Racecourse High Water

Racecourse High Water,  May, 18 2017. Our friends from Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, returned for a Racecourse trip, and enjoyed high water … and cool temps! They, of course, survived. The river is running at 3300 cfs today, making the Racecourse a Class 4 run.

We expect the river to continue rising, what with the fact that it is still snowing in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado! When will it peak?, everyone is asking. Well, normally, I would say the first week of June, but since the climate started getting quirky, it’s anybody’s guess.

I got to leave the office and take some pix of the group. Hope you like them!

The group, with guide Orlando Torres

A good hit in the “Glory Hole”

About to get clobbered in Sleeping Beauty Rapid

Guide Orlando Torres

High Water and Rising, May 11, 2017

High Water and Rising, May 11, 2017. The Rio Grande was running at 3400 cfs yesterday, May 11, 2017. Today it is at 3600 cfs, and continuing to rise. This is an exciting level, and makes the normally Class III Racecourse a Class IV run. Here is a shot of a New Wave raft at Souse Hole Rapid (on the Racecourse) being captained by veteran guide and NWRCo Operations Manager Britt Runyon Huggins. In the raft are two guests (from the English island of Guernsey), along with two of our Guide Training Program participants. Those participants are being joined on the river right now by our returning guides, who are doing required re-training for high water (over 3000 cfs).

High water on the Racecourse.

Souse Hole Rapid, on the Racecourse run, Rio Grande near Taos, NM

How high will the river get this season? We’re all wondering, but are encouraged by the continued snowy weather in the mountains of Colorado. It’s sure to exceed 4000 cfs, but how much higher than that is anyone’s guess. Stay tuned!

Opening Day in the Taos Box, March 2017

Opening Day in the Taos Box, March 2017

The Taos Box team for opening day.

The video found below was taken on New Wave Rafting’s first Taos Box whitewater adventure of the 2017 season.

The Taos Box (short for “box canyon”) is the premier run on the Rio Grande – 16 miles in a vertically-walled wilderness gorge, with challenging rapids (Class 4+) guaranteed to get you wet. It is in the top rank of one-day wilderness whitewater trips in the country, and is included in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico. And, by the way, we haven’t seen high water on the Box for quite some time, and believe that this will be the year when the run-off hits record or near record levels. How much water is that? In rafting parlance, that’s about 8000 cubic feet a second (cfs). Imagine the amount of water contained in 8000 boxes that are twelve inches on a side, going by in a second’s time. Or, 8 times the amount of water seen in the video below!! And the next question is, of course, when will that run-off start in earnest? Generally, the run-off peaks in the first week of June, but we’re betting that the river will stay very high throughout the month. In preparation for that, we’re getting our BIG boats out – our 16 footers – that can handle the very big waves we expect to see, such as in the photo below:

Powerline Falls in the Taos Box in high water

Don’t fail to watch this video of opening day on the Box. You’re just gonna love these guys. They are SO into it. Of course, that’s typical of our customers, who just cannot get enough. Are you that kind of person? Then what are you waiting for?

Make your reservations at:
Or call:  800-984-1444

Guide Training Program On the Rio Grande

Guide Training Program On the Rio Grande Racecourse, New Mexico

Today, on the last day of the instructional phase of our Guide Training Program (GTP), the candidates are practicing on the Racecourse stretch of the Rio Grande, near Taos, NM. On their second run, I took the following movies at three rapids: Big Rocks, Sleeping Beauty and Souse Hole. The level is 1910 cfs, and it’s been raining most of the day, with the temps in the high 40s. Brrrrr!

Vince captaining through all 3 rapids. He has taken the GTP to get the training, without intending to become a guide. The other three candidates (Greg, Michael and Todd) intend to become guides, and will continue into the practice period. We look forward to seeing them join our guide corps.

The GTP group and Britt, after their first run


Big Rocks Rapid

Sleeping Beauty Rapid

Souse Hole Rapid.


Guide Training Program On the Rio Grande, New Mexico

Guide Training Program On the Rio Grande, New Mexico

This is our 35th year of operating our Guide Training Program. Seen here are our trainees for this year, with Instructor Britt Runyon Huggins, Operations Mgr.  for New Wave. The trainees start with 4 days of on-the-water instruction, which ends today, April 25. This will be followed by a practice period that  should ready these candidates for guiding by the end of May. This footage was taken on the Orilla Verde stretch (Class 2), of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, where, on their first day of training, the trainees were learning and practicing fundamental maneuvers. They are now practicing on the Racecourse stretch (Class 3), our most popular run, and will do three trips today. We consider 20 trips on the Racecourse to be the minimum necessary to adequately prepare a guide trainee, and many trainees will do considerably more.

From 2008, trainees practice surfing the raft on the Racecourse stretch

What might the Racecourse look like this season? We expect it to get quite high, and, when and if it does, it becomes Class 4 in difficulty.

Mile-long Rapid on the Racecourse section, at high water (Class 4)

After completing the program, the trainees will receive the required First Aid and CPR training, and are then ready to go. Their first assignments will be to do trips on the Class 3 Racecourse trip, which we operate twice a day. This year’s trainees (Greg, Todd and Michael) are particularly likable individuals, and we look forward to adding them to our guide corps. And we know that our guests will enjoy them, as well. Hope to see you soon!


2017 Season Opener

2017 Season Opener.

With the river running at 700 cfs, we had 11 guests do the PM Racecourse with us on April 11.

The Pittman party (Britt Runyon photo)

A Pittman (Britt Runyon photo)

As regards the coming run-off on the Rio Grande, the snowpack is now at 135% of average, with the peak flows projected to be between 4000 and 8000 cfs! This run-off situation is being compared to that of 1985, which was huge. The peak will probably occur in the first week of June, so you high water addicts should start booking those dates. They will go fast, once the word is out.

The Rio Chama will also have high water, with 135% of average snowpack.

Meanwhile, the Racecourse becomes Class 4 at the higher flows, and may be considered as hard or harder than the Taos Box at max flows. This will require that we raise the minimum age of children on that run, as the water rises. Please inquire!

Mile-long Rapid on the Racecourse section, at high water (Class 4)



2017 Run-off Will Be Well Above Average

2017 Run-off Will Be Well Above Average!

Run-off is predicted to be between 110% and 149% at various spots in the Rio Grande drainage of southern Colorado. See the light-blue and dark-blue circles in south-central Colorado. The peak is usually in early June – that’s when you want to run the Taos Box! Our 2017 season begins on April 15. Join our Taos Box trip scheduled for that day.

Snowpack percentages

Snowpack percentages

Powerline Falls in the Taos Box in high water

Powerline Falls in the Taos Box in high water