Wild Rides

By Blake de Pastino

Rafting the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande provides adventurous spirits with a way to explore our beautiful state and cool off at the same time. The New Mexico rafting season begins in April and typically ends in August, which means you benefit from great weather, convenient schedules and gorgeous scenery. Most local rafting companies are based in Santa Fe, but some are located in Taos. Each company offers its own specialty: hiking opportunities, overnight trips or even kayaking. Ask the company what they recommend for your experience level. They all offer lessons in swimming, basic safety measures and paddling from certified rafting guides before you depart. Remember to bring friends, a change of clothes and your sense of adventure!

--Valerie Yarberry

Southwest Wilderness Adventures

Location: Santa Fe

Phone: (505) 983-7262 or (800) 758-7238

Hours/Seasons: Offers half- and full-day trips and overnight adventures; open April through August. Late May or early June is the best time to go.

What they provide: Meals, lifejackets (child and adult sizes), raingear, waterproof storage for extra clothing, wetsuits as desired, travel to the river

What to bring: Be sure you bring sunglasses with a safety strap and a change of clothes. Eat a good breakfast beforehand!

Price: $42/person for half-day and float trips, $68-$84 for full-day trips, $165-$265 for overnight trips, $400 for guide school, children under 12 get a 10 percent discount.

Special info: Handicapped accessible on a situational basis; safety training is given before departure; there are no height requirements. Scenery includes view of Taos Box, Whiterock Canyon, Rio Grande Gorge, Rio Chama and La Junta.

Santa Fe Rafting

Location: Santa Fe (Tour goes through Taos Canyon and Pilar Race Course)

Phone: (505) 988-4914 or (800) 467-RAFT

Hours/Seasons: Offers full- and half-day trips; opens early April, ends in August

What they provide: Snacks on half-day trips, lunch on full-day trips, wetsuits, raingear, lifejackets, travel to river

What you should bring: A change of clothes, shorts, sunglasses with strap, sunscreen, cold weather clothing (for early season trips), no valuables

Price: Half-day: $43/person, full-day: $84/person. Groups over 12 get 10 percent discount; community service groups get discounts.

Special info: Must have upper-body strength. Tour includes view of Taos canyon, guide schools are available, they will train you before departure, minimum ages are six for race course and 12 for the Box (the whitewater section of the river).

New Wave Rafting

Location: Santa Fe

Phone: (505) 984-1444 or (800) 984-1444

Hours/Seasons: Open May 1-Aug. 30, offered every day, half- and full-day trips, morning and afternoon tours available

What they provide: Lifejackets, wetsuits, booties, raingear, snacks, travel to the river

What you should bring: A change of clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses with strap, secure shoes, no valuables

Price: For Taos Box: $82/person Monday through Friday, $89/person Saturday and Sunday. For Pilar Race Course: morning rates: $41/adult, $38/child; afternoon rates: $45/adult, $42/child; full-day rates: $77/adult, $70/child

Special info: Handicapped accessible on situational basis; includes Rio Grange scenery, geologic and wildlife views; best time to go includes mid-May to late June; full instruction given before departure; no height requirements, no children under six

Far Flung Adventures

Location: Taos

Phone: (505) 758-2628 or (800) 359-2627

Hours/Seasons: Opens early April and closes in October but depends on water levels.

What they provide: Raingear, safety equipment, wetsuits, lifejackets, snacks, transportation to and from the river

What you should bring: Sunglasses, a change of clothing, cool weather clothes, secure shoes, sunscreen, no valuables

Price: Race course rates: $38/adult, $32/child. Flat water rates: $100/person (includes hike). Taos Box and half-day of the Pilar Race Course: $86/adult, $82/child.

Special info: Handicapped accessible on a situational basis, scenery includes hot springs, volcanic walls, Rio Grande Gorge. Best time to go is the end of May to the end of June. Individual and double kayak trips are available.

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