Wild Rivers Recreation Area

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is located within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and along the Rio 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 Rio Grande (Spanish for Large 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 Rio 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 pinon and juniper forests include 500 year-old trees. Watchable wildlife opportunities include mule deer, big horn sheep, elk, red-tailed hawk, and mountain blue-bird. 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.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips



Self-service pay stations are located at developed camping, picnic and trailhead areas.

  • Day Use: $3.00/day per vehicle. An annual day use pass, good for the calendar year, is available for $20.00. 
  • Camping: $7.00/night for up to two vehicles. Maximum two vehicles and 10 people per site. (Additional vehicles may park in day use parking for $3.00/day.) Annual day use passes do not apply to camping fees.
  • Wild Rivers Inner Gorge Primitive campsites: $5.00/night.
  • Wild Rivers, La Junta and Aguaje group shelters:$30.00 per day, $40.00 per night. Group shelter reservations are made by submitting a request through BLM_NM_TAFO-Admin@blm.gov.


  • Recreation area is 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 to not disturb others.


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. Group shelter reservations are made by submitting a request through BLM_NM_TAFO-Admin@blm.gov.

Wild Rivers Visitor Center

The Zimmerman 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 five days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Wednesday and Thursday. For more information, contact the Taos Field Office at 575-758-8851.


  • Biking – Three trails are open to mountain bikes:  Rinconada Loop Trail, Red River Fault Trail, and Guadalupe Mountain Trail. Unless signed otherwise, all roads lands in Wild Rivers are available for mountain biking. Please do not ride cross country.    
  • 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 by calling the River Program at the Taos Field Office (575) 758-8851 prior to launching. (Río Grande Segment Descriptions).  
  • 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. 
  • Fishing – Río Grande anglers are challenged by Rio Grande Cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout, as well as northern pike. The Red River supports a fishery of rainbow trout stocked by the Red River Fish Hatchery located upstream of the Recreation Area. To improve trout fisheries, Special Fishing Regulations are in effect. 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.  The daily bag and possession limit is 4 fish per license holder. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
    •  El Aguaje Trail – Trail conditions may be difficult in some areas due to topography and weather occurrences.


  • Campfires – Campfires are allowed in grills or firepans only. Camp stoves 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Pets – Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted in freshwater springs.

Wild Rivers Recreation Area


Geographic Coordinates

36.680806, -105.666666


The Visitor Center is located in Cerro, NM, at 1120 Cerritos Road (NM-378). Go north from Questa on NM 522 and turn left on State Road 378; the Visitor Center is about 17 miles from the turn off. The visitor center is open five days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Wednesday and Thursday.


Please see the Fees Section below.