The Vista Verde Trail in the Rio Grande Gorge is one of the easiest and most pleasant trails in the area. The trail head can be found on the north side of NM 567, mid-slope between the Taos Junction Bridge and the Gorge Rim. It offers a little of everything without being too long or strenuous. The trail itself is about 2.5 miles round trip. There is a small elevation loss near the beginning of the trail and the rest is fairly flat. You will be walking along the first plateau up from the river which is quite wide and offers various overlooks down to the river.
If you know where to look, you will find various petroglyphs both near and far from the trail. There are several areas containing carved symbols left by various Native American tribes, as well as Spanish travelers and others, who moved through the area. Spanish crosses can be seen near the trail. In an area further from the path, there is a grouping of circular designs, as well as depictions of human-like figures and long-flowing curves.
At the end of the Vista Verde Trail, the BLM has put in a nice bench situated perfectly for the best view upstream in the gorge. This is one of my favorite spots to enjoy the river and the gorge. If you like, you can also access the river from here or just simply turn around and start the 1.25 mile return trip to the parking area. Look out for Bighorn sheep year around as well as a large variety of birds of prey including Bald Eagles in the winter months.
Sometimes used by fisherman to access the lower reaches of the largely inaccessible Taos Box canyon, this trail’s various off-shoots down to the river are a nice way to enjoy some nice, private river time. Just be aware of the Taos Box rafters coming around the corner during the higher water months of April through June. I enjoy this area immensely in the winter and in the warmer summer months when the swimming is good and the water temperatures of the Rio Grande are much higher. just remember to always wear a PFD (personal flotation device) when swimming in any swift water. Get out and explore the amazing Rio Grande Gorge!