Project Description

The Lower Gorge


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  • SEASON: April 1 – September 30; The biggest whitewater rafting conditions generally occur in May and June.

  • PARTICIPANTS:  We welcome first-time rafters 6 years of age and older. You should be in normal good health. This trip is generally suitable for families and folks of all ages, a moderate whitewater alternative to the more challenging sections of the Rio Grande Gorge (such as the Taos Box). It is a good section to observe the wildlife and scenery of the southern Rockies.

  • CRAFT:  Guides will do the navigating in paddle rafts, at higher water oar-powered rafts may be requested, or you may choose to go in an inflatable kayak.

  • COST:  Adult: $105.00   Child: $90.00    50% Deposit Required

  • CANCELLATION POLICY:  Reservation cancellation more than 2 weeks before trip date receives a refund minus 10% of trip cost. Less than two weeks before trip date forfeits deposit.

The Lower Gorge area of the Rio Grande south of Taos is a family favorite in northern New Mexico. Enjoy a morning spent calmly floating the beautiful Orilla Verde Scenic Float section and then after a tasty riverside lunch head downstream into the fun and splashy class III rapids of the Racecourse section. For those who want to spice this trip up a little, choose to paddle your own inflatable kayak during the online checkout process!


Meet your guides at 8:15am at the Pilar Yacht Club and shuttle upstream to our launch point in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. Our morning is spent rafting down the Rio Grande through the volcanic canyon, with just a couple of easy rapids. The river mellows as we pass through Pilar, where we will observe a quiet zone to minimize our impact on this small historic New Mexican community. At noon we’ll provide a delicious riverside lunch, including an array of hand-roasted sandwich meats and homemade salads and salsas (see some of our recipes here).

In the afternoon, the river plunges into the Racecourse, a section of intense whitewater, with rapids named: Albert’s Falls, Herringbone, Narrows, Big Rock, and Sousehole (Class II-III +, depending on water level). At “Sousehole”, photographers will capture our splashy descent (link to Southern Exposure). We will take out at County Line Recreation Area and return you to your car by 3:00-4:00pm.

***Please let us know ahead of time about your allergies, special food, or health requirements***

Choice of paddle boat, oar raft or inflatable kayak.