Orilla Verde Recreation Area


The Orilla Verde Recreation Area is located within the Río Grande Del Norte National Monument and along the Río Grande Wild and Scenic River. Nestled along the banks of the Río Grande and within the steep-walled Río Grande Gorge, the campgrounds in this area offer nearby access to the river.

The elevation along the river is 6,100 feet and the steep canyon rises 800 feet from the river to the Gorge rim. 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 more. The Río 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.

Access to the Orilla Verde Recreation Area is provided by NM 570. The Visitor Center is located 1 mile south of the Recreation Area in the town of Pilar at the intersection of NM 570 and NM 68. The Recreation Area includes trails, seven campgrounds, boat launches, picnic tables, grills, drinking water, and restrooms. Two group shelters are available.

There are seven campgrounds with tables, fire grills, and restrooms. Four of the campgrounds also have drinking water and shelters available. Pilar Campground and Río Bravo Campground both have RV sites with water and electric hookup (no sewer). Pay showers are also available at Río Bravo Campground.

Group Shelters are available by reservation. Each group shelter accommodates up to 40 people. Fees for the group shelters are $30.00/day use and $40.00/overnight. For reservations, call 575.758.8851.

Camping & Picnicking
Seven campgrounds are located at the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. Each are equipped with tables, grills, and restroom facilities. The Pilar and Río Bravo Campgrounds offer RV campsites with water and electric hookups (no sewer). The Campgrounds have drinking water and shelters available, except for the Río Pueblo and Lone Juniper Campgrounds. Camping is permitted at designated sites only.

Swimming in the Río Grande is dangerous due to swift currents and cold temperatures. Swimming is not recommended. Nudity is not allowed in the Recreation Area.

Gentle waters with occasional small rapids through Orilla Verde provide an ideal area for canoeing, kayaking, and non-whitewater rafting. All boaters must comply with State of New Mexico and BLM regulations for boating safety, equipment, and registration. Designated boat launches are located at the Taos Junction, Lone Juniper, Río Bravo, and Quartzite sites. Launching or takeout is only allowed at designated sites. Please observe the Pilar Quiet Zone through the village of Pilar. (Río Grande Segment Descriptions)

Anglers along the Río Grande will be challenged by brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike. All anglers must have a valid New Mexico fishing license and a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Validation in their possession. Licenses are available at the Río Grande Gorge Visitor Center. To improve trout fisheries, "Special Trout Waters" have been designated north from Taos Junction Bridge to Colorado. Anglers need to be aware of special restrictions which apply in this area (New Mexico’s fishing proclamation is available at the Visitor Center).

There are wonderful hiking opportunities in the area. See the Orilla Verde Campground and Trail Map for trail locations. Trails are steep and hiking can be strenuous. Good physical condition, sturdy shoes, and plenty of drinking water are necessary. For more information on other trails in the Recreation Area, please stop by or call the Visitor Center.

Biking is allowed on all trails except the La Senda del Medio and Picuris trails. The Taos Valley Overlook Trail System off of Highway 68 offers great biking opportunities and is a short drive from the Campgrounds.

Río Grande Gorge Visitor Center
Located in Pilar, NM, at the intersection of NM 570 and NM 68 the Visitor Center provides information about the recreation experiences to be had in the area as well as about the geological and natural history of this diverse and interesting area. From May 1 through October, the Visitor Center is open 7 days per week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 7 days per week. For more information, contact the Visitor Center at 575-751-4899, or the Taos Field Office at 575-758-8851.

Location & Access
From Taos, follow NM 68 sixteen miles southwest to Pilar, NM and turn northwest on NM 570.