The Wild Rivers Recreation Area has been set aside to allow visitors to experience the beauty of two national Wild and Scenic Rivers protected by Congress. Here the Rio Grande and Red River are preserved in their natural, free-flowing state for present and future generations to enjoy and appreciate. The Rio Grande or "Great River" has sliced an 800-foot deep volcanic canyon through the high plains of northern New Mexico, rich with history, rugged beauty, and exciting recreational opportunities. This natural wonder is intensively used, yet 90 percent remains in a natural condition; the other 10 percent is developed for concentrated recreational use. Whitewater access draws visitors to the riverbank. The Wild Rivers Backcountry Byway, winding its way along the rim of the Rio Grande gorge, offers access to spectacular overlooks, including the confluence of the Red River and the Rio Grande at La Junta Point -- possibly the most dramatic vista statewide, and it is wheelchair accessible. The canyon ecosystem descends 800 feet from rim to river, creating a unique diversity in plant and animal life. Ancient pinon and juniper forests are home to 500 year-old trees. Watchable wildlife opportunities include mule deer, red-tailed hawk, mountain blue-bird, and prairie dog. The climate is semi-arid with summer thunderstorms common in July and August, and snow possible from November through March. Summer temperatures range from 45 to 90F and in winter from -15 to 45F.

Beautiful scenery. We had a picnic by the river before heading back up. Well worth it

Entrance to the left of the parking area. Beautiful views of the Rio Grande gorge and an easy and short hike down, even with two kids. Multiple hot springs await at the bottom along the river; one super warm, the other more like bath water. Springs are clothing optional, so I wouldn’t suggest this hike for the prudish.

Fun and easy hike to the springs and river. Hardest part is getting to the trailhead. After that it’s an easy hike.

The views were spectacular very little shade the sun was brutally hot if you have any issues with Heights this can be a pretty scary trail we only did about .3 miles down sat on the ledge enjoyed the view and then scramble back up again we briefly went back down to sit on that same ledge but since it wasVery hot that day we elected to not go any further still it was worth it to at least come out to this trail it’s about a good 30 minutes be on Questa it’s a very remote road there is a campsite there a water fountain and restrooms which was awesome

1 month ago

The Big Arsenic Springs trail takes you from the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge down a cliff face via multiple switchbacks which have been created with masonry, mortar and rock, making access through nearly vertical terrain possible. The park service has placed informational placards about certain flora and fauna along the trail which add interest and a chance for a brief break at certain points on the trail. After the steep descent, there is a central section which flattens out a bit before reaching an area of gradual descent to the Rio Grande river itself. At the bottom of the trail a beautiful spring creek's crystal clear water flows between large boulders into the river. I assume the water isn't palatable, given the name Arsenic Spring. There is a bit of poison ivy in this area so be on guard. I agree with another reviewer that the lean to shade pavilions at the bottom of the trail detract from the beauty of the area. The petroglyphs of bighorn sheep on a large boulder about 300 yards north of the Arsenic Spring are definitely worth a quick side trip. I've got to say, the ascent back up to the gorge rim was pretty rough on me, and I had a lot of knee and hip pain over a two week period. There were many stone lips on the vertical part of the trail, built to keep the water from washing out the trail, which meant a high step over them while climbing out. Overall the memory of this hike was great, and the scenery was excellent. I felt that the difficulty was under-rated and that it exceeded a moderate classification, mainly due to the condition of the trail.

2 months ago

Great spot camping at the dispersed sites by the river. Beautiful views at the bottom of the canyon and fun time swimming in the river. August 2018.

We followed the written directions since the gps lost signal. The hike down is rocky at times but not difficult. River very low, possible to walk to other side, thigh-deep max. Met some wonderful people. One guy told about history of the place. Supposedly shady character Manby established a brothel by the river in this spot in late 1800s. Some brickwork still intact. Springs feature in ”Easy Rider”, early on when the guys visit a comune and go skinnydipping with two hippie girls. You can tell river was higher back then though. Lower now due to climate change (less snow in winter, very low in winter of 2018) and dambuilding in Colorado. Mesmerizing place, we absolutely loved it.

2 months ago

Beautiful views going down and up. You pretty much are going down or up, very little flat. The springs and the river are well worth the altitude change. The petroglyphs just past the camping area are very nice as well. 85 degrees, we needed more than the 2 bottles of water we brought.

Nice short hike down the side of the gorge with excellent views of the gorge and river running through it.
Took the kids to the Hot Springs – they are not super hot but pleasantly warm. The warmer one is the one hidden in the shade. The other pool is a little cooler.
Note that the drive-in is a long dirt road and you would be better off with high clearance.

Beautiful hike down the side of the canyon, ending in two spring-fed pools (one warm, one hot) alongside the river. We saw mountain goats and hawks.
The road in to the trail head is quite rough, so go very slowly unless you have 4-wheel drive.

3 months ago

It’s not long and it’s not difficult. And, the manufactured pavilion coverings really detract from the natural beauty. However! The first look out over the canyon is AMAZING!

Beautiful trail, shady in the morning - the river is gorgeous at the bottom. It is a pull coming out of the canyon but worth it.

Very nice hike. The road in is rough so a Awd/4wd car is likely a requirement.

This was a great trail and hike for our family of 5! Even our 3 year old was able to complete part of Big Arsenic and all of Little Arsenic Trail! Weather was great at 71 F and the gorge was an amazing sight! Recommend this trail to all!

It’s a beautiful hike with great views of the Rio Grande canyon and river and the Hot Springs are warm, small but beautiful

7 months ago

Pros: Beautiful views, manageable hike, great wildlife spot (We saw a herd of bighorn sheep)
Cons: Can be crowded if you go at the wrong time. Water is more warm than hot. You need a truck or SUV to get there. The road is rough.

Beautiful hike, albeit rocky at times, but worth it for beautiful hot springs , views, and proximity to the Rio Grande

Super easy trail with some beautiful vistas of the Rio Grande river ending in a sweet hot spring pool.

11 months ago

Great relaxing spot, watch out for the tarantulas. Pools are not too hot.

Very quite, mostly flat trail along the top of the Rio grande gorge.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The trail was fine. Getting down to the springs and back up is easy enough. A disappointing amount of trash and old clothes are strewn about all around the springs, as well as dog poop on the trail. Met a few nice people at the bottom. If you have a couple extra hours, and don't want to go too far from Taos, give it a shot. Once was probably enough for me.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

We had mapped this trail using the directions function in the app, so we started out on Big Arsenic. At the fork to follow La Junta and Little Arsenic, we opted to just follow Big Arsenic. It ends right down by the river with beautiful rock formations, a waterfall and refreshing cold mountain water - which was a relief because it was very hot the day we hiked (August 30, 2017). It was absolutely beautiful with stunning views along the way. That said, this hike was originally under Rio Grande Gorge hike and labeled as easy. Maybe because we hiked in and back up to the rim (7,575feet elevation descending 680 feet in only .8 miles) this was a moderately hard trail! Be sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen. But soooooo worth it!!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

So I didn't have high hopes but I was pleasantly surprised on a Sunday morning. nobody around but a friendly naked artist, quiet, warm. very relaxing after having climbed Wheeler the day before.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Decent little trail to go see the confluence of the Rio and Red. Take a filter to pick up water at the bottom! Water fountains and restrooms at the top.

Leave No Trace!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This is a lovely hike near Taos, or Red River, NM. Make sure to take plenty of water!!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Awesome views, hot springs were warm

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Loved this hike! Though I'd rate it moderate, not easy. We did a 7.0 mi loop version with 1300 ft of climbing. Beautiful mix of high desert and river views. Educational trail markers on the Big Arsenic section with facts about local plant life.

From Big Arsenic Campground take the Big Arsenic Trail switchbacks down 0.6 mi to the river. If you want to take go to Big Arsenic Springs, then go upstream and back for an extra 0.8 mi. Continue 1.2 mi downstream to Little Arsenic Springs Campground then another 1.3 mi to La Junta, the confluence of the Red River and the Rio Grande. Come back 0.4 mi and work your way up the La Junta Trail out of the valley on a steep 800 ft climb over 0.8 mi to the rim.

You'll pop out at Montoso Campground and you can take the Rinconada Loop Trail through the Little Arsenic Campground until you return to the Big Arsenic Campground.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hiked down about an hour after sunset. Trail is fairly steep with snowpack and rocks, but very doable with good footwear. Great view of the stars from the bottom of the canyon. Hot springs were warm, but too cold to go in at night.

Note: 4 wheel drive is required to access trailhead in the winter. We had to park about .5 miles down the road and walk to the trailhead because of the road conditions.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A nice short downhill rocky hike.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Fun, beautiful scenery. Very rocky.

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