The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument was established on March 25, 2013 by Presidential Proclamation. The new monument includes approximately 242,500 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The landscape is comprised of rugged, wide open plains, volcanic cones, and steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths. The Rio Grande carves an 800 foot deep gorge through high plains at an elevation of about 7,000 feet. Among the volcanic cones dotting the plains, Ute Mountain is the highest, reaching to 10,093 feet.

This part of the Rio Grande has attracted human activity since prehistoric times. Evidence of ancient use is found throughout the area in the form of petroglyphs, prehistoric dwelling sites, and many other types of archaeological sites. More recent activity includes evidence of homesteading.

Lying between the San Juan Mountains and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this area is also an important area for wintering animals, and provides a corridor by which wildlife move between the two mountain ranges. The varied landscape creates habitat for a wide variety of species.  Cottonwoods and willows grow along the rivers, piñon and juniper woodlands at middle elevations include 500 year-old trees, and mountain tops are forested by ponderosa, Douglas fir, aspen, and spruce. Wildlife including raptors, songbirds, waterfowl, beaver, river otter, ringtail, prairie dog, cougar, black bear, bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, and many more species call the National Monument home.

The unique setting of the Monument also provides a wealth of recreational opportunities. Rock Climbing, rappelling, whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and mountain biking are some of the more outstanding activities that can be enjoyed in the Monument. Some locations receive high amounts of concentrated recreational use, yet seclusion may be found in the vast majority of the Monument. The Wild Rivers Recreation Area at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River includes campgrounds, scenic viewpoints, and hiking trails. La Junta Point, at Wild Rivers, provides a dramatic vista of the confluence of the two rivers, and is wheelchair accessible. The Orilla Verde Recreation Area includes campgrounds near the river’s edge, as well as boat launches. The Taos Valley overlook provides stunning views and trails for hiking and mountain biking.

The National Monument includes the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic Riverand Red River Wild and Scenic River, designated by Congress in 1968 to provide present and future visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty of rivers in a natural free-flowing state.

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