White Rock Canyon, NM

Here is a description from a website I looked up-

“Whiterock Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful and remote, with basalt canyon walls towering over 1500 feet above the river. We float approximately 25 miles through Bandelier National Monument and the lands of San Ildefonso and Cochiti Pueblos, surrounded by unique geology dotted with numerous ancient petroglyphs and Anasazi Indian ruins. A three-day trip allows more time for soaking in Pajarito springs and exploring the Anasazi ruins - some are easily reached, while others require challenging hikes. At the end of the trip, you can choose to hike out of the canyon to the headquarters of Bandelier National Monument on one of three trails - about two and a half miles, four miles, or ten miles - or you can ride in the boat as it is towed across Cochiti Lake.
Whiterock is an excellent family trip, with several rapids providing plenty of excitement. It’s an unmatchable way to explore the wilderness and the history of this ancient region.”

This is probably an overnighter, or a really long day. I would do it in two days, with hiking, soaking, relaxing. I plan on doing it as soon as water levels and weather cooperate. I will post dates and see who wants to join.

When are you planning on going for this trip?

Soon, it will be a cold overnighter, if you look at it with Google Earth you’ll see lots of springs and a waterfall, however, not too much in the way of rapids, more of a float with minor rapids. Looks cool to explore. As soon as I figure it out I will post dates.

Look at this flow!! http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/uv/?site_no=08313000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060 it hit 2000 cfs on 2-15-08

With that flow I think it could be a day trip!

:bulb: OK I am chomping at the bit to get in the water. :stuck_out_tongue: I am sick of this cold stuff. I am thinking about doing a one day trip down White Rock Canyon Sunday, Feb 24th. This will require hiking out approx 3 miles from the river into Bandaleir Nat. Monument. I have checked the weather and it is supposed to be sunny that day, although New Mexico has crazy weather for sure. The put in is three miles south of Otowi brige off of NM SR 4. The put in is called Buckman, or Buckman Crossing, something like that. I am trying to get GPS coords and more info, but I keep running into dead ends trying to surf up beta on this little known trip. I have never done this stretch of the Rio Grande before so I have no idea what is in store. Probably some suffering of some kind due to weather, lack of beta, etc. I live for this , however. Is anyone fairly local to ABQ or Santa Fe, or Taos who has done this, or, more importantly, who may want to go? I will definately be doing it later in the year when it’s warmer, but, you know, that whole chomping thing! :stuck_out_tongue: Just throwing it out there, I’m still trying to work on the logistics of take out /put in for myself, let alone others… let me know if anyone is faintly interested.

OK I think my buddy Jason is going to join me. :smiley:

Weve decided to go to Taos instead (Pilar) and break in the season on the Racecourse. Well save Whiterock canyon for a little later in the season. We want to do an overnighter anyway. Pilar on sunday the 24th!!

OK stay tuned for a trip planning update-- the plan will be to have a shuttle bunny (perhaps my wife) to drive us to the middle of the bridge, we rappel down to the river (80 feet perhaps, not sure yet)with the inflated boats hanging from our harnesses about 10 feet below, the packs are on our backs, we off -rope into the boats and away we go, the shuttle bunny pulls the ropes and speeds off., and we continue down White Rock Canyon, then take out a Frijoles Canyon, and hike five miles pasts a nice waterfall to our car at the take out! :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: who’s in??

Got any spare rope? I’m in! Or maybe I could get away with using my throw bag? Ooops that’s about 30’ short of the 80’ you said would be necessary. Guess it’s time for me to get a longer rope.

I haven’t reconed the bridge yet… I’m hoping it is high enough to rappel just for the fun of it.

Was this ever done? I had completed this some time,i.e., years, ago I simply hiked down from the overlook park in White Rock and floated to the Fijoles canyon and ran back out of the canyon and back down to the park i n White RFock. Any takers for a Friday afternoon float sometime in June 2008? I’ll bring my old Sherpa raft and show up.

If I can ever get some time off I will post a day and some of us can meet up. How high is that bridge?


I’m still up for this, just let me know when. Also, I’ve got a rope that’s about 165 feet long and climbing harnesses we could use.


I am hoping to get up there after/during mid july, I have been soooooooo busy lately. I will scout it and post the results.

I’ve always launched at Buckman, on the east side of the rio. Not a good place to leave a vehicle. We either ride bikes from town, or more often we’ll drive to a spot about halfway between Buckman and east side take-out(s) and use bikes from there. From Buckman there is an old narrow gauge railroad grade that follows the river up to Otowi bridge (I think it was called the Chile Line). It’s nice to launch a little upriver from Buckman, simply because Buckman is mostly 2WD access and the last vehicle access until Cochiti, and with the cars come garbage. After Buckman, it quickly becomes a ‘remote’ sort of trip with the canyon walls growing taller every mile downriver and it is spectacular from here on out.

The biking and hiking bits all take place within the Caja del Rio Plateau, Santa Fe Nat. Forest. There are a couple of places to take out on the east side of the canyon. Both are a pretty stiff hike out, up unmaintained trails that are hard to find from the river if you don’t know exactly where to look for the trailhead. These trails are NOT shown on several maps of the area or are inaccurate. One pops out onto Chino mesa which makes a ‘short loop’, but still a full day trip. The other trail out of White Rock Canyon on the east side, is just about opposite Frijoles Canyon (to the west) but just a little downriver. The canyon is a little deeper at this point, the trail is almost never used and so the hike out is for sure a little tougher. This ‘long loop’ can also be done in one day but it has to be a tight group, no loittering, fit and focused. These days I am more interested in doing this as an overnight trip, maybe even staying longer down in the canyon. It’s a really great place, well suited for packrafts.

The biking is easy 2-track, unless it is muddy and then it is unrideable, full-on soul-crushing bike-destroying adobe goo. Not usually a problem, with our climate, but should be kept in mind.

I have not been over Otowi bridge for some time; I want to say it’s no more than 50 feet high. I’ll ask around, but…… the problem with launching at Otowi, is that it is located on the San Idelfonso Indian Reservation. My understanding is that you are not allowed, in any way, shape, or form, to be fooling around on or near this bridge. They have had some problems here in the past, Tribal cops keep a close watch and you may be arrested for trespass, possibly lose all your gear, etc. No joke. Also bear in mind what town is accessed via this bridge http://www.lanl.gov/ , the state of the world, and what a couple of folks dangling from ropes off the side of this particular bridge might look like. You could end up ‘packrafting’ down in Guantanamo Bay :open_mouth: . I’m trying to be funny, but again really no joke.

If you click on this http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/BOATINGWeb/BoatingwatersriverrunningNewMexico.htm and scroll down about halfway, there’s a good description under “Rio Grande Middle-Espanola to Cochiti Lake”. Just a couple of class III’s, so nothing like the upper Rio Grande if that’s what you are looking for.

I’ve never hiked out Frijoles canyon, it’s probably the quickest way off the river. Big boats tend not to come down this far because nobody wants to hike the big boat out. As for going all the way to Cochiti Lake and taking out there, a couple of things. The river starts to go slack even before Ancho rapids. The last couple of miles before the lake proper it is hardly moving. Once you hit the lake it is a couple miles along a steep sided canyon to the take out. In the afternoons the wind funnels up this canyon, strong enough to keep a paddler pinned at the downwind side of the lake. If you are going this route you really need to hit the lake early in the day to avoid these winds. If you want to go all the way from Buckman to Cochiti lake in one day, count on those last miles being a little more taxing than you might expect. This might be more fun as an overnight trip, camping just before the lake and getting out the next morning before the wind kicks up. I sail out at Cochiti, trust me on the pm wind thing.

I’m happy to post info on this trip, let me know if you need more details. I hope to get down there a few times this year and the more the merrier, so come one come all!

Just my $0.02… Ottowi Bridge is pretty low, no more than 25 feet tall during the winter. It is extremely easy to get to the water on the path just to the north of the bridge. I have used this area as a put-in in the past with a commercial trip, but that was more than 15 years ago… It is common for tribal authorities to try a little shake-down when they see “intruders” floating on the water they “own.” I have had great success with my selective hearing in these situations; I just kept paddling along and nothing more came of it. I would recommend being dropped off at the bridge as the San Ildifonso authorities are not responsible for theft or damage done to vehicles. This is Northern NM, be really careful out there.

OK… due to selling a house, then buying a house, and moving and some few long out of the area jobs and out of state work, ect… I haven’t been around for a while. I am GOING to do this trip this year. I will be more active here so I don’t miss anyone plannign a trip. (Did I just invite myself?) Also, I have a few firemen buddies with boats too and I will post if we plan anything.

So is Buckman still out of the question? I think avoiding Otowi is good advice…thanks.

trying to find data on the rio grande from espanola to cochiti lake, all i find starts at the bridge on the way to las alamos, didnt know if anyone started that run in espanola??

I’m planning on doing this (finally) the early summer of 2015. Plenty of time to plan. Sorry I have been out of the loop for a while.