Whitewater rafting adventure along the Rio Chama in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

Take a whitewater rafting trip on New Mexico’s epic Rio Chama through Georgia O’Keeffe Country in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which helps protect special rivers for future generations. We joined Steve Harris of Far Flung Adventures, who has been guiding travelers along great rivers for more than 30 years. A staunch river advocate, he helped us explore and film along the Rio Chama, a tributary of the Rio Grande with approximately 25 miles protected as Wild & Scenic.

With Far Flung Adventures rafting in New Mexico

The Chama was designated a Wild & Scenic River in 1988. In addition to trout and wildlife flourishing here, the canyons, with their varying elevations, are host to layers of rock with untold stories dating back millions of years and scenery that has attracted humans for thousands of years, including in recent times with artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Over 12,000 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams are protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which was signed in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. Some examples include the Snake River Headwaters in Wyoming and portions of the Rio Chama in New Mexico.

The Rio Chama truly is wild and scenic

If you’re heading to this part of New Mexico, enjoy a rafting adventure with Steve and a hike on the nearby Continental Divide Trail at Skull Bridge. Travelers can camp out in the area or stay at Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a truly unique experience.

The courtyard at Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Simple accommodations at Monastery of Christ in the Desert

You’ll be spending the night in a Benedictine monastery in the high desert, where you are welcome to participate with the monks in daily service and life and welcome to take a vow of silence during your stay. This stunning property on the Rio Chama is a respite from the world. They require a two-night minimum. It’s remote, so you’ll want to stay at least two nights!

The monastery is also home to horses, so I felt right at home

Look for more New Mexico adventures in our new season on PBS, including the “New Mexico’s Continental Divide Trail” episode. 

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