New Mexico’s premier whitewater run is 17 miles through the Rio Grande Gorge, a black basalt chasm with stunning cliffs, plentiful bird life and big horn sheep, which we saw all of those. This section, known as-the Taos Box, boasts class III-IV rapids with steep drops and wave walloping fun.
Far Flung Adventures has been running the box since 1974. The staff is seriously committed – serious about safety and committed to fun. We rolled in on our Comos at 7:30am as the guides were finishing up their morning granola in their Earthship office. Christine greeted us like we were long lost family – picking out wetsuits and splash gear, parking our bikes, chatting us up about what we’ve been doing this summer.
Excitement was in the air because the Rio Grande was running at 3400 cubic feet per second. Since the river is not damn release, the quality of the ride depends on how much water mother nature decides to send down. In 2018, they had not been able to run the Taos Box once – not once. 2019 was looking epic, and everyone, including the guides, were stoked to enjoy the raging rapids ahead.
Old school buses never die, they just become river rafter haulers. This one faithfully snaked down the switchbacks of the steep canyon walls until we reached the roaring Rio Grande. Our guide, Andrea had the typical guide background – parents from Czechoslovakia, grew up in Sweden, somehow found herself in Virginia, and then the Taos vortex grabbed her and she made roots. She said she had trouble sleeping the night before thinking about how big the river was. Us too. And awesome, experienced Christine, who lectured on everything from the importance of listening to her loud-mouthed voice to what do if you fall out of the boat.
The Taos Box is action packed with the action starting off with 2’s and 3’s which help you build team work before dropping into the steepest and narrowest part of the canyon and ending with 4’s and 4+’s. Fortunately, the day was warmish, because the river was cold and we got soaked in the big drops. A wild wind rushed up river through the canyon when the walls got narrow. Thank goodness we were all wearing in puffy splash suits!
We wish we had pictures of the adventure, but there’s no way to take them AND paddle for your life. We were going to buy a pic for the blog, but a digital download costs $15 and takes 14 days to receive. You can view the proofs at raftphotos.com if you’re really interested (Find your photos > whitewater rafting> 2019> June > 6-9-19 Sunday > Taos box > Far Flung Adventures > look for the red boat water shots. Eric is lead on the left.
Before hypothermia had a chance to set in, we reached the pull-out beach. Normally, we would have stopped for lunch halfway through, but the high river had left all the mid-box resting areas under water. That made the lunch even better as we loaded the boats for the trip back. Thomas the bus chugged out of the canyon with a foot of clearance on the railingless switchbacks. If you find yourself in Taos and the Rio is high, definitely spend the day with Christine and Andrea. They are five stars all the way!