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A Cultural History Of The Rio Chama With Dr. Tim Maxwell

Rio Chama Cultural History

Join Us and our good friends at Southwest Seminars for 3-days and 2-nights rafting the Rio Chama led by Dr. Tim Maxwell as we learn about the native history of the river and its valleys that served as a natural corridor from north to south for millennia. Learn about the history of the Early Paleo and Folsom people traveling the Chama River Valley thousands of years ago and their high-quality chert for stone tools was found on the prominent Pedernal Peak. Learn about nomadic residents living 3,000 years heavily used the region as evidenced by obsidian spear points and ancient living sites. After the depopulation of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, new people entered the area and created communities along the river and its tributaries. By the mid-1300’s they built some of the largest prehistoric pueblos in the ancient southwest by using a rock and gravel mulch grid gardens. Learn about the settlement by Spanish colonists, Native hostilities and the floods of the raging Chama River and the dams that finally tamed the river. Visit a grid garden on the last day of the trip.


Dr. Maxwell will share knowledge of the native peoples, history, and the agricultural field systems of the Rio Chama. He is Director Emeritus, New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies and conducted extensive mapping of Chama River cultural sites and the agricultural field systems of the Rio Chama.


The Trip

We will follow the Rio Chama for a 33-mile mellow whitewater rafting adventure from Tierra Amarilla and float through stunningly colorful sandstone and limestone walls and hidden canyons.  The trip ends near Christ in the Desert Monastery and includes a visit to a nearby grid garden.  We will view the spectacular red, yellow, and purple multi-hued cliffs captured by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams.  For more information about this trip, please contact Southwest Seminars.
Trip Type
  • Easy Relaxing
  • History and Culture
  • Rafting
Nearby Cities
  • Abiquiu
  • Albuquerque
  • Angel Fire
  • Red River
  • Santa Fe
  • Taos
  • Taos Ski Valley
  • Rio Chama
  • Adults: $875
  • Please call for dates