Rafting the Rio Grande can offer an adrenaline-soaked ride through rapids, or even just time to float in the sunshine.
There are several rafting companies in Santa Fe, Taos, and the surrounding areas, and while most have similar packages—plus experienced guides, life jackets, and other necessary gear—each offers slightly different perks. Most are still operating this year, but might have modified details due to the pandemic. We suggest a call to ask about COVID-specific practices or trip requirements.
Easy: The Family Float
A half-day float through the Orillo Verde recreation area along a stretch of the Rio Grande just south of Taos is perfect for families with small children, or seniors or those who prefer a more mellow ride—with the exception of some mild Class II rapids toward the end of the route. Find plenty of opportunities for swimming.
New Mexico River Adventures Orilla Verde Family Float: $56 Adult, $46 Child. Half Day. Minimum Age: 3. 1-800-983-7756
With guides schooled on history and nature in the area, the Orillo Verde float is also part of a full-day trip that includes more intense rapids in the second half. The fam could do this first part of the river together and adventurous members can continue in the afternoon. New Mexico River Adventures also offers a sunset float that ends in a gourmet meal (including freshly baked dessert) for a price of $95 per person and a minimum of six people.
New Wave Rafting Company No Wave Pilar Scenic Float: $62 Adults, $52 Child age 6 to 12, $31 Child age 4 to 5. Half Day. Minimum age: 4. 1-800-984-1444
Santa Fe Rafting Company Half-Day Rio Grande Orilla Verde: $68 per person. Half Day. No minimum age. Transportation is available to and from Santa Fe. 988-4914.
The Rio Chama is another great option if you want to relax and enjoy beautiful landscapes famously painted by Georgia O’Keeffe. Chama trips can include up to Class III rapids and options include anything from a half-day trip to a full three-day camping adventure. Trip availability depends on the schedule for the release of water from the reservoir upstream.
New Wave Rafting Company Rio Chama 1 Day River Rafting Trip: $130 Adult, $115 Child 11 and under. 800-984-1444.
New Mexico River Adventures Rio Chama 2 Day River Rafting Trip: $395 Adult. Minimum Age: 12. Meals included. Camping gear available free of charge. Guides schooled on history and nature in the area. 800-983-7756.
Santa Fe Rafting Company 3 Day Rio Chama Trip: $495 per person. Minimum Age: 5. 988-4914.
Medium: Take a Thrilling Trip Down
Rio Grande Racecourse
The Class III+ rapid-packed, winding route on the Rio Grande known as the “race course” is one of the most popular trips down the river. It’s a great option for adventure seekers, so some experience in a raft is recommended but not required.
Kokopelli Rafting Adventures Race Course Half Day: $69 Adult. $53 Child. Minimum Age: 7. 983-3743.
Big River Raft Trips Race Course Half Day: $80 per person. 800-748-3746.
New Mexico River Adventures Racecourse Half Day: $56 Adult. $46 Child. Minimum Age: 5. 800-983-7756.
Hard: Hit Some Hard Core Rapids
This rafting adventure starts with a mellow stretch of water where you can practice paddling technique on rapids that become increasingly intense. The route includes Class III, IV and V rapids, and this beautiful stretch of the steep canyon of the Rio Grande Gorge is full of wildlife. This trip is more for those who have previous rafting experience and want to take it up a level; participants should be strong swimmers and prepared to paddle hard and assist in their own rescue if they fall out or the raft flips.
New Mexico River Adventures Taos Box Rafting Full Day: $115 per person. Participants must be at least 23 years old and weigh at least 90 pounds. 800-983-7756.
Santa Fe Rafting Company Full-Day Rio Grande Taos Box: $118 per person. Minimum age: 12. 988-4914.
New Wave Rafting Company Taos Box: $122 per person. Minimum age: 12. 800-984-1444.
New Mexico River Adventures is the only adventure company in the state to offer a trip down this extreme and remote route through the remote Razorblades section of the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. The trip is only possible May through June. The minimum age is 16 and previous rafting experience is highly encouraged, though all participants will be trained in proper paddling and self-rescue techniques before the trip starts. This full day trip costs $195 per person. 800-983-7756.