New Mexico June 25, 2017
11 Rivers In New Mexico That Are So Much More Than Just A Body Of Water
Everybody knows that water is vital to sustain life but, in New Mexico, water is something that we never take for granted. We’ve experienced its scarcity and that makes us appreciative of every drop. Although the Land of Enchantment has the least amount of surface water of all the states, we still have some beautiful rivers. Here are 11 of them:
1. Rio Grande
One of the most significant rivers in the Southwest, the 1,896-mile long Rio Grande runs all the way through New Mexico and forms part of our nation’s border. It starts in Colorado, eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is popular with whitewater rafters (especially in the section near Taos), kayakers, and anyone who enjoys a peaceful view.
A tributary of the mighty Colorado River, the Gila River spans 646 miles and travels through some of the most remote areas of the state. This rare body of water is the only wild (a.k.a undammed) river in New Mexico. It’s a magnet for wildlife and consequently for birders.
The Pecos River starts in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and, for the first few of its 926 miles, this is a National Wild and Scenic River - the Pecos is beloved by fishing fans. As it passes through Carlsbad (pictured above), recreational opportunities abound. Hit the man-made beach, take a boat cruise down the river, or rent a pedal boat!
4. Rio Chama
The headwaters for the 130-mile Rio Chama are located in Colorado. However, this tributary of the Rio Grande flows through some of New Mexico’s prettiest landscapes – it’s a photographer’s dream. Definitely visit the section near Abiquiu.
5. Black River
The Black River passes near Carlsbad and the Texas border. This river that, in places, is more of a stream linking pools together is both scenic and undiscovered. Head to the Black River Recreation Area to admire it for yourself.
6. Rio Pueblo de Taos
The headwaters for this river are high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, close to Wheeler Peak - our state’s tallest mountain. Although short (at roughly 33 miles long) Rio Pueblo flows right through Taos Pueblo, providing a vital water source for this UNESCO World Heritage Site and also contributing to the Pueblo’s enduring beauty.
7. Animas River
Although many associate the Animas River with towns like Durango in Colorado, it actually unites with the San Juan River in the New Mexican city of Farmington. A charming walking trail runs alongside the Animas there, providing a spot for families to enjoy the great outdoors together (dogs are welcome).
8. Jemez River
This 50-mile long river joins the Rio Grande. If you drive along NM-4, you can stop at various points along the way and even see where the scenic river flows through Soda Dam (pictured).
9. Mimbres River
The 91-mile long Mimbres River is fed by snow from the Black Range. If you’re in the Silver City area, check out the tranquil Mimbres River Preserve, a serene spot in New Mexico.
10. Rio Brazos
Formed from two streams, the Rio Brazos feeds into Rio Chama. It travels through one of our state’s biggest canyons, the Brazos Box, before tumbling 2400 feet down as Brazos Falls. The river is best admired in spring, when the water flow is greatest.
11. Santa Fe River
Charming but by no means big, this river cuts through Santa Fe. A path and narrow park line its banks, making this a popular spot for strolling. The 46-mile long river is a tributary for the Rio Grande.
Do you have a favorite New Mexico river or are you equally grateful for them all?
You may be interested in our past article:
“12 Gorgeous Lakes In New Mexico You Must Check Out This Summer.”