Rio Grande Gorge Whitewater Rafting at Orilla Verde National Recreation Area

Rio Grande Gorge Whitewater Rafting at Orilla Verde National Recreation Area

March through June are typically high water months. The Race Course flows all summer long with the waves becoming technical maneuvers, around boulders, over drops and through tight squeezes.
It’s great family fun on a hot summer day rafting the cool waters of the Rio Grande.

This Rio Grande rafting trip traverses the calm oxbows of the Orilla Verde National Recreation Area. The open canyon allows scenic views of towering basalt cliffs, high desert ecosystems, a lush riverside habitat, Class II rapids, and swimming.

Several Class II rapids occur throughout the outing, in between calm stretches perfect for swimming. Float through the village of Pilar, New Mexico where you will observe a quiet zone to minimize the impact of the passage through this historic, small New Mexico community.

Meet at Pilar Cafe, located 16 miles south of Taos, New Mexico, on State Highway 68-mile marker 28), at 8:15 A.M. or 12:15 P.M.

The Orilla Verde Recreation Area is located within the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. Nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande and within the steep-walled Rio Grande Gorge, the campgrounds in this area offer nearby access to the river. The elevation along the river is 6,100 feet and the steep canyon rises 800 feet from the river to the Gorge rim.

Gentle waters with occasional small rapids flow through Orilla Verde, providing an ideal setting for many recreational activities. Because of the dramatic changes in elevation and the diversity of plant life, Orilla Verde draws many species of animals, including raptors (such as eagles and hawks), songbirds, waterfowl, beaver, cougar, ringtail, mule deer, and more. The Rio Grande also has attracted humans since prehistoric times. Evidence of ancient peoples is found throughout the Recreation Area in the form of petroglyphs on the rocks and many other types of archaeological sites.

The canyon ecosystem descends 800 feet from rim to river, creating a unique diversity in plant and animal life. Ancient piсon and juniper forests include 500 year-old trees. Watchable wildlife opportunities include mule deer, red-tailed hawk, mountain blue-bird, and prairie dog. The climate is semi-arid with summer thunderstorms common in July and August, and snow possible from November through March. Summer temperatures range from 45 to 90F and in winter from -15 to 45F.

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