Orilla Verde Recreation Area is nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande, within the steep-walled Rio Grande Gorge. The local terrain is comprised of rugged, wide open mesas and chiseled steep canyons. The elevation along the river is 6,100 feet and rises 800 feet at the gorge rim. The Taos Valley Overlook offers stunning and breathtaking views of the Rio Grande Gorge and Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the mesa top above the river. Gentle waters with occasional small rapids flow through Orilla Verde, providing an ideal setting for many recreational activities. Because of the dramatic changes in elevation and the diversity of plant life, Orilla Verde draws many species of animals, including raptors (such as eagles and hawks), songbirds, waterfowl, beaver, cougar, ringtail, mule deer, and many more. The Rio Grande also has attracted humans since prehistoric times. Evidence of ancient peoples is found throughout the recreation area in the form of petroglyphs on the rocks and many other types of archaeological sites. The climate at Orilla Verde is semi-arid, with summer thunderstorms common in July and August, and snow possible from October through March. Summer temperatures range from 45 to 90 degrees, and winter temperatures range from -15 to 45 degrees.

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