Wild Rivers Map
The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is located within the Río Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Río Grande Wild and Scenic River and Red River Wild and Scenic River. Here visitors may experience the beauty of an 800-foot deep canyon sliced into volcanic flows by the Río Grande (Spanish for Great River) and Red River where they come together.
Located in the high plains of northern New Mexico, this area is rich with history, rugged beauty, and enticing recreational opportunities. A back country byway, visitor center, campgrounds, picnic facilities, and trails are available for visitors. Several spectacular overlooks are found here, including La Junta Point, one of the most dramatic views in the state, overlooking the confluence of the Red River and the Río Grande -- and it is wheelchair accessible.
The canyon ecosystem descends 800 feet from rim to river, creating a unique diversity in plant and animal life. Ancient piñon 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.
The Wild Rivers Recreation Area has a back country byway, a visitor center, trails, five developed campgrounds, picnic tables, grills, drinking water, and restrooms. Two group shelters also are available -- La Junta, which accommodates up to 50 people and El Aguaje, which accommodates up to 30 people.
• Camping/Picnicking – Five campground areas located at the Wild Rivers area. Each are equipped with tables, grills, drinking water, and restroom facilities. One of the camping areas requires hiking down into the canyon to where 16 primitive campsites are located. There are two large group camping sites. In total, there are 40 campsites available. Camping is permitted in designated sites only. To protect vegetation, please use hardened tent sites only.
• Swimming – Swimming is dangerous in the river and not recommended due to swift currents and cold temperatures. To protect water quality, swimming is not allowed in freshwater springs.
• Boating – Boating in this area can be extremely hazardous, requiring superior whitewater skills and specialized equipment. River access requires hiking boats and equipment into the gorge. All boaters must register or obtain a permit at the Wild Rivers Visitor Center or Little Arsenic Trailhead prior to launching. (Río Grande Segment Descriptions).
• Fishing – Río Grande anglers are challenged by northern pike and brown trout. The Red River supports a fishery of rainbow trout stocked by the Red River Fish Hatchery located upstream of the Recreation Area. All anglers must have a valid New Mexico fishing license and a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Validation in their possession. Fishing licenses are sold in Questa. To improve trout fisheries, Special Fishing Regulations are in effect. The daily bag and possession limit is 4 fish per license holder.
• Trails – Most trails begin from campgrounds where day use parking spaces are provided. See the Río Grande Gorge Visitor's Guide for trail locations. Trails are steep and hiking can be strenuous. Good physical condition, sturdy shoes, and plenty of drinking water are necessary. For more information on other trails in the recreation area, please stop by or call the visitor center.
• Biking – Unless signed otherwise, all roads on BLM lands are available for mountain biking. Please do not ride cross country. Three trails are open to mountain bikes: Rinconada Loop Trail, Red River Fault Trail, and Guadalupe Mountain Trail.
• Scenic Driving – The 13-mile, paved Wild Rivers Backcountry Byway provides visitors with access to the many scenic views and recreational opportunities in the Recreation Area.
Wild Rivers Visitor Center – The Visitor Center provides information about the recreation experiences to be had in the area as well as about the geological and natural history of this diverse and interesting area. The Visitor Center is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with additional hours as staffing permits. After Labor Day, the Visitor Center is open as staffing permits. For more information, contact the Visitor Center at 575-586-1150 or the Taos Field Office at 575-758-8851.
Location / Access
From Taos, follow NM 68 north 7 miles. Take NM 522 approximately 20 miles to Questa. Travel 3 miles past the stoplight in Questa to NM 378. Turn left onto NM 378 and follow the signs about 12 miles west to Wild Rivers Recreation Area. Also see Wild Rivers Recreation Area Map.