Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, New Mexico
The Rio Grande flows out of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in Colorado and journeys 1,900 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It passes through the 800-foot chasms of the Rio Grande Gorge, a wild and remote area of northern New Mexico.
The Rio Grande and Red River designation was among the original eight rivers designated by Congress as wild and scenic in 1968. In 1994, the designation was extended by legislation to include an additional 12.5 miles of the Rio Grande. The designated area includes 56 miles of the Rio Grande from the Colorado/New Mexico state line to just beyond BLM's County Line Recreation Site and the lower 4 miles of the Red River.
This area has attracted human activity since prehistoric times. Evidence of ancient use is found throughout the area in the form of petroglyphs, prehistoric dwelling sites and other types of archaeological sites.The river gorge is home to numerous species of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, river otters and the Río Grande cutthroat trout.
Two developed recreation areas are located along the river—Wild Rivers on the north and Orilla Verde in the south. In addition to these scenic recreation areas, visitors can enjoy a spectacular vista of the gorge from the High Bridge Overlook where Highway 64 crosses the river. Recreation opportunities include biking, camping, fishing, hiking/backpacking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding and whitewater boating.
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides three levels of river classification: wild, scenic, and recreational.
Wild rivers are free of dams, generally inaccessible except by trail, and represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic rivers are free of dams, with shorelines or watersheds that are still largely primitive and shorelines that are largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational rivers are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have been dammed in the past.