Rio Chama River - 1600 CFS - 05/2022

The Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. It flows through a multi-colored sandstone canyon which is, at times, 1,500 feet deep and through a wilderness and wilderness study area. Towering cliffs, heavily wooded side canyons and historical sites offer an outstanding wild river backdrop for the hiker, fisherman, or boater. As with all my other Chama trips, stayed and launched from the El Vado Ranch.

For the 300th year in a row, did not draw a permit during the lottery. So snagged a Tuesday week-day launch on Had practiced the required steps and with the keyboard/mouse warmed up, managed to grab a launch 15 seconds after the site opened. Within 3-4 minutes, all available slots had been taken and the season was booked. Was lucky in not only that I reserved one but that there was water flowing when we launched. There is no guarantee that will be the case for a week-day launch. The BLM allows for 1 launch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 2 for Sundays and Mondays. Recreation releases from El Vado Dam typically start early Friday morning and shut off on Sunday evening.

This was my 8th Rio Chama trip and for whatever reason, the float through the wilderness section was the most scenic yet. It was stunning and felt like I was seeing it for the first time. There were 6 boaters and 5 boats. Everyone wants to be a captain. All of us from the Phoenix locale. Mark Foster took most of the slideshow photos as I forgot my camera. The only carnage was Foster taking a swim at Aragon Rapid in his IK. Thanks Mike for hauling my gear. Good to have Dr. Dave, Bryce, and Mark J along for company. It was another excellent river trip but too short for the distances involved.

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Trip report image
USGS flow link image