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Orilla Verde Area of the Rio Grande Gorge

Campground and Trail Map

Taos Valley Overlook Trail Map

The Orilla Verde Recreation Area is located within the Río Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Río Grande Wild and Scenic River.  Nestled along the banks of the Río Grande and within the steep-walled Río 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 Río 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 climate at Orilla Verde is semi-arid, with summer thunderstorms common in July and August, and snow possible from October through March.  Summer temperatures range from 45 to 90 degrees, and winter temperatures range from -15 to 45 degrees.

Access to the Orilla Verde Recreation Area is provided by NM 570.  The Visitor Center is located 1 mile south of the Recreation Area in the town of Pilar at the intersection of NM 570 and NM 68.  The Recreation Area includes trails, seven campgrounds, boat launches, picnic tables, grills, drinking water, and restrooms.  Two group shelters are available.

There are seven campgrounds with tables, fire grills, and restrooms.  Four of the campgrounds also have drinking water and shelters available.  Pilar Campground and Río Bravo Campground both have RV sites with water and electric hookup (no sewer).  Pay showers are also available at Río Bravo Campground.

Group Shelters are available by reservation.  Each group shelter accommodates up to 40 people. Fees for the group shelters are $30.00/day use and $40.00/overnight.  For reservations, call 575-758-8851.


• Camping / Picnicking – Seven campgrounds are located at the Orilla Verde Recreation Area.  Each are equipped with tables, grills, and restroom facilities.  The Pilar and Río Bravo Campgrounds offer RV campsites with water and electric hookups (no sewer).  The Campgrounds have drinking water and shelters available, except for the Río Pueblo and Lone Juniper Campgrounds.  Camping is permitted at designated sites only.  
• Swimming – Swimming in the Río Grande is dangerous due to swift currents and cold temperatures.  Swimming is not recommended.  Nudity is not allowed in the Recreation Area.
• Boating – Gentle waters with occasional small rapids through Orilla Verde provide an ideal area for canoeing, kayaking, and non-whitewater rafting.  All boaters must comply with State of New Mexico and BLM regulations for boating safety, equipment, and registration.  Designated boat launches are located at the Taos Junction, Lone Juniper, Río Bravo, and Quartzite sites.  Launching or takeout is only allowed at designated sites.  Please observe the Pilar Quiet Zone through the village of Pilar.  (Río Grande Segment Descriptions)
• Fishing – Anglers along the Río Grande will be challenged by brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike.  All anglers must have a valid New Mexico fishing license and a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Validation in their possession.  Licenses are available at the Río Grande Gorge Visitor Center.  To improve trout fisheries, "Special Trout Waters" have been designated north from Taos Junction Bridge to Colorado.  Anglers need to be aware of special restrictions which apply in this area (New Mexico’s fishing proclamation is available at the Visitor Center).
• Trails - There are wonderful hiking opportunities in the area.  See the Orilla Verde Campground and 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 – Biking is allowed on all trails except the La Senda del Medio and Picuris trails.  The Taos Valley Overlook Trail System off of Highway 68 offers great biking opportunities and is a short drive from the Campgrounds.

Río Grande Gorge Visitor Center – Located in Pilar, NM, at the intersection of NM 570 and NM 68 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.  From May 1 through October, the Visitor Center is open 7 days per week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 7 days per week.  For more information, contact the Visitor Center at 575-751-4899, or the Taos Field Office at 575-758-8851.

Location / Access   
From Taos, follow NM 68 sixteen miles southwest to Pilar, NM and turn northwest on NM 570.

Wild Rivers Recreation Area

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

Self-service pay stations are located at developed campgrounds and day use sites.
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 8 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.  There is a 14-day stay limit.  A maximum of 8 people are allowed per campsite.  There is a maximum of two vehicles per site.  Individual campsite checkout time is 10:00 a.m.  Group shelter checkout time is 11:00 a.m.


RV Sites: $15.00 per night, includes water and electrical hookups. No sewer.

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

Open year-round.
Day Use Hours -- 6 a.m. to 10 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 p.m. to 6 a.m. Noise levels on radios should be kept to minimum at all times.

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.
Fireworks & Firearms – Discharge of fireworks is prohibited within the Recreation Area. Discharge of firearms is prohibited within one mile of a recreation site.
Litter – Receptacles for trash are located at all campgrounds and picnic areas. Help us keep the Orilla Verde Recreation Area 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.

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

Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center