Wet ‘n Wild White Water Fun on the Rio Grande
White water rafting has been one of those things that have been on my bucket list to do for a long time. So, when I discovered that there were class IV rapids close by in New Mexico I jumped on the opportunity! After a little research I decided to get in an excursion lead by New Mexico River Adventures and they did not disappoint! After purchasing a GoPro the day before to record all the great footage I anticipated getting, I made the drive up to the Santa Fe area of New Mexico early that morning.
Arriving at the headquarters, I was outfitted with a wet suit, splash jacket, life vest and a helmet. They even were kind enough to provide me with a helmet which already had a mount for my GoPro attached. After making some conversation with a couple of the other groups of adventurers there we bundled into a pair of vans and were off! About forty-five minutes later we arrived at the mighty Rio Grande!
Breaking up into groups of four we all joined a guide who would be our Captain manning the back of the boat and steering, while the four of us in the boat acted as the engine to propel us along the river. After chatting with my ship mates who were from the Middle East I quickly discovered that none of us had been rafting before. “Sorry!” I said jovially to our guide. In return he happily told us that he wasn’t worried, just listen to his directions and we would do just fine. Secretly, I hoped someone would fall overboard or that our boat would tip over, to make for some better and more exciting video footage! I wasn’t going to actively try and make it happen though.
We were doing the “Taos Box” portion of the Rio Grande which would be a full day trip and consist of about 5-6 hours on the water. There were a couple class III rapids mixed in with many class IV rapids. Having never White Water rafted before, I didn’t exactly know what to expect but I knew it would be some wet and wild fun! Interspersed throughout the White Water were periods of calm water, where we could take in all of the beautiful views. Floating along the Rio Grande we were primarily down inside a large chasm which was as deep as 800 feet at the deepest point we passed through. There was also a great deal of wild life on display. Along the trip we saw many long horn sheep including a group of 3 adult females accompanied by 3 babies, and various types of birds including a pair of geese and their babies, many canyon finches and hawks.
The rapids were great fun! Though, shorter and farther spaced apart than I had anticipated. When I pictured white water rapids in my mind, I was picturing a long continuous stretch of violent frothing rapids. Instead it was often a long stretch of relatively calm, though quickly flowing, waters in between the various sections of rapids. The rapids were appropriately named with intimidating titles such as the “Dead Car Rapids” and “Dead Kayak Rapids” each with an actual wrecked car up on the bank a short while after or a pair of shattered Kayak’s along the shore after the rapids.
Each set of rapids had a story to go along with its name. For example “Dead Car Rapids” was aptly named because a pair of brothers decided they were going to attempt to jump the canyon in their car, equipped with parachutes to bail out with if they were not going to successfully make the jump. Judging by the extremely crushed car on the bank, they clearly did not succeed. I am not sure if they were able to successfully bail out and use their parachutes or not. Even certain rocks are aptly named such as “Tomb Stone”. We made sure to avoid that one!
The Rapids, while more spaced out than I had pictured them being in my mind, were a great deal of fun! I had a huge smile plastered across my face during every set of rapids (as you can see by the pictures their photographer took. That’s me in the front with the go pro on my helmet) and wanted to go back for more when we finished! All of the guides were friendly and very knowledgeable. Sean (our guide) was fantastic. Not only did he tell us all about the portion of the river we were riding, the surrounding ecosystem and animals but even told us about the pop culture references and crazy stories such as the different movies the Rio Grande and it’s bridge were in. As well as how each set of rapids got their name, such as that time a pair of fighter pilots from a local air force base decided to fly some illegal stunts down inside the gorge, when one pulled up into a set of unseen power lines, instantly disintegrating the plane. The rapids under that location where hereafter named “The Power Lines”. While there were some crazy and maybe not so pleasant, stories about each part of the canyon and river, it was great to hear all about it!
The trip left me hungry for more. I asked about another portion of the river called the “Razorblades” which is full of class V rapids, but unfortunately there isn’t enough water running through there right now for commercial trips to make the run. Otherwise, I would have done that next weekend! From now on, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for white water rafting trips wherever my travels lead me. I would highly recommend New Mexico River Adventures if you’re looking for a great white water experience in New Mexico. They offer both rafting and kayaking trips for various different skill levels.
Keep an eye out for my first video blog post about the trip or “Vlog” in a couple days!