Cholla Cactus Blooms in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Early June is when it happens. The cholla cactus blooms, transforming a menacing large cactus into a marvel! This cactus was photographed on 6/9/18, alongside the Rio Grande, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. New Wave Rafting Co travels this stretch of river in both its New Wave No Wave half-day float trip and its Monument full-day float trip. Do you want to do a sunset float trip? Just ask!

What else? Our half-day Racecourse and full-day Rio Grande Gorge trips, with optional funyaks at no extra cost! If you want to try a funyak – which are very easy to master – be sure to mention it to us when booking your trip. The river water is now warm and great for swimming. With summer temperatures here, the river is the best possible place to be!

The first photo shows the Monument Float trip section of the Rio Grande. Below the Monument Float, at Pilar, is the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic section, with the Racecourse Rapids. We’ve got it all!

The second photo is of a mayfly that landed on my hand while I was out fishing. Trout love mayflies, along with caddis flies, which are especially numerous this summer. They eat the immature (underwater), as well as the adult (on the water surface) stages of these insects. The mayfly shown here is a “Rusty spinner”, named because the mating adults spin around in a cloud above the water.

Cholla cactus and funyaks on the river, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

This is a mayfly – trout food!

Cholla Cactus Blooms Along the Rio Grande, NM

The cholla cactus flowers.

Early June is when it happens. The cholla cactus blooms, transforming a menacing large cactus into a marvel! This cactus was photographed on 6/8/18, alongside the Rio Grande, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. New Wave Rafting Co travels this stretch of river in both its New Wave No Wave half-day float and its Monument full-day float. Do you want to do a sunset float? Just ask!

What else? Our half-day Racecourse and full-day Rio Grande Gorge trips, with optional funyaks at no extra cost – just ask for one. The river water is now warm and great for swimming. We saw a golden eagle along the river yesterday, and there are so many ducklings and goslings, you’ll be amazed. It’s a beautiful river!

The Rio Chama, Summer, 2018

Our other river is the Rio Chama, the next drainage to the west of the Rio Grande. It joins the Rio Grande at Española, just 20 miles to the south of our headquarters in Embudo. But it is remarkably unlike the Rio Grande in so far as its scenery is concerned. The Rio Grande runs along the Rio Grande Rift, which is responsible for the lava flows that have blanketed the Taos Plateau. The Rio Grande Gorge is cut into those grey and black flows.

The Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

The Rio Chama, on the other hand, is to the west of all that volcanic activity. It sits on the eastern margin of the Colorado Plateau, that area known for its sandstone scenery. The Rio Chama has cut a canyon into colorful sandstone formations – red, yellow and white strata are seen in the cliffs that contain the river. This is the sandstone scenery made famous in the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, who lived in the Rio Chama Valley, in the small village of Abiquiu.

the Rio Chama

Chama Rock, on the Rio Chama

Rio Chama Canyon, sandstone cliffs and cottonwood

Placid water

Hot spring

Gypsum cliff

Cliffs of Entrada Sandstone

Swiss cheese wall

You can catch rainbow and brown trout in the dam-release waters of the Rio Chama

Reservoir storage on the Rio Chama is now providing good flows (800 cfs) for the 3-day Wilderness (from El Vado Reservoir) and 1-day Rio Chama (from Christ of the Desert Monastery) trips. Get three friends together and give us a call! 800-984-1444/www.newwaverafting.com

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