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Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande in the United States, known as the Río Bravo (or, more formally, the Río Bravo del Norte) in Mexico, is a river, 1,885 miles (3,034 km) long, and the fourth longest river system in the United States. The river has, since 1848, marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States Rio del Norte was the most common name for the upper Rio Grande (roughly, within the present-day borders of New Mexico) from Spanish colonial times to the end of the Mexican period in the mid-19th century. The use of the modern English name Rio Grande began with the early American settlers in south Texas. By the late 19th century, the name Rio Grande for the entire river, from Colorado to the sea, had become standard in the United States.

The Rio Grande was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997. The Rio Grande rises in the east Rio Grande National Forest in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is formed by the joining of several streams, just east of the continental divide. From there, it flows through the San Luis Valley, then south into New Mexico. Millions of years ago, theRio Grande ended at the bottom of the Rio Grande Rift in Lake Cabeza de Vaca. But about one million years ago the stream was “captured” and began to flow east. The geology that created the 1,800-mile long Rio Grande River, was a millions-of-years-ago rift, or crack, between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the ranges to the west. Volcanic activity filled the crack with lava. About 3 million years ago, water draining from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado began carving the river that dissects New Mexico and, eventually, the west and southwest boundary of Texas and the Texas-Mexico border, before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rio Grande rises in high mountains and flows for much of its length at high elevation. In New Mexico, the river flows through the Rio Grande Rift from one sediment-filled basin to another, cutting canyons between the basins and supporting a fragile bosque ecosystem in its floodplain. But before that runoff settles down to a placid river, it rumbles through far northern New Mexico. The Rio Grande flows out of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in Colorado from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains, and journeys 1,900 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It passes through 800-foot chasms of the Rio Grande Gorge, a wild and remote area of northern New Mexico. In 1968, the Rio Grande and Red River were among the first eight rivers Congress designated into the National Wild and Scenic River System to protect outstanding resources values.

Class II to Class V rapids exist in nine different segments encompassing the Upper Rio Grande Gorge and Lower Rio Grande Gorge. Join us for a Rio Grande rafting adventure this summer!

The Trips

24 Hours On The Rio Grande

Are you interested in an overnight river trip, but not willing to give up two entire days of your vacation? We have just the trip for you! You'll meet us at our headquarters at 2p.m. and we will float the scenic Orilla Verde Section of the Rio Grande with an opportunity to catch the gorgeous evening light on the river that most do not have the pleasure of experiencing. As we settle into our riverside camp, you might opt for an evening hike while we prepare you a meal that will impress your taste buds and leave you ready for stories around the fire. The morning will begin with a hearty breakfast that will fill you up for the day of rapids ahead on the popular class III Racecourse section.We will stop mid way for lunch and swimming and finish up in time to have you back at our headquarters at 2 p.m. We encourage the adventurous folks to consider doing this trip in an inflatable kayak as long as water levels permit.

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Taos Box Overnight

Our premier overnight trip in the Rio Grande Gorge. This trip combines the incredible whitewater and scenery of the Taos Box with the Lower Gorge sections of the Rio Grande for a total of nearly 30 miles of Wild and Scenic River. Sleep out under the stars and enjoy award winning riverside cuisine while experiencing the heart of the Rio Grande Gorge and some of the best whitewater in the southwest!

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2 Day Beginner Whitewater Kayak Instruction

If you want a true introduction the sport of kayaking, this is absolutely your best option. With our 2 New Mexico kayaking day clinic, you're able to take the time to get a full introduction to all the basics of the sport and leave with the confidence and knowledge to pursue kayaking as your new life long passion. Contact us today to learn more: 1-800-983-7756.

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Private or Custom Whitewater Kayak Instruction

If you are looking for one-on-one instruction to the sport of New Mexico whitewater kayaking, or want to work on specific skills at any level, our Private/Custom Whitewater Kayak Instruction is for you!  You will receive individual attention with expert guidance from our staff.  Sign up today!

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Ultimate Whitewater 2-Day

This trip combines the Razorblades and Taos Box sections of the Rio Grande. This is an excellent trip for those looking for a bit more in an overnight trip. Day one includes the same instructional portion as the "Razorblades" day trip but after we hike out of the Gorge for the day we camp on the rim of the gorge with the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains as our backdrop under the stars of the New Mexico skies. The following day takes through the world famous Taos Box section, one of the greatest days of whitewater rafting in the country.

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