Lower Gorge Full Day Whitewater Rafting Trip near Taos

Lower Gorge Full Day Whitewater Rafting Trip near Taos

Brave the rapids for a full day adventure of whitewater rafting down the lower gorge of the Rio Grande near Taos.

This twelve-mile run of the Rio Grande begins at the Taos Junction Bridge within the steep canyon walls of an ancient lava flow. As you ply the relatively calm waters of the Rio Bravo portion of the river through willow and tamarisk there are prime opportunities to see riparian habitat.

In between Class II rapids you'll find calm stretches perfect for swimming. The trip arrives at the village of Pilar, a small historic river community where you'll observe a quiet zone to minimize the impact of your passage.

After having a delicious riverside lunch and a cool beverage, your afternoon livens up as you enter the Class II & III rapids of the Pilar Racecourse. Then your incredible trip finishes at the Taos-Rio Arriba County Line.

Taos is located about 130 miles from Albuquerque.

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  • Cancellation Policy
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Tour/Activity Details


8 Hours


8:30 am daily (Mid April through September)

This tour does not include hotel pick-up. Please order online or call to order or for more information.



  • The river trip begins within the Rio Grande Gorge. The ancient lava flow through which you'll float is scenic and accessible.
  • An interesting side canyon walk is scheduled at Petaca Canyon
  • A watercourse rises on the flanks of San Antonio Mountain
  • This trip's midpoint is the village of Pilar where you will observe a quiet zone to minimize the impact of passage through this historic small New Mexican community
  • Below the village, there's a section of intense whitewater with rapids named Albert's Falls, Herringbone, Narrows, Big Rock and Sousehole

What to Bring:

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 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. The class IV and class IV+ trips are definitely for the more adventurous and more athletic. Being comfortable around water is good. You have 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. For half-day trips, a small snack is served; on the full-day trips, there's a deli-style, build-it-yourself lunch. For overnight tours, breakfasts and dinners are included - and guides provide all the necessary kitchen items and do all the food preparation. On multi-day trips, full service is provided, including all that is necessary except personal items and your sleeping bag and sleeping pad (if you don't have them, they can be arranged for ahead of time for $10 a night). The outfitter provides tents and the full kitchen, hearty food and guides do all food preparation. Everything is taken care of. The staff has mastered the art of gracious outdoor camping!

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.

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.

What do I wear? -- You will be sent a gear check list with your confirmation. What you wear will differ depending on the time of year you raft and on the level of the river. Generally, the higher the river the wetter the ride. Passengers should wear clothes to keep you warm when wet. These will be clothes made out of polypropylene, pile, fleece, capalene and wool. These synthetic materials have the property to keep you warm when they are wet. Cotton is to be avoided! No bluejeans! When cotton gets wet, it wicks the heat away from you and will not re-warm like the synthetic materials specified. Any extra warm cloths you want to bring can be stored in dry bags the guides will provide. Spring and early summer will be cold and wet. Most likely, wet suites will be provided and splash gear as deemed necessary. Half-day trip participants will be issued splash gear while full-day and multi-day trips get farmer John wetsuits, splash tops and wet-suit booties. Early to late summer, the temperature soars and the sun is hot. The day calls for shorts, t-shirts, sunscreen (very important), hat and sunglasses (with retainer so you don't lose them). Fairer skinned people may want even more sun protection. Rain gear is provided for the occasional summer shower.

How do I get back to my car? -- Your guides will provide transportation to and from 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, we 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 is the food like? -- The guides strive to provide fresh, nutritious, healthy, tasty and freshly prepared food. They do all the food preparation and are famous for their riverside meals. The table is set for all different appetites and dietary concerns. If you do have special dietary concerns such as allergies, or you are a vegetarian, just let us know when you make your reservation and the guides will pack accordingly. Lunch on one-day trips and on the first day of multi-day trips is a deli style spread with a variety of thin sliced meats and cheeses with all the garnishes. A freshly prepared pasta or potato salad is on the side depending on season, group size and what quality ingredients are available. If you can finish all that, then the guides break out the cookies for dessert! For dinner on multi-day trips, the guides often have something fresh off the grill. If red meat is on your "no" list, they can easily substitute chicken or fish. A fresh salad with delicious fresh cooked potatoes, of as many different styles as there are guides, go on the side with the vegetable of the season. Last but not least, no dinner would be complete without a fresh baked dessert - a dutch oven delight...cake or cobbler...and it's good! Coffee is available upon request. In the morning, wake up to smell hearty river coffee brewing and sizzling bacon frying. Don't drink coffee? There's also tea, hot chocolate or juice. Don't eat bacon? There's plenty more to chose from - eggs, cereal, pancakes, French toast and fresh fruit often fill out the menu. For lighter appetites, just let us know your preferences when you make your reservation. A full day on the river often calls for a hearty breakfast. On the longer trips, the same standards apply, but add more variety. Barbecued chicken, enchiladas, lasagna or grilled fish might find its way to the table. Each trip leader has favorite recipes and can accommodate all but the pickiest of eaters. There are few limits to what the guides can prepare on the river, given the time to do it.

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. Please call to discuss options. There's probably a trip that will suit you! These guides are capable of delivering guests down the river with little personal participation other than holding on occasionally and making their way from boat to vehicle, boat to camp, or boat to kitchen. Unfortunately, some people cannot easily perform these simple functions that most of us take for granted. However, 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? -- We're 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. On camping trips, a compact portable toilet is available.

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.

This tour does not include hotel pick-up. Please order online or call to order or for more information.

Cancellation Policy

There are no refunds. All sales are final.

Change 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.

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<< April 2018 >>

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Rates All rates are in US Dollars

Event Date:

April 15, 2018

Desired Time:

08:30 AM