The Rio Grande in Rocks

Just downstream of Taos Junction Rapid, on the Rio Grande of northern New Mexico, is a group of basalt rocks that, at high water, are vigorously washed by strong currents. The sediment carried by the high water sculpts and polishes these rocks. To my eye, the sculpting of the rocks model the river’s waves, while the polish on the rocks model the river’s gleam.

These basalt rocks are derived from the lava flows that the Rio Grande has cut through, in excavating the Rio Grande Gorge. Here, the river follows a very large systems of faults which, together, form the Rio Grande Rift. In New Mexico, this rift stretches north to south from the Colorado border, in the north, to the Texas border, in the south. It is these faults that spewed out the lava that covers much of this area. This north-central part of the state is now contained in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico, which makes us very proud. The Rio Grande Gorge is the centerpiece of the Monument, and it is neighbored by volcanic cones that stand above the flat lava-covered plateau, with herds of bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn antelope and deer that graze there. The gorge also provides nesting habitat for raptors such as the golden eagle and peregrine and prairie falcons, while a winter retreat for bald eagles. One will see beaver, muskrats and even otters in the river, along with plenty of waterfowl, including wintering flocks of canada geese, goldeneyes, buffleheads, widgeons and gadwalls. And one can catch brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, northern pike and carp in the river.

Here are some of the critters mentioned above, all photographed along the Rio Grande.

Otter

Bald eagle

Mule deer

Coyote

Beaver

Bighorn sheep

What else? Well, of course, there is world-class whitewater available in the summer months, which includes the Taos Box run (and Taos Junction Rapid) that carries you 16 miles through the wilderness of the Rio Grande Gorge. Come visit us summer or winter!

Taos Box

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