New Mexico Rivers

The rivers of New Mexico are a wonderful place to take a vacation from the hassles of city life.  Theses waterways bring life out of the desert and are filled with unmatched beauty and wildness.  Visit either one of our two most popular rafting rivers and see.

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande flows out of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in Colorado and journeys 1,900 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It passes through 800-foot chasms of the Rio Grande Gorge, a wild and remote area of northern New Mexico. The canyon provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities, luring fishermen, hikers, artists, and whitewater boating enthusiasts. In 1968, the Rio Grande and Red River were among the first eight rivers Congress designated into the National Wild and Scenic River System to protect outstanding resources values.

The Rio Grande flows through two BLM developed recreation areas – the Wild Rivers Recreation Area and the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. Click on the links for detailed information on them.

A spectacular vista of the Upper Gorge is from the High Bridge Overlook. The Lower Gorge Area of Critical Environmental Concern covers over 16,000 acres of public land along a 14-mile-long stretch of the Rio Grande from the village of Pilar to the Velarde Diversion Dam.

Rio Chama

The Rio Chama, a major tributary of the Rio Grande, flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon whose walls grow to 1,500 feet. The river runs through areas that are designated as wilderness or as wilderness study areas. Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the angler or float boater. Co-managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, the Rio Chama offers the perfect family weekend, with something for everyone — paddling, trout fishing, hiking, exploring dinosaur tracks, and simply relaxing in the shade.

The Rio Chama is a Wild and Scenic River, and was designated by Congress in 1988. To protect the river environment and maintain an opportunity for a high quality experience, boating use has been limited since 1990. Because of the demand for trips in late spring and summer, there is a lottery system to assign launch dates.