Wild Rivers Area of the Rio Grande Gorge


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.

Facilities
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.

Activities

• 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 Wild Rivers Trail Map 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.

Map of Wild Rivers Recreation Area


Wild Rivers Recreation Area

Photo Gallery (Flickr)

Hiking/Backpacking Mountain Bike Trail Kayaking Rafting Camping
Picnicking Fishing Horseback Riding Scenic Driving Hunting
Watchable Wildlife

Fees
Self-service pay stations are located at developed camping, picnic and trailhead areas.
Day Use: $3.00/day per vehicle to use the area for 30 minutes or more. An annual day use pass, good for the calendar year, is available for $20.00. 

Camping: $7.00/night for one vehicle, $10.00 for two. Maximum 2 vehicles and 10 people per site. (Additional vehicles may park in day use parking areas at $3.00/day.) Change is available at the Visitor Center or from a Park Ranger or Camp Host. Annual day use passes do not apply to camping fees.

 River Campsites: $5.00/night.
 Group Shelters: $30.00 per day, $40.00 per night.

Season/Hours
Open year-round.
Day Use Hours -- 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. An overnight camping fee will be required for anyone choosing to remain in the recreation area after the specified day use hours. Please observe quiet hours from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Noise levels on radios should be kept to minimum to not disturb others.

Recreation Guidelines
BLM Recreation Guidelines

Special Rules
Campfires – Campfires are allowed in grills or firepans only. Campstoves are recommended. Firewood collection is prohibited. Firewood is available for purchase at the Visitor Center or from a Camp Host. Please do not leave your fire unattended.
Pets – Pets must be kept under control and on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted on Big Arsenic Trail or in freshwater springs.
Fireworks & Firearms – Discharge of fireworks is prohibited within the Recreation Area. Discharge of firearms is prohibited within one mile of a recreation site. Most of the Recreation Area is closed to hunting (except for the Guadalupe Mountains area); hunters are responsible for knowing where and when they are permitted to hunt.
Litter – Separate receptacles for trash and aluminum cans are located at all campgrounds and picnic areas along the rim; please use them and help us keep Wild Rivers clean. Pack out what you pack in!
Cultural Resources – Sites and artifacts dating back many centuries have been found within the Recreation Area. Please protect these valuable resources of the past. Removal or disturbance of these artifacts destroys valuable information and is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

Maps
BLM: Taos
See Contact Information below to obtain maps or visit the Public Lands Information Center.

Contact Information
Taos Field Office
226 Cruz Alta Road
Taos, NM  87571-5983
575-758-8851

Visitors Center
575-586-1150