The Rio Grande Gorge and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The town of Taos, NM sits at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where they yield to the Taos Plateau. Near the southern end of the Rocky Mountain chain, the Taos mountains are composed of hard rocks – schist, granite and quartzite – and include Wheeler Peak, at 13, 161′, the highest in the state of New Mexico. Taos sits alongside the Rio Grande rift, which runs from northern Mexico into southern Colorado. The rift is responsible for extensive volcanism along its length, and in particular to the west of  Taos. The Taos Plateau is a product of numerous lava flows, and is cut through by the Rio Grande river, which is the centerpiece of the newly dedicated Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River alternates between mild stretches, sections of moderate rapids suitable for rafting and sections that can be navigated only by expert kayakers. The gorge attains a maximum depth of 800′, and is bridged only once at rim level, by the Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge, 7 miles west of Taos. Only one road accesses the wilderness gorge, where the Rio Hondo joins the Rio Grande, north of Taos. The wilderness gorge ends at the river level Taos Junction bridge, 16 miles downstream of the Rio Hondo confluence. A dirt road climbs to the western rim of the gorge from this bridge. The view to the northeast (photo below) was taken near the point where this road reaches the rim of the canyon.

View to the northeast, from the Taos Junction bridge road

View to the northeast, from the Taos Junction bridge road

About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: 2. Coyote Buttes: 3. Four Cornered, the Land: 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: 5. Rio Marañon: 6. Rio Grande:
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