Rafting adventure through the Rio Chama Wilderness 3-Day
This 3 day rafting vacation floats 30 miles through canyons of vividly colored sandstone and forests of tall conifers (Class 2 and 3/Easy to Moderate). Minimum age is 8. Minimum 6 persons. We provide camping gear, seven robust meals, raingear and all necessary rafting equipment. BYOB.
Rate: $ 399.95
2013 dates: May 31 - June 2; July 19 - 21; August 16 - 18. Other dates may be available, please inquire.
Chama River Canyon Wilderness stretch. The Rio Chama rises in the southern San Juan mountain range of southern Colorado, in the South San Juan Wilderness Area, just north of the New Mexico State line. It enters New Mexico near the mountain town of Chama, known as the western terminus of the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge tourist railway. It is the largest tributary of the Rio Grande in New Mexico.
Below the town of Chama the Rio Chama receives water from the adjacent Heron Dam and lake, This dam was created to store water that is diverted from a tributary of the San Juan River in southern Colorado, and delivered under the Continental Divide via a tunnel to the lake. It is called the San Juan-Chama project. Shortly downstream of where the project water enters the Rio Chama River the river is impounded by El Vado Dam. There is no outfitter-served Chama Rafting above El Vado Dam. Below the dam the river enters a wilderness gorge, which is designated by the US Congress both as a National Wild and Scenic River and the Chama River Canyon Wilderness Area.
The best of Rio Chama Rafting is the Chama Canyon Wilderness trip starting at the Cooper Ranch, located on NM 112, just downstream of El Vado Dam. The raft trip through the 31 mile Chama Canyon is done in two or three days. New Wave Rafting prefers three days, to allow plenty of time to appreciate the great beauty of the Chama Canyon. The whitewater on the Rio Chama is generally mild, Class 2 (“easy”). The scenery, however, is spectacular. Large colorful sandstone cliffs tower above the river, while forests of tall pines and firs line the banks. The horizontally-striped cliffs, in shades of red, white and yellow, are seen in the paintings of the world-renown artist Georgia O'Keefe, who lived not far downstream from the Canyon in the town of Abiquiu.
A short hike up a side-canyon reveals dinosaur tracks in the sandstone bed of a dry wash and trout can be caught in the river. Hot springs and interesting ruins are also encountered. The wilderness section ends where the river passes the Christ in the Desert Monastery. The Monastery is located at the end of Forest Road 151, which comes into the Canyon from the south, and follows the river upstream for 9 miles. Here, where the river canyon widens, the forest of coniferous trees yields to groves of large cottonwood trees. The canyon walls are more set back from the river, but remain unbroken to the end of the trip and the whitewater increases somewhat in difficulty, to Class 3- (on the easy side of moderate).
The trip ends at the “Big Eddy” take-out, just upstream of the furthest upstream reach of another impoundment, Abiquiu Lake. Forest Road 151 returns you to US 84, in the vicinity of the scenic Echo Amphitheater and the Ghost Ranch Conference Center, both north of the town of Abiquiu.
The portion of the river downstream from the Christ in the Desert Monastery can also be done as a full-day trip, by special request.
The Rio Chama is jointly-administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. Access to the Chama Canyon Wilderness is limited. Water supply in the Rio Chama is regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
We meet at Bode's General Store, on Hwy 84, in Abiquiu (you can't miss it) at 9 AM of Day 1 (Friday) and return you there in mid-afternoon of Day 3 (Sunday). Don't leave valuables in your car. It's better to take them with you on the river (wallet, car keys, 00 bills etc.) Driving time to Abiquiu ifrom Santa Fe is about an hour. We will provide you with a list of what to bring prior to the trip
For more information, call us today at 1 (800) 984-1444.
Watch Racecourse Video »
Weather & River Flows »
Download Liability Release »
Make an Inquiry