DIFFICULTY LEVEL: BEGINNER
Río Chama. Most New Mexico rivers are unpredictable, prone to swinging big in the spring with snowmelt and shrinking to summer trickles that would best float a rubber ducky. But this dam-controlled river through the Chama River Canyon Wilderness has guaranteed floatable water levels every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning in mid-July. Day trips launch from Chavez Canyon. A 31-mile overnight trip is also available with a lottery-issued permit.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE
Río Grande Lower Gorge. This mellow float runs through the Orilla Verde Recreation Area and its verdant riverbanks, before hitting a string of just-exciting-enough rapids known as the Racecourse that runs along the highway. Link Orilla Verde and the Racecourse for a 15-mile day, launching from the Taos Junction Bridge and taking out at Taos County Line’s boat ramps.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EXPERT
Río Grande Middle Box. With excellent fishing and beautiful scenery amid the 800-foot-tall black basalt walls of the Río Grande Gorge, the Middle Box features fun Class III rapids. This reach of river was one of the first eight officially designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, a federally protected status that recognizes rivers with outstanding wilderness qualities or recreational opportunities. Boaters often launch from Little Arsenic Trail in the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, near Questa.