The Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande River in northern New Mexico, flowing through the multi-colored sandstone Rio Chama Canyon which towers 1,500 feet at its tallest points. Passing through heavily wooded side canyons and providing excellent fishing for brown and rainbow trout, the Rio Chama offers an outstanding wild river setting for both paddlers and fishermen. The scenery is classic – these are the landscapes made popular by the artist Georgia O’Keefe. The warm climate and easy pace make this a perfect trip for families or beginner kayakers. Co-managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service, the Rio Chama was designated “Wild and Scenic” in 1988. The river runs consistently late April to mid June with occasional recreational flow releases July-September.
Rio Chama Canyon:
The first twenty miles of the Rio Chama pass through forested canyons where it is accessible only by foot for fly fishing, or by kayak, raft or canoe from El Vado Ranch located just below El Vado Dam. The lower part of the river also a popular destination for white water rafters and anglers. Stretching out in the warm sun of the New Mexico wilderness, the Rio Chama winds quietly through pinon pine forests and desert scenery. A unique blend of wilderness and living history, the Rio Chama flows serenely by the adobe buildings of the monastery, Church of the Desert, and then slips quietly back into its wild canyons.
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