The Rio Chama, a major tributary of the Rio Grande, in Northern New Mexico, flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon whose walls grow to 1,500 feet. The river runs through areas that are designated as wilderness or as wilderness study areas. Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons, and historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the angler or float boater, who can enjoy two or three day trips on Class II rapids on the entire 31-mile segment.
Co-managed by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, the Rio Chama, designated ‘Wild and Scenic’® by Congress in 1988, offers the perfect family weekend, with something for everyone, 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. A unique blend of wilderness and living history, the Rio Chama flows serenely by the adobe buildings of the monastery, Church of the Desert, and then slips quietly back into its wild canyons. The scenery is classic, these are the landscapes made popular by the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The warm climate and easy pace make this a perfect trip for families or beginner kayakers.
The 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 she courses her way south to join her sister the Rio Grande. The Rio Chama is run in either full day (approx 5 hrs) or multi-day formats (2&3 day). Full day trips run the river as it comes out of the wilderness section of the canyon and passes into a basin filled with grand wide open vistas and mild class II rapids. Multi-day trips start up near the town of Chama, NM and floats through 33 miles of heavily forest river canyon with stunning soaring sandstone walls highlighted in the pastels of desert color. Multi-day float trips are our guides favorites and the reason we started outfitting in the first place, taking a few days to explore this river canyon is truly worth the time and an excellent family 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.
The Rio Chama Valley