Call: (800) 984-1444
Bode’s General Store, on Hwy 84, in Abiquiu, at 9 AM (See Map)
This 3 day rafting vacation floats 31 miles through canyons of vividly colored sandstone and forests of tall conifers (Class 2 and 3/Easy to Moderate). Minimum age is 8. Minimum 6 persons.
Camping gear, seven robust meals, life jacket, rain-gear, helmet and paddle.
Appropriate footwear for yourself (running shoes or sport sandals with extra strap or water shoes or dive booties, personal items, BYOB. See personal gear recommendations on the Trip Confirmation.
We meet at Bode’s General Store, on Hwy 84, in Abiquiu (you can’t miss it) at 9 AM of Day 1 (Friday) and return you there in mid-afternoon of Day 3 (Sunday). Don’t leave valuables in your car. It’s better to take them with you on the river (wallet, car keys, cash etc.) Driving time to Abiquiu from Santa Fe is about an hour, from Taos about an hour and a quarter. We will provide you with a list of what to bring prior to the trip.
The Rio Chama rises in the southern San Juan mountain range of southern Colorado, in the South San Juan Wilderness Area, just north of the New Mexico State line. It enters New Mexico near the mountain town of Chama, known as the western terminus of the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge tourist railway. It is the largest tributary of the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Downstream of Chama the river is impounded by El Vado Dam. Below the dam the river enters a wilderness gorge, which is designated by the US Congress both as a National Wild and Scenic River and the Chama River Canyon Wilderness Area.
The trip starts at the Cooper Ranch, located on NM 112, just downstream of El Vado Dam. The raft trip through the 31 mile Chama Canyon is done in two or three days. New Wave Rafting prefers three days, to allow plenty of time to appreciate the great beauty of the Chama Canyon. The whitewater on the Rio Chama is generally mild, Class 2 (“easy”). The scenery, however, is spectacular. Large colorful sandstone cliffs tower above the river, while forests of tall pines and firs line the banks. The horizontally-striped cliffs, in shades of red, white and yellow, are seen in the paintings of the world-renown artist Georgia O’Keefe, who lived not far downstream from the Canyon in the town of Abiquiu.
A short hike up a side-canyon reveals dinosaur tracks in the sandstone bed of a dry wash and trout can be caught in the river. Hot springs and interesting ruins are also encountered. The wilderness section ends where the river passes the Christ in the Desert Monastery. The Monastery is located at the end of Forest Road 151, which comes into the Canyon from the south, and follows the river upstream for 9 miles. Here, where the river canyon widens, the forest of coniferous trees yields to groves of large cottonwood trees. The canyon walls are more set back from the river, but remain unbroken to the end of the trip and the whitewater increases somewhat in difficulty, to Class 3- (on the easy side of moderate).
The trip ends at the “Big Eddy” take-out, just upstream of the furthest upstream reach of another impoundment, Abiquiu Lake. Forest Road 151 returns you to US 84, in the vicinity of the scenic Echo Amphitheater and the Ghost Ranch Conference Center, both north of the town of Abiquiu.
The portion of the river downstream from the Christ in the Desert Monastery can also be done as a full-day trip, the Rio Chama 1-Day. A minimum of 4 is required for this trip. Please call to reserve, or make further inquiries.