Los Rios River Runners holds commercial outfitter permits on the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama. We have more permits on more stretches of river than any other rafting company.
THE RIO GRANDE
The life-giving waters of the Rio Grande originate as melting snow high in the San Juan Mountains and the Sangre de Cristos, a southern spur of the Rocky Mountains. The raging spring floods year after year have carved a deep, remote and beautiful canyon across Taos Mesa, which in 1968 was designated by Congress one of the nation’s first two Wild and Scenic Rivers. Many species of wildlife live here, including elk, deer, beavers, river otters, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. The canyon walls are dotted with sage, pinon, and juniper trees hundreds of years old. The river teems with brown and rainbow trout and the natice Rio Grande cutthroat.
Most rafting on the Rio Grande takes place between Questa and Pilar. This stretch is divided into full-day sections known as the Middle Box, the Taos Box, and the Lower Gorge. The Lower Gorge is divided into two half-day sections, Orilla Verde (mellow float) and the Racecourse (fun rapids). As well as the regular Orilla Verde float trip, we also offer a sunset dinner float on this section during the summer months.
Further south, Los Rios offers overnight trips through Whiterock Canyon, between Los Alamos and Santa Fe, and our unique Native Cultures Feast & Float group trip on the Bosque section of the Rio Grande just north of Albuquerque.
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3-day Rio Grande
2-day Wild Rio Grande
2-day Whitewater Rio Grande
2-day Whiterock Canyon
2-day Middle Box Funyak
full-day Taos Box
full-day Middle Box funyak
full-day Lower Gorge
half-day Orilla Verde
Native Cultures Feast & Float
Sunset Dinner Float
The Chama is one of America's most beautiful Wild and Scenic Rivers. Its fantastic rock formations were made famous by the painter Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived nearby. A magnificent sandstone canyon with walls striped in shades of vermilion, pink, white, and yellow, towering up to 1,500 feet high, it is lush and green at river level, studded with old-growth ponderosa pines, cottonwood groves, and flower-strewn meadows. Side hikes on the Chama take you into beautiful sheltered washes with incredible views across the big canyon, and even offer fossilized dinosaur footprints!
A tributary of the Rio Grande, the Chama originates in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. The section we float begins just below El Vado dam, near the town of Tierra Amarilla, and ends below Christ in the Desert Monastery, north of the Abiquiu reservoir. The dam control regimen allows for a natural streamflow in the spring and a "release season" from mid-July to Labor Day. The dam is typically turned down to a minimum streamflow (unrunnable for rafts) from mid-June to mid-July, but every year is different. Check with us! During the release season, water is most reliable from Friday to Sunday, but the river is often floatable during the week also.
The wilderness section of the inner canyon of the Chama may be New Mexico's best-kept secret. With road access minimal to nonexistent, the only way to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery is by river. All the campsites we use are in the wilderness section. In order to protect the pristine quality of the wilderness, permits to float the river are severely limited by the Bureau of Land Management, which also limits use of campsites to one party at a time--so you can enjoy the Chama's serenity to the full.
The rapids on the Chama are rated easy Class 3, and most of them occur in the final few miles below the monastery (this is the stretch we run as a day trip). This makes the Chama a perfect river for families, funyakers, and fishermen (the state record brown trout was caught on the Chama). Most of all, it is an ideal place to escape the demands of the everyday life, recharge your batteries, and restore your spirit.