Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
The Rio Grande was one of the first 8 rivers incorporated into the National Scenic and Wild River System by Congress in 1968. In northern New Mexico, the rivers travels through an 800' deep chasm of steep volcanic walls (the Rio Grande Rift). The possibility of continued volcanic activity in the canyon is evidenced by the number of hot springs that surface next to the river all through the canyon. The area is a favorite among fishermen and whitewater rafting enthusiasts.
The photo above is taken from the edge of the canyon just below Taos. It is indicative of what the Rio Grande Gorge looks like for most of it's journey from the Colorado border to where it exits White Rock Canyon just above Cochiti Lake (although there is an area of no gorge between Velarde and Black Mesa where the Espanola Valley opens up and the Rio Chama flows in from the west to merge with the Rio Grande).
The BLM manages 2 developed recreation areas along the Rio Grande: the Wild Rivers Recreation Area west of Questa and the Orilla Verde Recreation Area northwest of Pilar. Both areas offer camping, picnicking, toilets and trash receptacles. Day-use parking and camping fees are required for parking in either recreation area. Both recreation areas are open year round but winter conditions can be severe.
Maps: BLM - Taos, Wheeler Peak
The Taos Gorge Bridge
The Rio Grande Gorge from below Taos
In the Orilla Verde area
The Rio Grande south of Pilar
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