Rio Chama Wild and Scenic River

The Rio Chama, a major tributary of the Rio Grande, flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon whose walls increase to 1,500 feet above the river as you travel downstream. Co-managed by BLM and the Forest Service (FS), 24.6 miles of the river is Congressionally designated as a Wild and Scenic River and flows through the Rio Chama Wilderness Study Area managed by the BLM, and the Chama River Canyon Wilderness managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the angler or boater. To protect the river environment from overuse, and to maintain an opportunity for a high quality experience, boating is limited to set number of boaters per day. There is a lottery system to assign launch dates.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips


Because of the demand for trips in late spring and summer, the BLM uses a lottery system to reserve weekend (Friday-Saturday) launch dates from April 15 through September 15. Please not that for a launch after September 15 and before April 15, no advance reservation is required – you simply show up at the launch site, fill out a registration form, pay the fees, and go.

Rio Chama Lottery


Geographic Coordinates

36.58237222, -106.7284953


El Vado Ranch is reached via NM 112 from US 84 near Tierra Amarilla. Forest Road 151 just north of Ghost Ranch on US 84 reaches the lower part of the river. Forest Road 151 is a dirt road and not easily accessible when wet.