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The Rio Grande river is at the center of north-central New Mexico, as it flows south out of Colorado and into a 74-mile long 800’ deep volcanic gorge. It is also the centerpiece of the 245,000 acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
The southernmost mountain chain in the Rockies, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lie immediately to the east of the Rio Grande. The town of Taos is located at the foot of these mountains, and only a few miles distant from the Rio Grande Gorge. Hwy 64 crosses over the river on the Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge, 7 miles to the west of Taos. Taos is known for its skiing and rafting, the multi-story Taos Indian Pueblo and it’s fabulous climate. Other towns found near Taos are Questa, to the north, and Red River and Eagle Nest to the east. Both the latter also offer skiing. There is fishing in Eagle Nest Lake and the Cimarron River.
The Brazos Mountains are found to the west of the Rio Grande. Hwy. 64 passes through the village of Tres Piedras and continues over these mountains to the valley of the Rio Chama. The town of Chama serves as the southern terminus of the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge railway, which travels north into Colorado and ends at the town of Antonito, located on Hwy. 285. The Rio Chama passes through the Chama Canyon, with its wilderness rafting, then Abiquiu, once home to the artist Georgia O’Keefe, and joins the Rio Grande in Espanola.
The Rio Grande exits its gorge south of Taos, at Pilar, the site of the exciting Racecourse rapids. After passing through the Espanola Valley, the Rio Grande enters White Rock Canyon, with Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos and the Jemez Mountains just to the west. Santa Fe is located 15 miles to the east of White Rock Canyon.
Other items of interest in the northern part of the state include numerous Indian Pueblos that host ceremonial dances (and casinos), Ojo Caliente Hot Springs Resort, other ski areas, a popular zip-line at Angel Fire ski area, the small Spanish villages of Penasco, Las Trampas, Truchas and Chimayo and the well-known attractions of Santa Fe, the state capitol.