Wild Rivers

The Rio Grande Gorge is one of New Mexico’s few landscape icons, but it’s something I’ve never yet photographed. The Gorge is long and deepens southward as the river flows out of Colorado’s San Luis Valley and cuts down into the old lava flows that form the vast volcanic plateau west of Taos. Most photos you see (such as this excellent example by Adam Schallau) are from the rim near the famous gorge bridge. No doubt I’ll try shooting that area someday, but I’ve long wanted to take some photos in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area up near Questa. An excellent trail system leads to very nice camping areas in ponderosa groves by the river, and large natural springs of clear water are an added enticement.

This section of river is known as the Upper Taos Box, and contains the Rio Grande’s stoutest whitewater, and it was a delight to see it with the river somewhat up. But for such a spectacular place, it was a bit of a tough nut to crack photographically. Deep canyons often are, as they present real lighting challenges where direct sunlight doesn’t approach the bottom until well after sunrise. I’d love to get back here in stormy weather: a late spring snowstorm that arrives when the river is high would probably be the ideal circumstance for shooting the inside of the Gorge.


3 thoughts on “Wild Rivers

  1. This is a great set of images, and you handled the tough lighting really really well. I love the Questa area, and this brings back a lot of great memories of my trail crew days in northern NM.

    My favorite is probably the second image, largely because of the lovely colors reflecting in the river, but I also like the first one…the silver ribbon of river is quite attractive!

    Thanks for sharing…these are great, Jackson!

  2. That first shot is an iconic sort of image for the upper Box. I love messing around that canyon up there.

    Years ago, Gray’s Sporting Journal had a photo essay that showed what could have been a trickle over pebbles, followed by a zoom shot revealing that the pebbles were boulders and there was a fisherman on one. I’ve always wondered where they got that overview from.

  3. Thanks both! Those Gray’s Porting photos sound very cool, I’d love to stumble across them. I always love landscapes that mess with one’s sense of scale!

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