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Difficulty II-III(IV) at this flow (II-III(IV) normally)
Length 19 Miles
Flow Range 800 - 3500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 39 minutes ago 44.5 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/15/2017 3:55 am

River Description

A beautiful run through a narrow, steep gorge. It's seldom runnable, but well worth it.  Information on the geology of the area can be found at the NM Tech Geoscience info page for Villanueva State Park

Rapids: There are many class II and III rapids with a few class IV depending on flow.

Land Ownership & Permissions: NM State Parks, Santa Fe National Forest, USFS & Private

Length: 19 miles

Recommended Craft: Kayaks, canoes, and small rafts at all water levels for ease of portaging.

Season: When the snow's melting after a good ski season, or after really heavy rains. Boaters with experience on this run recommend 700 - 800 cfs at the Villanueva gauge as a minimum. Evidence of the existense of this guage is elusive. The Pecos guage at Pecos is about 45 miles upstream, and the Anton Chico one is roughly 10 miles downstream.  Be aware that the Tecolotito does come in just above the Tecolotito bridge and can add a modest amount to the guage an Anton Chico.


Put in:

    • Villanueva State Park
    • El Cerrito a few miles down. (The road from Bernal to El Cerrito can be impassable in heavy rains)
  • Take Out: Tecolotitto bridge

It's a good practice to talk to the locals about where they recommend parking. It's wise to keep the group size small to minimize the need for parking.


There are two large diversion dams. One is about 2 miles below Villanueva State Park, a mile above El Cerrito, and the other is right as the canyon starts to open up roughly a mile before the Tecolotito bridge.

At flows high enough to cause the status of the guage at Anton Chico to report "Flood Damage", there were roughly 5 fences across the river that still were somewht above water. Many more were out in the river near the banks. There were also many strainers which may become more of a problem at lower flows.

Logistics: The shuttle is a little over an hour on paved roads, and it's recommended to camp at Villanueva State Park in order to get an early start. At most flows it's a very long day.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

The Pecos at Anton Chico is the closest guage. Minimum flow should be somewhere around 800

Directions Description

Recommend N on US 84 to I-25. Then south to NM-3. Take NM-3 south to Villanueva.

No Accident Reports



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We Need your Help to Protect Paddlers’ Access to New Mexico Rivers and Streams

Kestrel Kunz

Rivers once promoted by the New Mexico State Parks Division in their publication “New Mexico Whitewater - A Guide to River Trips” are now being blocked by private landowners with barricades, cables and No Trespassing signs. This includes upper Chama and Pecos river segments. Privatizers have filed additional applications that would close several other river segments in New Mexico, and their lawyers are threatening an “immense wave” of constitutional “litigation” in the event that “any action by the Court, the Legislature, the Department, or the Commission… restrict[s] landowners’ rights to prevent the public from using their streambeds underlying public waters.” American Whitewater has been working with our local partners in New Mexico to ensure that this new Rule is rescinded. We need your support to win this battle. If you’re in a position to contribute, doing so will help us with legal expenses for our partners and outreach.

article main photo

NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!

Kestrel Kunz

We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form! 


Tim Scofield


Kestrel Kunz


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202745 09/19/13 Tim Scofield n/a
1202746 09/20/13 Tim Scofield Initial input
1208089 07/15/17 Kestrel Kunz