What’s the best thing to do on a hot, dry New Mexico afternoon? River rafting, of course!
There are probably a half dozen companies running raft trips out of either Taos or Santa Fe, with a variety of choices: Morning trip? Afternoon trip? All day? Two day? Mild or wild? Once you choose the trip, there’s no real difference between the companies… on any given route, they all put in and take out at the same spots. Prices are pretty much the same, too.
We chose Far Flung Adventure’s Race Course trip – half day, "wild," and leaving at a time that fit our schedule. We were added to a larger church group from Texas, back for their third year with Far Flung, which we took as a testimonial of sorts.
Put on a life vest, grab a paddle and head to your raft. Each inflatable rubber raft holds six or eight passengers plus a guide; you sit on the outside tube with your feet inside and follow the guide’s directions. After a short instruction session in flat water ("Paddle FORWARD! Goooood. Paddle BACKWARD! Goooood. Now right side FORWARD! Gooooood." And so on.) we were out into the current.
Race Course runs though Class 2 and 3 rapids. None are truly threatening, although the guides do their best to crank up everyone’s adrenaline by telling how gnarly and exciting it all is. What makes it exciting is being in the raft, low and close to the water. People in the front occasionally took some good water and the guide is able to make sure one side or the other takes the brunt of the splashing if they wish. On calmer stretches, you can slip off the raft and swim or just float alongside.
Water levels have a lot to do with how exciting the ride is and how long it takes. Early in the season the trip is faster and the rapids are rougher. As summer wears on the ride gets lazier and some rapids turn to shallow riffles.
Be sure to bring clothes – and shoes! - you don’t mind getting wet.
Price: $47.50, departs from Pilar Café, 20 minutes south of Taos. Half day trip takes about 2 1/2 hours; cold drinks and snacks provided at end of raft ride