Orilla Verde Recreation Area
The Orilla Verde Recreation Area is located within the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. Nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande and within the steep-walled Rio 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 Rio 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.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Open year-round.
- Day Use Hours -- 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. An overnight camping fee is required for anyone choosing to remain in the recreation area beyond the day use hours. Please observe quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. No amplified music allowed.
- Campfires – Campfires are allowed in grills or fire rings only. Camp stoves are recommended. Firewood collection is prohibited. 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.
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 mid-April 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. daily. For more information, contact the Visitor Center at 575-751-4899, or the Taos Field Office at 575-758-8851.
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 Orilla Verde Recreation Area is located along NM 570.
The Recreation Area includes trails, seven campgrounds, boat launches, picnic tables, grills, drinking water, 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).
Self-service pay stations are located at the campgrounds and Taos Junction Bridge.
- Day Use: $3/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.
- All camping is on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations are available
- $5/night primitive campsites
- $7/night developed campsites
- $15/night RV site and $3 for extra vehicle.
- Maximum 2 vehicles and 8 people per site. (Additional vehicles may park in day use parking areas for $3/day.)
- Please bring exact change or checks to pay the fees.
- Annual day use passes do not apply to camping fees.
The Rio Bravo Group Shelter and Taos Junction Group Site reservations are made by submitting a request through Randy Roch at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 575-751-4718. Taos Junction Group Site does not include a shelter or electricity but group camping and day-use is still available. Each of the group sites accommodate up to 40 people which includes up to 15 vehicles. Fees for the group sites are $30/day use (10 a.m. - 7 p.m.) and $40/overnight (7 p.m. - 10 a.m.). Additional vehicles are $3 per vehicle.
New: The showers at Rio Bravo campground are open now; showers take only quarters. The cost is $1 (4 quarters) for 4 minutes, then a quarter per minute.
- Biking – Biking is allowed in Orilla Verde except for La Senda del Medio and Picuris trails. The Taos Valley Overlook Trail System adjacent to Highway 68 offers great biking opportunities and is a short drive from the Campgrounds.
- Boating – The Río Grande is a whitewater river ranging from Class II to Class IV rapids, and other river hazards. The segment through Orilla Verde provides an ideal area for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. Life jackets, with the interior label showing for whitewater use, is required to be worn for all boating and floating including stand up paddle boards and inflatables. All boaters must comply with State of New Mexico and BLM regulations for boating safety, equipment, and registration. Launching or takeout is only allowed at the following boat ramps: Taos Junction, Lone Juniper, Río Bravo, and Quartzite. Please observe the Pilar Quiet Zone through the village of Pilar. (Río Grande Segment Descriptions)
- 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 sites 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.
- Fishing – Anglers along the Río Grande will be challenged by brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike. To improve trout fisheries, "Special Trout Waters" have been designated north from Taos Junction Bridge to the Colorado state boundary. Anglers need to be aware of special restrictions which apply in this area (New Mexico’s fishing proclamation is available at the Visitor Center). 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.
- 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.
- Trails - 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.