The warm weather has already arrived in the high desert of New Mexico. With substantial snowpack, the butterflies in my stomach are already beginning to flutter, thinking about spring adventures. The rivers and creeks around Taos are often overlooked, especially being so close to the whitewater mecca of Colorado. If you are looking for a get away from the crowded ski hill or coming up from the flatlands Northern New Mexico is an amazing “check-off-the list” early spring paddling destination. For the paddle board adventurers there is an amazing array of outings.
SUP on the Rio Grand:
We will start on the mighty Rio Grande. There are miles and miles of the second longest river in the country to get your feet wet.
The warm up would be the Class 2 Orillia Verde section just 30 minutes south of Taos. This section offers the perfect opportunity for one’s first experience in moving water on a SUP, or to knock off the winter rust. Lots of camping with some amenities is available.
For the more seasoned paddler the Class 3 race course offers a chance to really get the adrenaline flowing. This is only recommended for the expert paddler. Hala inflatables are designed specifically for this kind of paddling. I recommend the Hala Atcha 9’6 for my weight of approximately 200lbs. The combination of stability and maneuverability is unmatched. The shuttles for both of these runs are very user friendly.
If you are at the top of the game you might want to think about the Class 4 section called the Box. Once again this is only for the pro paddler, the best of the best, and only at a limited amount of water flow rates. This is a very substantial undertaking. This section is 15 miles long with 700 foot cliffs. Rescue is very difficult and hiking out is not possible.
If you are, however, looking for the scenic beauty of the Box, the section above it is a great alternative. The Middle Box starts off with a mile hike of 700 vertical feet down into the river. It has one big Class 3 and several Class 2 rapids and this is where Hala Inflatables shine once again.
SUP in the Ojo Caliente Area:
So now that we’ve taken a couple of days beating on the Rio Grande, it’s time for an evening at Ojo Caliente. After soaking in the springs, we then head over to Abiquiu Lake. Now it’s time to pump up the Hala Nass 12’6. This is one of my favorite lakes on the planet and it’s never crowded. After the lake we are headed to the Class 2 day section of the Rio Chama. Don’t let the Class 2 fool you. It’s a very rocky and technical, but insanely beautiful, river. Attention must be paid. The upper section of this river is, in my opinion, one of the greatest overnight SUP adventures on the planet and is readily available.
By Jake Walker