Feel the Whitewater’s Rush

FEEL THE WHITEWATER’S RUSH

Byline: SUSAN LAHEY

Whitewater rafting is cool.

There’s just something about riding the current, learning to shift your body weight, to calculate the smoothest passage and how to reach it; to accept being tossed and lifted with the changing personality of a river that’s gone on like this for thousands of years.

Whitewater rafting is always cool but rafting on the Rio Grande — one of the loveliest and most enduring symbols of the West, is a whole lot cooler. This is where the bald eagles come to spend the winter. This is the water that carved the gorge.

The Rio Grande has spawned several river outfitters, especially in Taos. They offer half-day trips to multiday trips. Most of the rafting on the Rio Grande takes place between Questa north of Taos and Pilar to the south.

This stretch is divided into the Middle Box, the Taos Box and the Lower Gorge. The Middle Box and the Taos Box tend to be full-day trips with lots of rapids: 20 sets of rapids on the Taos Box.

The Lower Gorge is divided into half-day trips and is friendlier for families. This area has fewer harrowing whitewater sections and longer stretches of peaceful floating.

Rafting companies also offer combination trips with rafting and biking or camping. And they put their own spin on it.

Native Sons Adventures promises a gourmet lunch on the beach at Rattlesnake Wash along with its Taos Box Tour. Call (800) 753-7559.

Los Rios River Runners has a Native Cultures Feast and Float with a Native American guide who shares Pueblo history and lore, and a traditional feast prepared and served by a Pueblo Indian family that includes red chile stew, green chile stew, posole, calabacitas, oven bread or fry bread, and Indian tea. The company can also arrange for a pottery demonstration or dancing. Call (800) 544-1181 or e-mail whitewater@newmex.com.

Far Flung Adventures offers Paddle and Saddle for people who want to combine riding the waves with riding the range; and Rock and Raft for those who want to add some vertical rock climbing and rappelling to the horizontal art of rafting. Call (800) 359-2627 or e-mail farflung@taosnet.com

Known World Guides, as others, offers a Pedal and Paddle combo of biking and rafting. Call (800) 983-7756 or www.knownworldguides.com.

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