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

Final Taos Box Trip of 2015, 8/2/15

Final Taos Box Trip of 2015, 8/2/15. There’s lots to see and do on a Taos Box trip – 16 miles of Class 3 and 4 rapids in a wilderness gorge, populated with otters, bighorn sheep, eagles, muskrats, beaver …. The Taos Box is the centerpiece of the recently declared Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which includes the Rio Grande Gorge and wild lands that spread out to either side on the surrounding plains. You can’t get a better one-day wilderness whitewater trip anywhere in the West. Shown here is our last trip of the season, with low water calling a halt to further activity in the Box. It just gets too rocky, as you will see. This fabulous collection of photos were shot by the very talented Britt Runyon, who is New Wave’s Operations Manager and official photographer. He was joined on this trip by guide Joe Cameron. As to next year, if New Mexico benefits from the predicted El Nino, we’ll see good flows in the Rio Grande once again. Think about reserving your Box trip for June, when we get the highest flows of the summer. See you then!!

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Otters

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Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

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One of the introduced bighorn sheep

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Dead Car rapid

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Young bighorn sheep

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Power line Falls. Joe does raft gymnastics.

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Powerline Falls

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Rock Garden scout and sculpted rock

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Rock Garden rapid, with the notorious Camel Rock smack dab in the middle

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Boulder Field entrance

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Fluted Boulder

Taos Box, 5-28-14

This is our third day in a row of running the Taos Box. We had a very short Box season in 2011 and no Box season in 2012 and 2013. I (Steve Miller, VP) joined the trip as a safety boat, with Orlando Torres riding with me. The level, around 8oo cfs was perfect. The weather was neither too hot nor too cold. We made a short stop at Manby Hot Springs, with no one else there. One pool was very warm and enjoyable. We saw a few western tanagers, cliff swallows, white-throated swifts, 2 groups of bighorn sheep and a large beaver, sitting at the entrance to his burrow. Mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies were all hatching, here and there. Apache plume (bush with a white flower) was in bloom all along the riverside. I brought my waterproof point and shoot Lumix camera, and took photos until the point that I handed the camera to Orlando, who could more easily photograph the rapids than I, with my hands on the oars. Here’s 50 photos, which (in my opinion) do a pretty good job of showing off the Box.

Orlando on the left, me on the right, at the put-in

Orlando on the left, Steve on the right, at the put-in

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Manby Hot Spring, upper pool

Manby Hot Spring, upper pool

Manby Hot Spring, lower pool and wagon axle, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Manby Hot Spring, lower pool and wagon axle

View back at Ski Jump rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View back at Ski Jump rapid

View upstream at the Ski Jump beach, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View upstream at the Ski Jump beach

Lunch at Ski Jump beach, and the High Bridge downstream, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Lunch at Ski Jump beach, and the High Bridge downstream

Flowers and foam, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Flowers and foam

The other raft was captained by Neil Oberheide. Here, they are surfing the hole below the bridge

The other raft was captained by Neil Oberheide. Here, they are surfing the hole below the bridge

View upstream to the gully created by the fault that the river follows here, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View upstream to the gully created by the fault that the river follows here

The "dead car", on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

The “dead car”

Bighorn sheep, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Bighorn sheep

Steve Miller, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Steve Miller

Powerline Falls, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Powerline Falls

Powerline Falls, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Powerline Falls

Powerline Falls, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Powerline Falls

Powerline Falls, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Powerline Falls

Entering Rockgarden Rapid, the trickiest of them all, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Entering Rockgarden Rapid, the trickiest of them all

Rockgarden Rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Rockgarden Rapid, with the Fishhook Rock on the right, Sieve Rock ahead and to the left

Camel Rock dead ahead, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Camel Rock dead ahead

Passing to the right of Camel Rock, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Passing to the right of Camel Rock

Upstream view of Camel Rock, behind me, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Upstream view of Camel Rock, behind me

Neil's boat approaching  Camel Rock, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Neil’s boat approaching Camel Rock

Neil's boat, about to pass between the Sharkfin Rock (photo left) and the Broach Rock (photo right), on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Neil’s boat, about to pass between the Sharkfin Rock (photo left) and the Broach Rock (photo right)

Neil's boat exiting the rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Neil’s boat exiting the rapid

Buzzsaw Rock, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Buzzsaw Rock

Big Ugly Rock, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Big Ugly Rock

Big Ugly Rock, view upstream, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Big Ugly Rock, view upstream

Kathy's Cleaver, named for NWR President Kathy Miller,. on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Kathy’s Cleaver, named for NWR President Kathy Miller

Old Fogey Rock sits at the  foot of Boat Reamer, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Old Fogey Rock sits at the foot of Boat Reamer, and is why the rapid is so named

Punk Rock, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Punk Rock

The Gut, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

The Gut

Upstream view rounding the corner of Screaming Left,  on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Upstream view rounding the corner of Screaming Left

In the Boulderfield, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

In the Boulderfield

Miller Time, in the Boulderfield, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Miller Time, in the Boulderfield

Screaming Right, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Screaming Right

View back upstream of Screaming Right, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View back upstream of Screaming Right

View upstream of Screaming Right, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View upstream of Screaming Right

 

Taos Junction Rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Taos Junction Rapid

Flow surface on a basalt boulder, Taos Junction Rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Flow surface on a basalt boulder, Taos Junction Rapid

 

View upstream of Taos Junction Rapid, on the Taos Box run of the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

View upstream of Taos Junction Rapid