Embudo means "funnel" in Spanish, and this river certainly lives up to its name! Shortly after it is formed (at the confluence of the Rio Pueblo and Rio Santa Barbara), it plunges into a narrow granite gorge which contains 5 miles of continuous Class V to V+. This is old-school creeking; not really any big vertical drops to run, but extremely continuous rapids with big hydraulics. High-water runs are hectic, and there will be extended sections without being able to eddy out. In general the rapids are very clean, smooth, water-polished granite drops. There are very few strainers and sieves, so the primary danger is flush drowning.
This is an isolated area with an Indian reservation near the put-in and a conservative Hispanic community near the takeout. They don't like boaters or outsiders, period. Harassment in the past has included throwing kayaks into the rapids while you're scouting, firing shots off in your direction, and vandalizing your car. This usually has been the result of out-of-state boaters driving through town at 60 mph with a stack of boats on the roof; Can you say "easy target?" It's best to drive slowly in this area, be respectful, and keep a low profile. If you do that, you probably will have no problems.
Check out pics of Rio Embudo (and many other Central Rockies classics) taken at Low and Medium water levels.To get there:Do not park at the highway bridge takeout (as described in Colorado Rivers and Creeks, II).
The "arroyo" takeout is the preferred takeout.
Check newmexicoh2o.com for details on the put-in/take-out; They are difficult to find.
The reaches of the Taos Box area are:
Absolutely a classic run. Check out the Embudo Facebook page for flows, updates, boating partners, etc. Don't take this place lightly though -its gnar.
The gage is not reliable. Ask about flows before putting on.
This is one of those runs where inches of difference on the gauge equate to feet of difference in the water level in the gorges.
The run gets progressively better up to 3.3 (the ideal level); Above that it bets progressively scarier and HUGE!
At low water (<3.0) this is a bony Class IV/V run.
At medium (3.0-3.3) it gets harder/pushier and rates a solid Class V. This is the best level for the Lower Gorge.
At high water (>3.4) this run changes character considerably and becomes a solid V+ that should be attempted only by those who are familiar with the run. The flush drowning risk is extreme. It is advisable to not run the lower gorge at high flows. Everything has been run up to about 4.6, a truly mind-bending sick level.
Both Guidebooks use the old feet/stick numbers. The following correlation, obtained from the Embudo Facebook page, can be useful for determing the level when using those numbers.
At all levels, keep in mind that this is a remote gorge with little to no chance of escape if things go wrong! It is good idea to check the Embudo Facebook page for current conditions and levels.
How to estimate the flow using a virtual guage, from atom via the embudo facebook page.
"The only way to truly judge the CFS is to Subtract the CFS flow from the RIO GRANDE BLW TAOS JUNCTION BRIDGE NEAR TAOS Gauge from the RIO GRANDE AT EMBUDO Gauge."
RIO GRANDE BLW TAOS JUNCTION: USGS page, American Whitewater page
RIO GRANDE AT EMBUDO: USGS page, American Whitewater page
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
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Entrance to Slots
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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.
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!
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