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Whitewater Rafting Guide To River Trips

Rio Grande / Taos Box

Location: Taos, New Mexico

The mighty Rio Grande’s headwaters are in 13,000 foot peaks in the San Juan Mountains. The second longest river system in the United States, the Rio Grande meanders, plunges, and cuts its way through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas toward the Gulf of Mexico. In New Mexico, The Rio Grande has two main sections for rafting near Taos: the Taos Box and the Racecourse Run. Both sections feature beautiful scenery, black basalt cliffs, and numerous wildlife species; the difference between the two trips is mostly the difficulty of the rapids. The Taos Box, a more dramatic, deep canyon, is famous for its big, technical Class IV rapids, while the Racecourse Run is a Class III stretch better suited for first-time rafters and families.

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Level of Difficulty: Class IV / Intermediate

Near the famous ski resort town, Taos, the Rio Grande flows through a deep, dramatic canyon that was formed by the river thousands of years ago. Ancient Native American pictographs and artifacts remind rafters of the fascinating history of the Taos Mesa. Due to its obvious beauty, wildlife, and history, the Taos Box section of the Rio Grande was one of the first eight rivers granted National Wild and Scenic status in 1968. The whitewater is an added bonus to the picturesque desert scenery. Advanced paddlers will delight while crashing through rapids such as Buzz Saw, The Cleaver, Boat Reamer, and Punk Rock. Taos Box rafting trips provide excitement, solitude, and an intimate way to explore the Taos Mesa.

Racecourse Run: Class III/ Beginner

A Class III section of the Rio Grande, the Racecourse Run is the perfect balance between great whitewater and slower sections that will allow rafters time to enjoy the spectacular setting. Like the Taos Box, rafting trips on the Racecourse Run enjoy outstanding scenery, Native American history, and numerous species of wildlife that live in the Rio Grande canyon. Eagles, falcons, owls, geese, and mergansers are just a few of the birds that dwell in this healthy bird sanctuary.

Season: Taos Box: April – July; Racecourse Run: May – October

Taos Box rafting is available during the Spring and early Summer and rafting trips on the Racecourse Run are offered from May through October.