Bureau of Land Management National Park Service US Fish and Wildlife Service US Forest Service

Rio Grande, New Mexico

Managing Agency:

Bureau of Land Management, Taos Field Office
U.S. Forest Service, Carson National Forest


Designated Reach:

October 2, 1968, and May 4, 1994. The segment extending from the Colorado state line downstream approximately 68 miles to the west section line of Section 15, T23N, R10E. The lower four miles of the Red River.


Classification/Mileage:

October 2, 1968: Wild — 54.9 miles; Recreational — 0.8 miles; Total — 55.7 miles. May 4, 1994: Scenic — 12.5 miles; Total — 12.5 miles. Aggregate Totals: Wild — 54.9 miles; Scenic — 12.5 miles; Recreational — 0.8 miles; Total — 68.2 miles.

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Rio Grande (New Mexico)

The Rio Grande flows out of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in Colorado 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. The canyon provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities, luring fishermen, hikers, artists and whitewater boating enthusiasts. Access in the upper canyon is restricted by the terrain, but several trails lead to the rivers edge. The two most popular whitewater segments are the Taos Box, 17 miles of Class IV whitewater (runnable season generally from the end of April to mid-July), and the five-mile Racecourse, a Class III segment (high use season is generally May through August). The lower canyon is paralleled by state roads, and receives the majority of the recreational use.

The Rio Grande and Red River designation was among the original eight rivers designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic in 1968. The designation was extended by legislation in 1994 to include an additional 12.5 miles of the Rio Grande. The designated area includes 56 miles of the Rio Grande from the Colorado/New Mexico state line to just beyond BLM's County Line Recreation Site, and the lower 4 miles of the Red River.