4 Places for the Best White Water Rafting in Taos

The city of Taos, NM is nestled within the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where several tributary rivers migrate with the Rio Grande. For this reason, Taos is considered as the top destination for white water rafting in New Mexico!

There are several prime locations for white water rafting in Taos, each boasting its own unique features. That way, whether you’re a skilled rafter or this will be your first white water rafting adventure, you’ll find an experience that is perfectly catered to you.

Read on to learn more about the best places for white water rafting in Taos, and don’t forget to request your FREE Chimayo Vacation Guide to find even more exciting activities for your Northern New Mexico itinerary.

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4 Locations for White Water Rafting in Taos

1. Wild Rivers Recreation Area

Simply known as “Wild Rivers” by the locals, the Wild Rivers Recreation Area boasts three different sections for white water rafting in Taos.

To get here, drive approximately 30-miles north of Taos and into the village of Questa. The access road to Wild River Recreation Area will be just up the road from here. Once you arrive, be prepared to hike to your chosen area.

The upper-most section of the river is called the Razorblades. It is the most remote of the three areas and provides rafters with fun yet challenging Class IV rapids.

The next section is known as Taos Box rafting. This is where you’ll find the Class V rapids and some of the most challenging sections of the Rio Grande River. Please keep in mind that Taos Box needs be at a specific flow level for safe passage. If the water is too high or too low, rafting here could prove to be dangerous. However, if the levels are appropriate, you’ll be sure to get a thrill out of the steep drops, large hydraulics, and powerful waves.

The last white water rafting section of the Wild River Recreation Area is known as La Junta, or “Middle Box.” This section is much more suited to beginners with its calmer rapids and stunning canyon views.

Wherever you decide to raft in the Wild River Recreation Area, a stock of thrilling adventures will be in store for you!

2. Orilla Verde Recreation Area

Located just south of Taos in the Lower Gorge, the Orilla Verde Recreation Area is a wonderful float section with a few mild Class II rapids.

This is a popular choice for beginners and families in search of a more leisurely river rafting adventure. Plus, you’ll be treated awe-inspiring sights such as towering basalt cliff walls and the Ortega Quartzite.

3. Racecourse

The Racecourse section of the river boasts excellent Class III rapids punctuated by a series of fun and splashy drops. Many kayakers populate this section of the river as well for its heart-pumping rapids yet relatively relaxing stretches.

After an approximate three hour journey, you’ll enter the El Bosque section for a nice float through some of New Mexico’s earliest inhabited corridors of the river.

4. Rio Chama

Located about an hour west of Taos, Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande River. If you’re hoping to enjoy scenic views during your rafting trip, this is the place to go since it is located in the heart of Georgia O’Keefe country.

During your mellow ride down the Class II rapids, you’ll encounter 1,500 foot desert canyon walls painted in red and yellow, heavily wooded side canyons, and more.

Find Your Ideal Expedition With New Mexico River Adventures

New Mexico River Adventures (NMRA) is recognized as the state’s top rated outfitter and supplies a wide number of outdoor adventure options to choose from, including white water rafting in Taos. From full-day rafting excursions to half-day floats, you’ll be sure to find an experience that perfectly meets your skills and desires.

Here are just a couple examples to help you get started.

  • Racecourse Half Day: This is NMRA’s most popular rafting trip, and for good reason! Enjoy the Class III rapids of Racecourse with enough time left in the day to explore Taos and other New Mexico destinations.
  • Taos Box Full Day: For a fun-filled thrill, this is the trip for you! Since the beginning sections of this river are calmer, you and your team will work together to work on your paddling techniques in preparation for the upcoming rapids. Once you reach the final five miles, you’ll be in for a much more intense and heart-pounding adventure!

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