Photos and videos: Rio Chama rafting, May 2023

This page features photos and videos from a wilderness rafting trip on the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico.

The Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande and begins in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.

Running for about 120 miles, the Rio Chama includes a 31-mile stretch that is protected as a Wild and Scenic River. The photos and videos on this page are from a three-day wilderness rafting trip down the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rio Chama, starting just below El Vado Dam and ending upstream from Abiquiu Lake.

Flows of the Rio Chama have been augmented by transmountain diversions that transport water from the San Juan River, part of the Colorado River Basin, into the Rio Grande Basin. The San Juan-Chama Project, built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1951 to 1976, provides irrigation water for 92,479 acres and helps supply water to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

DateMay 29-31, 2023
LocationRio Chama, New Mexico (map)
CreditMitch Tobin/The Water Desk
RightsFree to reuse under Creative Commons license.

Selected images from the gallery

Click to enlarge

To use these images

Please read and consent to the terms and license below for access to the download page.

The Water Desk’s photo and video resources are part of our efforts to aid and enrich news coverage of Western water issues. Our imagery is shot by professional photojournalists and is available for free reuse under a Creative Commons noncommercial license.

To help us continue to offer this free material, we ask that you please:
  1. Credit the original photographer and the Water Desk as the source
  2. Email us a link to the published story at
  3. Consider sending The Water Desk your ideas for future content that we could add to the library
  4. Keep supporting professional photojournalists by hiring them for assignments

I understand and consent

< Show related galleries

Explore aerial, drone and ground-based imagery from The Water Desk