hiking in the rio grande del norte national monument

You are invited to explore el Río Grande del Norte National Monument.
The 310,528-acre monument—the majority of which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—encompasses some of the most spectacular lands in all of the country, offering a wide range of outstanding recreational opportunities.

The monument is roughly bounded by the Gorge on the east and US Highway 285 on the west. The northern portion spills over US Highway 285, encompassing the broad, gently-rolling grass and sagebrush plains of the Río San Antonio Wilderness Study Area (WSA), bisected by yet another gorge where raptors nest in 200-foot-high lava walls and conifers clamber down to the trout-filled waters of the Río de los Pinos.
Perhaps the crown jewel of this whole area is Ute Mountain, a 10,093-foot-high volcanic cone rising
nearly 3,000 feet above the surrounding plain. The steep slopes of Ute are covered in piñon at the base as well as pockets of ponderosa, aspen, white pine and Douglas fir in the higher elevations.
From grassy meadows of blue grama, western wheatgrass and Indian ricegrass where the trees thin on the slopes of Ute, the Gorge is a jagged slash dividing the volcano from its sister cones to the west. Snow-capped Mount Blanca rises to the north, just across the state line.
The whole Sangre de Cristo range rises to the east, peaking at Wheeler, the highest mountain in the state and Pueblo Peak, the sacred mountain of the original inhabitants of the region.

This complex landscape and the monument’s unique position along the great rift and between two mountain ranges lend it a wealth of recreational opportunities from top to bottom. The Gorge also hosts some of New Mexico’s top fishing waters as well as numerous hiking trails and mountain biking trails along the rim and into some of the more remote areas of the monument, particularly on the western plateau.

You are encouraged to find your memories in the wildlands of northern New Mexico.


Hiking Trails

Orilla Verde Trails

Orilla Verde Recreation Area, nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande, offers visitors a wide variety of recreational opportunities. All facilities are located along the Rio Grande within the steep-walled Rio Grande Gorge.

FEE: None

DIRECTIONS: South of Pilar via NM 570 at Pilar

West Rim Trail North end located at rest area, west of the Rio Grande Gorge “High Bridge” on US 64
South end located on Hwy 567 on west mesa top above Taos Junction Bridge
9 miles each way Easy to moderate
La Vista Verde Trail Located on Hwy 567, 0.5 miles above Taos Junction Bridge 1.25 miles each way Easy
Petaca Point Trail Located on Hwy 567 on mesa top above Taos Junction Bridge 4 miles each way Easy to moderate
Taos Valley Overlook Located on NM 68 between mile markers 35 & 36 south of Taos. System of 6 interconnecting trails Up to 20 miles of interconnecting trails Easy to moderate
The Slide(old 570) Located from end of county road 110 leading to Taos Junction Bridge 1.3 miles each way Moderate
Picuris Trail Located east of Taos Junction Bridge 0.8 miles each way Difficult
Las Minas Trail Located on Hwy 68. at Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center 0.5 miles each way Easy
La Senda del Media Trail Begins at Pilar campground follows east side of Rio Grande and links Pilar, Rio Bravo, Arroyo Hondo, Lone Juniper and Petaca Campgrounds 2.5 miles each way Easy to moderate

Wild River Trails

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is located within the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River and Red River Wild and Scenic River.

FEE: $3.00/day per vehicle to use the area for 30 minutes or more. An annual day use pass, good for the calendar year, is available for $20.00. Camping: $7.00/night for one vehicle, $10.00 for two. Maximum 2 vehicles and 8 people per site. (Additional vehicles

DIRECTIONS: The Visitor Center is located in Cerro, NM, at 1120 Cerro Road.

La Junta Trail Access to confluence of Red River and Rio Grande 1.2 miles each way Difficult
Big Arsenic Springs Trail Excellent first time hike, Petroglyphs nearby 1 mile each way Moderate
Little Arsenic Trail Access to confluence of Red River and Rio Grande 1 mile each way Moderate  
River Trail Relatively level along Rio Grande, connects 3 Rio Grande trails 2.5 miles each way Moderate  
Red River Fault Trail Fairly level trail. Cycle or hike back country loop 5.2 mile loop Moderate
El Aguaje Trail  Access to Red River 0.7 miles each way Moderate
Pescado Trail  Access to Red River Fish Hatchery 1.7 miles each way Moderate  
Chiflo Access to Rio Grande .4 miles each way Easy
Guadalupe Mountain Trail Great view of Taos volcanic plateau and Rio Grande Gorge 2.1 miles each way Difficult
Rinconada Loop Trail Cycle or walk along rim from any campground 6.1 miles each way Easy  
East Rim Trail Two-track follows gorge rim north of Wild Rivers 3.5 miles each way Easy
Las Vistas de Questa Trail Elevation change 300 to 500ft 6.9 miles each way Easy
Punto de Coyote Loop Trail Two overlooks. Elevation change 500ft 3.7 miles each way Moderate

Taos Valley Overlook Trails

The Taos Valley Overlook Trails consist of several single track loops, and some two track trails totaling about 16 miles of intermediate level of difficulty.

FEE: None

DIRECTIONS: Travel 6 miles south of Ranchos de Taos on NM 68 until the end of CR 110.

Traders Trail 1.8 miles return Easy
Klauer Trail 2.7 miles return Easy – Short, steep
The Slide (old 570) 1.3 miles return Easy – except rock slides
Picuris Trail 1.4 miles return Primitive – steep and rough
Anthony S.Armijo Trail 1.8 miles return Easy – some steep
Rift Valley Trail 10.5 miles return Moderate
La Gijosa 1.3 miles return Easy  
La Vista Verde Trail 1.3 miles return Easy
Escarpment Trail 0.3 miles return Easy
Sediment Trail 1.1 miles return Easy  


Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Discover the Rio Grande del Norte public lands proclaimed as a national monument on March, 25 2013 by President Barack Obama.

The High Road between Taos and Santa Fe

This alternate route between Taos and Santa Fe offers awe-inspiring scenery and remote villages.

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