The Lower Gorge of the Rio Grande south of Taos is a family rafting favorite in northern New Mexico. 

From the meeting location, you'll shuttle upstream to the launch point in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area.  The morning is spent rafting down the Rio Grande through the volcanic canyon, with just a couple of easy rapids.  The river mellows as you pass through Pilar, where the group will observe a quiet zone to minimize impact on this small historic New Mexican community.  At noon, the guides provide a delicious riverside lunch, including an array of hand-roasted sandwich meats and homemade salads and salsas.

In the afternoon, the river plunges into the Racecourse, a section of intense whitewater, with Class II-III+ rapids (depending on water level) named:  Albert's Falls, Herringbone, Narrows, Big Rock and Sousehole.  At "Sousehole," photographers will capture a splashy descent.  The take out is at County Line Recreation Area and will be returned to your car by 3:00-4:00 pm.

Taos is located about 130 miles from Albuquerque.

Rates - including tax

Type Rate
Adult Rate
(Ages 12+):
Child Rate
(Ages 6-11):

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Tour / Activity Details

6.75 to 7.75 hours
8:15 am daily (April 1 through October 1)

48 Hours Minimum Advance Booking Required.  Minimum age is 6.  This tour does not include hotel pick-up; the meeting location will be detailed on your E-Ticiket.  Please order online or call us at 212-852-4822 to order or for more information.

There is a $6.95 USD processing fee per order. This is a flat fee regardless of the number of tickets or tours purchased on an order. There is a service charge per ticket. This charge will be reflected on your summary before you checkout. The total shown at checkout includes any fuel surcharges, service charges and tax. There are no additional charges, unless otherwise specified.

Tour / Activity Policies

Cancellation Policy: There are no refunds. All sales are final.

Change Fee Policy: If changes are allowed on a tour or activity, a $20.00 per reservation change fee will be applied for any change to a reservation. Please note that some tours and activities do not allow any changes. Date changes can only be made only if we can confirm availability on the new date. While we cannot guarantee any changes can be made, all change requests must be submitted a minimum of 24 hours prior to the tour departure and must be handled on an individual basis through our Reservations Center.

Tour / Activity Description

More Tour Details

First-time rafters 6 years of age and older are welcome on this trip.  You should be in normal good health.  This trip is generally suitable for families, a moderate whitewater alternative to the more challenging sections of the Rio Grande Gorge.  It is a good section to observe the wildlife and scenery of the southern Rockies.

Guides will do the navigating in paddle rafts, or at higher water, oar-powered rafts may be requested.

Please specify at the time of booking about any food allergies or restrictions.


What to Bring/Wear

You will be on the water and you should plan on getting wet and be prepared for changing weather conditions! Please bring dry clothes to change into after your trip.

  • Quick-dry shorts - Synthetics are quick drying fabric options. Jeans are not appropriate river wear
  • T-shirt - Can also double as a sunscreen
  • Bathing suit - Appropriate, but optional
  • Footwear - TEVA type sandals are the best, tennis shoes are fine, NO flip flops
  • Cap or hat - We suggest a restraining strap in order to secure it to you
  • Sunglasses - It's best to have some kind of retainer for them if you want to keep them!
  • Sunscreen - Be safe - If you're not accustomed to being on the water or in the sun at higher elevations, it's a good idea. However you won't want to apply it to your forehead, as you don't want it getting in your eyes.
  • Water bottle - Feel free to bring one along, however a lunch with beverage is offered mid trip.


For Trips in April, May & September

  • Sweater - Wool dries faster than cotton
  • Fleece top or pants - Quick drying
  • Wool socks - In the early season you may want to wear sneakers with wool socks


Waiver Required

Before going on any river trip, each guest must read, understand and sign a Liability Waiver. Parents or legal guardians must sign for any minor children.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need experience? -- Almost all of the river trips offered on this website can be done by people with no experience at all. Being comfortable around water is good. You may need to be able to paddle in the rapids and to jump around in case of highside situations. Falling in and swimming is always possible.

Am I going to get wet? -- Yes you are going to get wet! The bigger the whitewater, the higher the river, the wetter you get. With the biggest rapids, especially at high water, you will get drenched. On the mildest trips at least your feet will get wet. Your guides will provide raingear and wetsuits as necessary.

What does your outfitter provide? -- They provide all the rafting equipment that is necessary for your river trip. Meals are generally taken care of by the guides. On the full-day trips, there's a deli-style, build-it-yourself lunch.

What if I forget to bring something I need? -- You might be able to buy what you need at the check-in point - you can buy boating accessories, eyewear retainers or sunglasses. If you're hungry before or after the rafting trip, the facility offers burritos, sandwiches, fresh baked goods, snacks and drinks.

Is rafting safe? -- Whitewater rafting is an outdoor adventure sport with an element of inherent risk, and it is possible to be injured. Is it dangerous? No, but no reputable outfitter should tell you it is absolutely safe. The uncontrolled and sometimes unpredictable elements of a naturally flowing river are part of the thrill of whitewater rafting. The water levels and difficulty of the rapids are factors but, statistically, you are much more likely to be injured playing basketball or skiing. An experienced outfitter familiar with the varying conditions likely to be encountered can greatly minimize the risks involved. The use of alcohol or illegal drugs before or during a trip is both illegal and forbidden. Anyone under the influence will be removed from a trip without refund.

What preparations have been made for safety? -- Your guides are thoroughly equipped and prepared to minimize the risks. They use quality manufactured self-bailing river rafts. Your river guides are all experienced professionals; guide qualifications include wilderness first aid, CPR and Swiftwater Rescue training.  They will provide a safety briefing before putting the rafts in the water.

What is your Cancellation Policy? -- All sales are final - no refunds. Trips are not canceled on account of weather, except in the most extraordinary conditions. If for some reason the guides cancel a trip, a refund in full is provided. Trip insurance is strongly recommended.

How do I get back to my car? -- Your guides will provide transportation from the end of the river trip back to your vehicle.

Can I bring my camera to take photos? -- Your guides suggest not trying to take photographs during the raft trip. Not only is it difficult to accomplish, but whitewater rafting means there's a lot of water splashing about. Water and cameras don't mix very well! If you still want to try taking your own photographs, they recommend bringing a disposable/waterproof camera. Waterproof storage can be provided, but it is no guarantee against getting a camera wet. The outfitter can offer an alternative. A professional photography company they work with will shoot you in the rapids and you may order pictures from them online at your convenience.

How many people fit in a raft? -- Seven guests plus one guide are normally the most guests in a raft.

Do I need to know how to swim? -- No. Your PDF (personal flotation device, or life jacket) is US Coast Guard approved and is designed to keep you afloat should you find yourself out of the raft. A pre-trip safety orientation is presented before all trips. This orientation covers most situations you might encounter during your trip. Swimming ability is recommended, however.

Is tipping expected? -- Tips are accepted and appreciated, but not expected or required. The guides are adequately compensated, but the difference between a good river trip and a great river trip is frequently the guide. If you are inclined to tip, a good reference is how you would tip in a restaurant.

What if I have special medical or physical requirements? -- Your guides frequently accommodate individual dietary requirements and are easily able to refrigerate special medications for guests on these trips. As for physical limitations, they have taken people with sight handicaps, paraplegics, severe arthritis, missing limbs and many other lesser handicaps. You will be provided a phone number on your E-Ticket to call to discuss specifics. With careful planning and the critical assistance of friends and/or relatives, the guides have been able to introduce guests with difficult physical challenges to the beauty of these river canyons.

What about toilet facilities? -- You'll be out in the wild, so there are no indoor facilities. For "number one," no special arrangements are made - just "ladies upstream by the pink bush" and "gentlemen downstream by the blue bush." Right by or into the river is environmentally accepted and even recommended. For solid waste on day trips, we bring a small shovel and go a couple of hundred feet up from the river to dig an 8-10 inch hole. Your guide will issue small plastic bags for depositing toilet paper. The guides don't leave any paper; even buried, because animals may dig it up and leave an unsightly reminder of the group's passage for the next visitors.


River Rapid Class Rating System:

Class I -- Easy - Water with riffles and small waves and few obstructions that are easily missed.

Class II -- Novice - Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels. Some maneuvering required. Rocks and medium waves are easily missed.

Class III -- Intermediate - Rapids with moderate, irregular waves that are difficult to avoid with tight passages, strong eddies and currents.

Class IV -- Advanced - Intense, predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling, with some unavoidable waves and tight passages.

Class V -- Expert - Extremely long or very violent rapids. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and tight chutes with complex routes.


48 Hours Minimum Advance Booking Required.  Minimum age is 6.  This tour does not include hotel pick-up; the meeting location will be detailed on your E-Ticiket.  Please order online or call us at 212-852-4822 to order or for more information.

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