cross country road trip, and the girls of the family were on the hunt for adventure! Clad in PFDs they set off one morning for the Rio Grande Racecourse!

Picked up at the Rio Grande Gorge visitor center they were whisked off to our put-in , known as Quartzite for the pinkish metamorphic rock decorating river left. The Pilar cliffs contain Precambrian rocks, and the pink coloration of the quartzite is from the manganese-rich epidote mineral. Much of the Racecourse follows the famous Embudo Fault line, a very active geologic feature, creating a fascinating geology along the river.
Safety speeches given, hand signals taught, into the raft they go to brave the beauty of the Rio Grande Racecourse.
River Guides always point Positive!

First: a paddle lesson. In good hands with senior guide Suzie Benton, they learn paddle commands, proper paddle position, forward and back, as a team we'll get this boat through!
Senior Guide Suzie Benton, Box Guide and Bird Expert!

Bump off a rock, learn how it feels, most important rule of boating: Stay in the boat! 
First big section of rapids: The Maze. Technical class 2 and 3 rapids, it's the perfect training ground for our new boatmen! While we float down, check out the red willows along the shore, the pueblo people are known as the red willow people, using these plants for making baskets and other crafts.
Next up on the rapids list, the Narrows, a fun set of 3+ rapids, our heros practice thier new paddle commands and work as a team to brave the wave trains! At the end of the Narrows is Eye of the Needle and a very quick left-right turn is made to thread the infamous needle!
Entering Herringbone Rapid!
Now on to Herringbone, stay river left so the boat can make it through this tricky channel! After making it down comes Albert Falls, aptly named for the famous scientist Albert Einstein of whom would visit this section to fly fish with the scientists of Los Alamos. The fractured and faulted quartzite on this section indicates the continuation of the Embudo Fault.
Los Rios is ready to ride the Rio Grande!
Our family-team couldn't believe the excitement was only half over when they floated under the Glenwoody Bridge, installed in 1902 it is one of the oldest bridges in Northern New Mexico. In the early 1900s it was used to connect the road to a failed gold mining camp on river right.
So many moves to make! Good thing Suzie knows this river!

Taking a break under the bridge, Suzie explains the dynamics of a proper high-side technique in preparation for the wild rapid known as Big Rock. Going down an S-shaped wave train the raft must avoid slamming into the boat-flipper rock Co-Pilot, slide through without getting caught on the sneaky stone aptly named Velcro without getting stuck and finally slip through the slot right of Big Rock while performing a well timed high-side.
Co-Pilot from above!

 Paddling in our group is on the top of our game, navigating safely around co-pilot with a well placed back-paddle, then gliding effortlessly through the slot at Big Rock! This group was born to be river runners!
Resting at the bottom of Big Rock next to Baby Huey

After the harrowing escapade that is Big Rock, a moment to catch their breath is taken at the base of the huge boulder Baby Huey. Huey is a 360-ton staurolite-garnit schist that fell from the Pilar Cliffs above in 1991. This behemoth crashed down the slope, crushed the road (river guides jokingly say it was the only pot-hole New Mexico has ever fixed) and slid into the river to rest on the right-hand shore.
Once the moment of rejuvenation has passed it's on to Sleeping Beauty, a lovely class 3 rapid boats can traverse side ways, backwards, or even spinning over. At the bottom we take the opportunity to surf the rapid, catching the revolving water and splashing our crew with the river!
Setting up to Surf...

Caught the perfect surf! What a smile!

Catching sight of some petriglyph images of a lizard and shield symbols, our group gallivants off to Souse Hole. A great class 3 rapid that can be come a class 5 at higher water~ Created by the cienega wetland constricting the water channel, our team puckers up for their picture taken by the photographers of Southern Exposure which hang out to catch the action at Souse Hole.
When the photo-shoot finishes, its down the curve to Last Chance, the final rapid of the Racecourse. This is your final opportunity to fly out of the boat on a rapid! Our girls make it and it's the gentle last mile of the racecourse, filled with birds, scenery, and a little swimming.
Cooling off in the river!
Spotting some international wildlife!

When they finally make it to the take out County Line our team is exhilarated, exhausted and ready for that delicious snack of cookies, fruit, and chips and salsa waiting on shore! They made it! What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon!
A happy (and a little soaked) family!

Thanks to the Bertain family for letting this Los Rios blogger photograph them, it was great to get to experience the river with your family! Hope to see ya'll again on the river!!!

For more information on our Half-Day Racecourse Adventure visit:

For more information on the Southern Exposure Photography Team:

Roadtrip Nation Comes to Los Rios!

July 05, 2013 05:50 pm

Roadtrip Nation visits the Los Rios Boathouse in their custom RV!

Los Rios River Runners was pleased to take part in the Roadtrip Nation movement, a television series on the Freedom of the Road.  Roadtrip Nation empowers you to define your own road in life instead of traveling down someone else's. We encourage you to engage in self-construction, rather than mass production. We encourage you to be proactive and actively participate in defining your future by hitting the road and learning from Leaders who have resisted The Noise of conformity and stayed true to themselves.  
Roadtrip Nation contacted Los Rios, searching for a female raft guide to interview about guiding, rafting, and the lifestyle of a river runner. Our own Sherry Grathler stepped up to the plate, expounding the ins and outs of Raft Guide life, subculture, and the freedom inherit in career seasonal guiding.
You have full freedom, you aren't a prisoner of your life, states Sherry. Speaking positively on river guiding, both in New Mexico and around the world. Sherry started her professional life as a social worker. Though she believed in helping people,  the reality of people's lives began to drag her down. Sherry moved to river guiding 6 years ago, starting in Washington state on big water, and was changed forever.
Sherry's Interview

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Raft guides go to work every day doing what they love. Their lives surround the river, and sharing that love  with the public. Sure there are challenges, hard days and upstream winds,but at the end of the day your out doing what you love! Sherry spoke to Roadtrip Nation about the challenges of being a woman guide, having to work harder with some groups to prove your worth, a challenge she gladly manages. People question guides about the career choice, asking when are you going to get a real job? Sherry's response, as with many guides' response is that this is my real job. You don't have to have a dead end job that you hate, you can live the life you want to live, the only thing stopping you are your own choices and priorities!
After the heart to heart the Roadtrip Nation representatives headed out on the river, clad with go-pros to see Sherry's beloved river first hand. Funyaking down the Rio Grande Racecourse, the Roadtrip Nation crew seemed to have had a great time on the river, experiencing our lovely Rio Grande!
Los Rios River Runners would like to thank Roadtrip Nation for the awesome opportunity to be part of their movement, and hope to see them again on the river!
Check out thier awesome show at:

Cholla's are Blooming

June 28, 2013 06:08 pm

A blooming Cholla along the Rio Chama near Big Eddy
It's late June, and the Cholla are blooming. A beautiful cactus bloom, native to New Mexico, also known as the Walking Stick Cholla or Chainlink Cactus have lovely reddish pink blooms and can be spotted along the shores of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama.
The Cholla is found in the Southwestern United States and Northern New Mexico, often growing in cooler climates compared to other cactus species.
Cholla's are a hardy species, and can grow tall, up to 15ft tall with a trunk of 10 inches in Diameter. The bloom typically in late spring or early summer with 2 inch wide blooms and bear yellowish cone-shaped fruits that are easily mistaken for blooms. The fruit are eaten by animals such as deer and sheep, and birds, though uneaten fruit will be retained by the plant all winter. Stems can fall from a plant and can grow a new cholla.
This is just another gorgeous feature of the flora and fauna of our Wild and Scenic Rivers of Northern New Mexico!

Volunteer River Trash Pick Up!

June 19, 2013 04:51 pm

A few weeks ago a family booked Los Rios River Runners for a reunion of 50 people to take place on the Rio Grande. A fun way to spend time with the family to begin with, their idea of a reunion got even better!
Every year they get together and spend their reunion making the world a better place. Spending the first half of the day on the Orilla Verde picking up trash, and then finishing the day with an exciting funyak ride down the Rio Grande Racecourse! What an amazing family!
Here at Los Rios, we greatly support the environment and the protection of our beloved National Monument! We loved the opportunity to assist with this phenomenal work, and would jump at the oppurtunity to assist with more volunteer clean ups of our favorite river! Together we can make the world a better place for our communities, nature, and the next generation.
Entering the Narrows on the Rio Grande Race Course

Thanks to river clean ups like these, water fowl and other animals can safely raise their young!

*Family could not be reached for comment

Baaaaa Ram Ewe: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

June 10, 2013 11:37 am

Your riding in a funyak down the Middle Box section of the Rio Grande near Taos until suddenly: CLATTER CLATTER SMASH! Rocks are tumbling down to the rivers edge! You look up and there he is, a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram, a chest of solid muscle, huge intimidating double curled horns, and a cute white fluffy rear.
Two centuries ago the bighorns roamed the free ranges of the West, favoring steep terrain and rugged mountainous landscapes, they numbered in the millions. By 1900 due to over-hunting and disease they had declined to numbers in the thousands, by 1906 no herds existed in New Mexico. In an effort to restore the balance to the nature of the West the Game and Fish department stepped in to restore this iconic mountain animal. In 1932 they started releasing herds of bighorns, and now around 900 sheep call New Mexico home. In Taos Bighorns can be found both high above the timberline in the ski valley and Wheeler peak area, as well as the cliffs hugging the Rio Grande Gorge.
Bighorn sheep are easily distinguishable from domestic sheep breeds; they are not covered with wool but instead with a thick brown coat and a white fluffy rear. They are larger than domestic sheep with males (called rams) weighing in around 200 to 300lbs and the females, called ewes weighing around 130 to 200lbs. The most stunning feature they sport of course would be their horns, the males can have huge curling horns measured around 35 to 40 inches in length that can weigh up to 30lbs! The ewes also have horns, though short and small and only slightly curled. Unlike deer or elk their horns do not shed every season, instead they just continue to grow throughout their lifetime. These impressive apparatuses are used mostly by the rams during mating season to fight one another for females, luckily they have very thick reinforced skulls that leave them battle-ready for charging each other at speeds up to 30mph! These animals also have excellent eyesight, used for judging distances to jump from boulder to rock on steep terrain, and to keep an eye out for predators. The elastic pads on their feet act as shock absorbers while their hooves have cups in the middle to help them grip the rock as they athletically jump up to 20 feet!
The Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep is a grazing herbivore, browsing grass, willows and shrubs. Like cows they regurgitate their food and chew it again before digestion. A bit like a camel they can live on very little water, gathering H2O from snow and vegetation. The sheep are most active during the day day and live in herds: females, lambs, and adolescent rams will travel together foraging for food, while young rams can often be seen in bachelor groups or as solitary travelers. During the mating season, around October to December,  the mature rams will join the females. Rams will breed several ewes, though ewes will generally not submit to breeding until they are about 2 years old. Lambs are born 6 months later in June to July and they can traverse the rocky cliffs with their mothers in just a few days after birth!
Due to habitat infringement and mountain lion predation the herds of Northern New Mexico especially the low altitude populations congregating around the Rio Grande Gorge have been threatened, and the state is still working hard on their transplant programs.
Riding down the river is an excellent opportunity to see these magnificent animals, these symbols of the West. They are habituated to seeing boats and are less likely to flee from a raft then from humans on foot or in a car. Hunting of the Bighorn sheep is closely managed, and anti-poaching laws are strictly enforced.
One must always be on the look out for sheep in the woods and on the river! Though the rams inspiring, and the lambs painfully cute, these are not domesticated animals and should be treated as such. Never attempt to get too close or to touch a Bighorn sheep, they are wild animals and will defend themselves. Thanks to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for their efforts in bringing this important animal back to our lovely river!
More information on Bighorn Sheep can be found at:

A young Bighorn Lamb

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ewe

Bighorn Rams in all their glory!

More information on the afore mentioned Middle Box Funyak Adventure can be found at:

Photos from http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/conservation/bighorn/
Together, we can make reintroduction possible!

The Orilla Verde

June 03, 2013 10:13 am

A slight chill still clings to the morning air as the lone boatman sets out. White van, fading out of sight as the oars brush the water. A soft downstream breeze caresses the boat as it navigates stealthily through the shallow water, watchful of the rocks peaking the surface. Birds chitter anxiously while a red-tailed hawk preens on it's piñon perch, and the new day's sun peeks it's sleepy head through the clouds.

This meditative scene depicts the Orilla Verde, a gentle stretch of the Rio Grande ideal for those seeking peace and calm, perfect for the elderly and small children, the Orilla Verde is one of the many faces of the mighty river. It is hard to imagine that North of the Orilla Verde lies the Taos Box with it's class 5 and 6 white knuckle rapids, for here the spirit of the river sings softly.

This beautiful section of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument rides through fertile banks and the small town of Pilar. The river runs through dramatic cliffs rising 800 feet above, mingling with the clouds. It is the home to several kinds of eagles and hawks, songbirds, waterfowl, mule deer, beaver, and occasionally river otter. This sacred spot was also once a place for ancient tribes, and petroglyphs can be found along it's shores.

Like a mantra, this area can heal a troubled mind. Let the placid waters wash away your troubles and soothe the chaos of day to day life. Seek the Orilla Verde as restoration for the soul.

The quiet banks of the Orilla Verde

Floating through the scenery

A precocious Rio Grande river otter


Rock Climbing River Runners

May 27, 2013 09:23 am

This last week Mountain Skills Climbing took some of our staff out to channel their inner mountain goat on some thrilling climbs in the Taos area to promote their top-notch climbing programs. Mountain Skills Climbing offers a variety of climbing adventures for beginners to advanced climbers lead by professional, knowledgeable, and friendly guides providing vertical relief in New Mexico, Las Vegas NV, Thailand, and Mexico.
We at Los Rios River Runners are proud to work with Mountain Skills to provide one of our most popular Multi-sport trips, Rock 'n Raft, where our guests climb with breathtaking views in the morning, and ride the thrilling whitewater in the afternoon.
Our staff put down the paddles and PFDs to meet up with Mountain Skills to get a first-hand experience of a typical itinerary for rock-adventures. First a class 5.5 ascent up a gorgeous basalt cliff North of Taos. Jay, our guide from Mountain Skills was patient and informative as he explained how best to approach the climb, find safe handholds, trust the rope, and repel safely. With their excellent instruction, top of the line equipment, and enthusiastic attitude it was a fantastic way to start a day! After our first climb we headed towards the Rio Grande Gorge for our 100 foot repel! Overlooking our beloved Taos Box we lowered ourselves over the cliff edge to repel gently down, slow though we went the adrenaline was pumping! After all that adventure we were all ready to get back to our familiar Class 3 whitewater!
We'd like to thank Mountain Skills for the fantastic climbing lesson and urge everyone to give them a call!
Trusting the ropes!

Off the river, on the rock!

Made it!!!

Smiles after a successful climb!
This blogger is ready is to ascend that wall!
The Office and our Guide Jay sharing a moment before our 100 ft repel!

Mountain Skills can be found at:
Or call them at:

Start the day on the wall and then cool off on the river with one of our fantastic Rock N' Raft Trips:

See ya'll on the cliffs and on the river!

Rafting makes for a unique party!

May 25, 2013 09:57 am

Planning a bachelor or bachelorette party? Why go to Vegas, everyone goes to Vegas, and besides no one wants pull a Brides Maids! Come up to Northern New Mexico for a wild time! Rafting makes for a unique and special party that everybody will remember for a lifetime. Find your party thrills in the white water of the Rio Chama or the Race Course, fly down the river as a group in a raft, or try your luck solo in an inflatable kayak, whatever the itinerary riding the river makes for a rock'n party! After your wild ride: soak away your wedding worries in Ojo Caliente, then dance the night away at Taos Mesa Brewery! Make it a full day with multi-sport trips, rock-climb than raft, horseback ride then raft, or mountain bike and raft. There is an adventure for any group, even 1, 2, and 3 day trips!
Not just wedding parties, the river is a great place for family reunions, birthdays, company retreats, and anniversaries! What better way to show your loved ones how to party then escaping into the wilds of the river!

Despite Low Water the River Remains AMAZING!

May 17, 2013 12:45 pm

As river enthusiasts we can't help but be affected by the water levels of our beloved Rio Grande. Between droughts and Colorado's irrigation taking over 90% of water flow from the Nation's newest National Monument, it can be hard for some to see only the negatives affecting the water.
But the Mighty Rio Grande remains AMAZING! Every day we still run fantastic and fun trips down the river, proudly showing off our home to visitors from around the world! These waters provide both our livelihood and recreation and we at Los Rios River Runners cannot help but remain in love with our river!
The low water gets a bad reputation but it has it's good points too: lower water is cleaner, slower, warmer, more appropriate for swimming, and better for kids and families!
Ready for a great day on the Race Course!

Ross is ready for the River!

Riding Rio Grande Rapids!
Our rookies strive to learn the finer points of boating, and the low water is a unique opportunity to intimately understand the river bed and it's construction!
So chin up gang! Our river is still the center of our lives! Lets show it a little appreciation and love by continuing to travel and adore it's waters!

*Photographs courtesy of Donia Stoenner

Mother's Day Rio Grande Whitewater Festival

May 14, 2013 10:43 am

What an amazing weekend! Between exciting races and informative talks there was much to see and do at this years' festival! So many great people turned out to learn and celebrate our lovely stretch of river!
The weekend kicked off with some great speakers, Paul Bauer gave an excellent presentation on the geology and hydrology of the Rio Grande, explaining the geologic history of the 30 million year old rift that the Rio Grande runs through.
The wonderful volunteers from the Espanola  Wildlife center brought live Raptors native to New Mexico, giving the audience a rare chance to see these lovely birds up close! The peregrine falcon was a star of the show, the fastest animal on Earth this little bird hunts at speeds up to 240 mph!
But what would the festival be without the spirit of competition?! Day one featured the annual throw-bag competition with boaters showcasing their safety rope skills! After the dust cleared four finalists were left standing. 1st place going to Joe Cameron, winning a dinner for two at the Taos Inn, in 2nd was Garret Schooley, 3rd was Los Rios' own Josh Chaumont, and in 4th was speaker Paul Bauer!
Los Rio's senior guide Sherry testing her throw bag skills in the Prelims!

Class is in with Geologist Paul Bauer!

The Peregrine Falcon showing off it's wingspan!
The Red Tailed hawk posing for the camera! 
Throw bag Competition Finals
3rd Place Winner: Los Rios River Runner's Guide Josh Showing off his prize!
Day 2 presented the highlight of the weekend with the Whitewater races! After some challenging SUP board races through obstacles and boat demos, the Mother's Day Race began! This competition began in the 70's and is the reason behind the name of this famous section of the Rio Grande: The Race Course! Featuring class 1, 2 and 3 rapids it's a fantastic 5 mile stretch of river! From the very beginning the Red Lady Rafting from Southern Colorado cut a clear win with a huge lead right from the get-go! Well practiced and totally synchronized they dominated the Race Course! Heather, Jen, Julie, and Hali came screeching into the finish line with an astounding time of 48:30 minutes! 2nd Place was Northern New Mexico's own Santa Fe Rafting at 49:31, and finally 3rd went to New Mexico River Adventures at 49:40.
Other race results can be found at the Mother's Day Rio Grande Whitewater Festival Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mdrgwf
SUP Race Obstacle Course
Mother's Day Whitewater Rafting Race!

Racers pounding through the dangerous slot near Big  Rock!
That tiny boat in the distance is the Red Ladies with their huge lead!

They're coming in for the win!!!

Victory Hug!!!
Saturday night the winners and spectators alike could be found at Taos Mesa Brewery for the Anthony Leon and the Chain show! Country-rock and a dance-off between whitewater competitors could be witnessed as the boaters took the floor with groove'n moves!

Post Race Jamming!

After all this Whitewater excitement we at Los Rios River Runners can hardly believe it's just the start to the season! Join us on this AWESOME river!!!

Whitewater Rafting School!

May 03, 2013 08:52 am

It’s looking to be a great season this year at Los Rios River Runners! Between already running tons of trips and our team prepping for the Mother’s Day Rio Grande Whitewater Festival, we've just had our Whitewater Rafting School! Our new group of guides are turning out to be talented and enthusiastic! They spent the previous week learning paddling, the finer points of boat control, high-siding, flip and recovery, and funyakking! After a solid week of navigating rocks, learning paddle commands, and reading the river our rookies are ready to get out there!
 Next up on the class schedule: an overnight training on the Rio Chama!
Ready to ride the rapids! School is in session!
 Check back soon for pics of the Chama trip and coverage of the exciting Rio Grande Whitewater Festival! Or, better yet join us at the festival for informative talks, prizes, and of course the famous Mother’s Day Whitewater Race! More information at:  http://raftnewmexico.org/
See you on the river!!!

Ride the Rio Grand Norte! America's newest National Monument!

April 08, 2013 02:43 pm

The Rio Grande del Norte is the America's newest and largest National Monument! President Obama officially signed the decree on March 25th 2013. Come raft through the middle of this spectacular wilderness, or explore it on horseback, mountain bikes, or on foot!  
Read about this and Los Rios River Runner's president, legendary raft guide Cisco Guevara at:

Cisco Guevara
Camping along the Chama in style!

The Epic and Beautiful Rio Grande