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Rio Chama River

Co-managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, the Rio Chama was designated ‘Wild and Scenic’® by Congress in 1988. This visually stunning and culturally rich area offers a wide variety of adventures for creating the perfect family or friends weekend, with something for everyone including paddling, trout fishing, hiking, exploring dinosaur tracks, simply relaxing in the shade, or stretching out in the warm sun of the New Mexico wilderness. The Rio Chama winds quietly through pinon pine forests and desert scenery and provides a unique blend of wilderness and living history that includes sights such as the adobe buildings of the monastery, Christ in the Desert, as well as wild forested canyons and classic desert southwest vistas. These are the landscapes made popular by the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The warm climate and easy pace make this the perfect setting for many of our trips and are especially popular for families, beginners or those in search of an easy and relaxing adventure.

The Rio Chama River Canyon

Rio Chama River RaftingA major tributary of the Rio Grande in Northern New Mexico, the Rio Chama flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon whose walls rise to over 1,500 feet above the river. This multifaceted river canyon runs through areas designated wilderness or wilderness study areas and includes towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites. This unspoiled area offers some of the best and most picturesque opportunities available in the southwest for world-class hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing and much more.

Rio Chama River Activities

The river itself provides any number of unique experiences that include rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and, of course, fishing. Enjoy two or three day trips down the entire 31-mile segment on Class II rapids, with great guides, food and friends (new and old).

Rio Chama River Trips

Rio ChamaThe Rio Chama is an easy float trip in full or multi-day rafting formats. This Jewel of the desert meanders through spectacular southwestern landscapes and serene wilderness as it courses its way south to join the Rio Grande. The Rio Chama is run in either full day (approx 5 hrs) or multi-day formats.

Full day trips run the part of the river that includes the wilderness section of the canyon and passes a basin filled with grand wide open vistas with mild class II rapids.  View all full day trips…

Multi-day trips start up near the town of Chama, NM and float down the 33 miles of heavily forest river canyon against a backdrop of soaring sandstone walls highlighted with desert pastels.  Multi-day float trips are our guides favorites and the reason we started outfitting in the first place. These trips explore this river canyon over the course of several days and are a unique family or friends experience that you will remember for a lifetime. New Mexico River Adventures supplies all the necessary equipment and meals for a multi-day float trip for your group or family to be truly comfortable. View all multi-day trips…

Rio Chama River Map

Rio Chama Map

Rio Chama River Photos

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