Monsoon Season Has Arrived

The monsoon season has arrived, and right on schedule. Early July is when it predictably shows up, a function of moist, heated air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, Sea of Cortez and the Pacific. When that moist air rises along the flanks of the high mountains of New Mexico and Arizona, big thunderstorms are the result. We’ve been having some doozies lately, with boulders falling onto Hwy 68. One crushed a State Trooper car. Side canyons are flooding, which discolors the Rio Grande (and ruins the fishing). But rafters needn’t worry about the lightning that accompanies these storms, as it invariably strikes the rims of the canyon that encloses the river. Here’s a photo of a normally dry side canyon known as Petaca, that is flooding into the Rio Grande in the Orilla Verde section of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, just up the road from Pilar.

Petaca Canyon, normally dry, floods into the Rio Grande

Petaca Canyon, normally dry, floods into the Rio Grande

Powerline Falls Rapid, on the Taos Box

Powerline Falls rapid, on the Taos Box stretch of the Rio Grande river, in northern New Mexico, is the most exciting rapid that is commercially run in the State of New Mexico. It is named for the rim-to-rim span of power line that is seen overhead. The rapid is formed by a collection of very large boulders that have fallen into the riverbed. The rapid tumbles steeply over and between these boulders (see photo), creating the steepest drop on this Class 4+ stretch. The Taos Box stretch is the whitewater centerpiece of the recently designated Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The river level (volume) in the video was 700-900 cfs.
New Wave Rafting Co. is your host for experiencing this exhilarating whitewater. Serving all of northern New Mexico and headquartered on the Rio Grande river between Santa Fe and Taos, we offer family-friendly trips from the mildest to the wildest, in spectacular settings. The Taos Box river trip traverses 16 miles of wilderness gorge, encountering demanding rapids guaranteed to get you wet. This is our most exciting whitewater river trip and is NOT for the timid.See you on the Rio!

Powerline Falls Rapid

Powerline Falls Rapid

Vista Verde Hike

In the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Vista Verde hike starts just uphill from Taos Junction bridge. This is a relaxed, mostly level, 2 hr. hike to a great overlook of the Class 4 Taos Box run, on the Rio Grande river. Seen below, “toreva blocks” are pieces of the rim that have slid towards the river and rotated as they descended, so that their once vertical faces are now inclined at an angle.

near Taos, NM

Apache Plume

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

near Taos, NM

Blazing star

near Taos, NM

Boat Reamer rapid

near Taos, NM

Screaming Left rapid

near Taos, NM

The Boulder Field

near Taos, NM

2 kinds of claret cup cactus

near Taos, NM

Grass

near Taos, NM

Greenery

near Taos, NM

Indian paintbrush

near Taos, NM

Kathy and flowers

near Taos, NM

Petroglyphs

near Taos, NM

Petroglyphs

near Taos, NM

Prickly pear cactus

near Taos, NM

Sego lily

near Taos, NM

The Gut

near Taos, NM

Toreva block

near Taos, NM

Toreva block

near Taos, NM

Virginia creeper

near Taos, NM

Yucca

near Taos, NM

Yucca, Apache plume and sagebrush

Taos Box run, on the Rio Grande river.

Marujo Family, New Wave No Wave Float, 4/19/14

The Marujo family, of Alburquerque, joined us on April 19th for the New Wave No Wave float trip, in the Orilla Verde (Green Banks) section of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

On the Racecourse run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Marujo family, 4/19/14

 

New Wave 2014 Season begins with Rio Grande Gorge trip

In conjunction with our partners at Santa Fe Mountain Adventures, we launched our 2014 season-opener this morning (the full-day Rio Grande Gorge trip) , with the Midgen family of California. This trip starts in the Orilla Verde section of the newly-declared Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, passes through the little village of Pilar and finishes with the Racecourse rapids. Their guide today is Britt Runyon. The high temp today will be 75 degrees, with water temp of 57 degrees. What a beautiful day!

On the Rio Grande Gorge run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Midgen family, 4/18/14

On the Rio Grande Gorge run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Midgen family, 4/18/14

 

Rio Grande Spring 2014

Spring is springing along the Rio Grande. The wintering bald eagles must have heard the predictions for an early Spring, because they up and left in the first half of March. The other winter residents – the golden-eye ducks – left shortly thereafter. The mallards and Canada geese appear to have become non-migratory year-round residents. Mergansers are now showing up, and I spotted a pied-billed grebe that I have not seen here before. I heard a peep behind me, and turned to see the bird swimming between myself and the shore. A day later, while standing on the shoreline, an otter popped up 30 feet away and went back under immediately, but we (myself and friend John Lopez) saw the otter swim across the river not far downstream. Yesterday I saw the first golden eagle, having seen a prairie falcon circling around the cliffs earlier. There is a fairly tame pair of western bluebirds now hanging out at the Rio Bravo CG in Orilla Verde, along with a downy woodpecker and other songbirds. I believe the bluebirds will soon continue to the north. Two days ago I saw the arrival of the first broad-tailed hummingbird, which caused me to run into the house and ready the feeders. Today a black-chinned hummingbird showed up at the feeders. Other songbirds now around are dark-eyed juncos, white-crowned sparrows, Say’s phoebes, yellow-rumped warblers,  canyon towhees, and I expect some grosbeaks and western tanagers soon:

Western bluebird along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Western bluebird

Yellow-rumped warbler, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Yellow-rumped warbler

House Finch, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

House Finch

Dark-eyed junco, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Dark-eyed junco

White-crowned sparrow, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

White-crowned sparrow

The water temp in the Rio Grande is now around 55 degrees, and mayflies and caddis flies are showing up – but not yet in sufficient numbers to constitute a “hatch” that brings trout to the surface, to feed in wild abandon. So, while I await such an event, I’ve had to resort to fishing nymphs. I’ve caught a few brown trout on a large, heavily-weighted olive Double-hackle peacock. Here’s a couple of those fish:

Hefty brown trout, from  the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Hefty brown trout

 

Brown trout, from  the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Brown trout

Otherwise, we start rafting on the 18th!!