Red River Wild and Scenic River

Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico.

The Red River, located within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, is designated Wild and Scenic for its lower 4 lower miles before it joins with the Rio Grande. Flowing out of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, the Red River was the head of a smaller Rio Grande of ancient times. Scientists believe that some 400,000 years ago, a closed drainage basin with no outflow existed in the San Luis Valley to the north in Colorado. With changes causing the region to become wetter, the lake within this basin overflowed to the south and drained into the Red River. The volume of water continued to increase as it cut through the earth, forming the modern Rio Grande Gorge we know today. As a result, the Red River became a tributary and the headwaters of the Rio Grande repositioned to central Colorado.

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area is on the mesa above the Red River. Exceptional views of the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River is found at the La Junta overlook in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

Nearby Activities


From Taos, follow NM 68 north 7 miles. Take NM 522 approximately 20 miles to Questa. Travel 3 miles past the stoplight in Questa to NM 378. Turn left onto NM 378, and follow the signs about 12 miles west to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

Additional Information