Taos Rio Grande Gorge Orilla Verde

{mosimage}Orilla Verde Recreation Area is nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande, within the steep-walled Rio Grande Gorge. The local terrain is comprised of rugged, wide open mesas and chiseled steep canyons.  The elevation along the river is 6,100 feet and rises 800 feet at the gorge rim. The Taos Valley Overlook offers stunning and breathtaking views of the Rio Grande Gorge and Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the mesa top above the river.

{mosimage}Gentle waters with occasional small rapids flow through Orilla Verde, providing an ideal setting for many recreational activities. Because of the dramatic changes in elevation and the diversity of plant life, Orilla Verde draws many species of animals, including raptors (such as eagles and hawks), songbirds, waterfowl, beaver, cougar, ringtail, mule deer, and many more. The Rio Grande also has attracted humans since prehistoric times.  Evidence of ancient peoples is found throughout the recreation area in the form of petroglyphs on the rocks and many other types of archaeological sites.

The climate at Orilla Verde is semi-arid, with summer thunderstorms common in July and August, and snow possible from October through March.  Summer temperatures range from 45 to 90 degrees, and winter temperatures range from -15 to 45 degrees.

Camping / Picnicking – Orilla Verde has five campgrounds along the Rio Grande, each with tables and fire grills. The developed campgrounds have drinking water and shelters available. All campgrounds have restroom facilities. There is a 14-day stay limit. A maximum of 15 people allowed per campsite. Primitive camping is allowed only at designated sites. Maximum of two vehicles per site. Individual campsite checkout time is 2:00 p.m. Group shelter checkout time is 11:00 a.m.
Swimming – Swimming in the Rio Grande is dangerous due to swift currents and cold temperatures. Swimming is not recommended. Nudity is not allowed in the recreation area.
BoatingRio Grande Segment Descriptions
{mosimage} Gentle waters with occasional small rapids through Orilla Verde provide an ideal area for canoeing, kayaking, and non-whitewater rafting. All boaters must comply with State of New Mexico and BLM regulations for boating safety, equipment, and registration. No launching or takeout is allowed other than at designated areas. Designated sites include: Rio Bravo Campground, Arroyo Hondo Campground, Lone Juniper Site, and Taos Junction Bridge (see map). Private boaters must register at the launch site. Please observe Pilar Quiet Zone through the village of Pilar.
Fishing – Anglers along the Rio Grande will be challenged by native brown trout, German brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike. All anglers, 12 years or older, must have the following: a valid New Mexico fishing license, a Wildlife Habitat Improvement validation, and a Habitat Management and Access Validation (Only those younger than 18, 100% Disabled Resident Veterans and Resident Anglers 70 and older are exempt from purchasing this validation.) in their possession. Licenses are available at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center. To improve trout fisheries, “Special Trout Waters” have been designated north from Taos Junction Bridge to Colorado. Anglers need to be aware of special restrictions which apply in this area (New Mexico’s fishing proclamation is available at the Visitor Center).

{mosimage}Hiking La Vista Verde trail offers wonderful views up to the gorge rim and down to the Rio Grande. It is a 1.25 mile, easy one-way trail. The trailhead can be found on the north side of NM 567, midslope between the Taos Junction Bridge and the Gorge Rim. Other hiking opportunities also exist in the area. Las Minas Trail starts from the northeast parking lot of the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center. This trail is 0.5 miles one-way, moderate to overlook and difficult beyond the overlook. The West Rim Trail is an easy to moderate 9 mile one-way trail. There are two access points for the north trailhead (located at the rest stop on the west rim of the Rio Grande just off of US 64) and the south trailhead (located just off of NM 567 at the north end of Orilla Verde Recreation Area.Biking Biking is allowed on La Vista Verde trail (see above under Hiking). It is also allowed on the closed portion of NM 570, about 0.25 miles one-way. The dirt route travels up the Rio Pueblo canyon. The West Rim trail allows biking for a 9 mile one-way trip or 18 mile round trip.


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