Rio Grande, New Mexico, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||69 fpm|
|RIO GRANDE NEAR CERRO, NM|
|usgs-08263500||300 - 3000 cfs||V||01h22m||445 cfs (running)|
The one major thing you have to watch out for on this run are the sieves, they are everywhere! Some are much worse than others. Don't be fooled by the gradient. This river is the definition of pool-drop and doesn't waste any of its' gradient on easy rapids in between the big rapids. In general the rapids are long technical boulder gardens with lots of sieves. The riverbed is composed of large angular basalt rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. Keep in mind that this is not Gore Canyon, keep the playboat at home! In fact, this run is always a good solid grade higher in difficulty that Gore at similar levels. The 3 mandatory scouts are NCO, Hell Hole, and Big Arsenic. These rapids have big drops at the entrance, and currents that push hard into sieves below. Swimming is not recommended! Fortunately there is ample opportunity to scout and portage as the cliffs are located high up on the rim, not at river level.
For many the run is defined by the takeout. You have 2 less than appealing options. You can float out on 9 miles of flat water, or take a 45 minute hike to the rim at Little Arsenic Trail. Although the Little Arsenic takeout is by far preferred, it does climb 750 feet up in .8 miles. The best camping is at the end of the takeout trail.
The reaches of the Taos Box area are...
Ute Mountain (Class II),
Razors (Class III/IV),
Upper Box (Class V/V+),
Lower Box (Class III/IV),
Pilar (Class III/IV),
Otowi Bridge (Class III),
Red River (Class IV),
Rio Pueblo (Class V+), and
Rio Embudo (Class V+).
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|4.0||The Great Calm||I|
|4.5||Boulder Fan Rapid||5.0|
|5.0||Big Arsenic Rapid||5.1|
|5.5||Little Arsenic Rapid||5.0|
|5.8||Little Arsenic Rapid Junior||5.0|