Rio Grande River Trips

New Mexico’s Sierra County offers amazing outdoor activities all year long but in the summer months, it’s all about the water! What water?  It’s the desert!  

SIERRA COUNTY: WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE!

Rio Grande River Trips

Well, for starters, Sierra County is home to Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico’s largest and the #1 recreation destination in the state. The county is also home to the Rio Grande, which serves up a refreshingly fun float experience that can be enjoyed by everyone from three-year-olds to those ninety and over!

The Rio Grande, the fourth longest river in North America, originates in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and passes through Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque on its way to Sierra County, where it flows into Elephant Butte Lake. In late spring each year, the lake’s dam releases water into the Rio Grande, creating perfect float conditions which might continue for weeks or even all summer long through Labor Day weekend.

Floating the River with Rio Grande River Trips, LLC

Preparation and Anticipation

Rio Grande River Trips

Floating the Rio Grande is made easy thanks to Rio Grande River Trips, LLC, (formerly Whitewater Weekends), which handles every detail. Guests book their trips (available Thursdays through Sundays) by phone and meet at Rotary Park along the Rio Grande near downtown Truth or Consequences, where they’re paired with life jackets and floats, which range from 6-8 passenger rafts to individual tubes and floats for coolers.

Once everyone is set, the adventure begins with a bus ride to the river just below Elephant Butte Lake Dam. The excitement mounts as guests receive their floats and gather at the river’s edge, where many guests choose to tie their floats and coolers together to ensure they enjoy their trip down the river as a group. And then they’re off!

Cool Fun on the River

Rio Grande River Trips

Depending on how fast the river is moving, it will take about one-and-a-half hours to make the six-mile trip, which may include a couple minor rapids along the way. Guests occasionally need to paddle to stay at the river’s center but for the most part, it’s a carefree journey with picturesque views, occasional wildlife sightings, and cool fun!  As Rio Grande River Trips’ owner and operator, Vikki Nicholson, shares, occasionally a grumpy person starts the trip but there’s never been a grumpy person when they finish their float!

The river carries guests on a meandering path past a few homes and Riverbend Hot Springs, often getting a wave or nod from homeowners or hot spring soakers. As the trip comes to an end, Rio Grande River Trips’ staff are at the river’s edge to help guide the floats to shore. It’s fun to listen to the excited comments as guests climb up the riverbank, ranging from “Can’t wait to do this again!” to “It was worth every penny!” and “I need to tell my friends about this!”

Rio Grande River Trips:  The Back Story

From Alaska to Belize and Back

Rio Grande River Trips

The float trip down the river is not the only interesting journey in this story. Rio Grande River Trips’ owner Vikki Nicholson, has quite the back story. While stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, Vikki met “Captain Bob,” owner and operator of a whitewater kayak company. The two immediately became friends, which eventually led Vikki to leave her military life behind for the great Alaska outdoors. 

While the kayaking business was good in Alaska, Captain Bob and Vikki eventually tired of waiting for the short summers to arrive so, fifteen years ago, they made the decision to move to Belize and open a new business there.  Eight months later, feeling they had made a mistake, the pair returned to Alaska with the goal of it being temporary until they found the perfect location for their business. 

Discovering Truth or Consequences

Rio Grande River Trips

Vikki spent a great deal of time researching suitable rivers that weren’t saturated with guide services.  It was during one of those searches that Truth or Consequences caught Vikki’s eye. She felt that after living in Alaska and Belize, she and Captain Bob couldn’t live anywhere ordinary, and Truth or Consequences certainly didn’t sound ordinary.  Besides, based on her research, Vikki knew the river was floatable and had no guide services at that time. 

A New Start

Rio Grande River Trips

Vikki and Captain moved to Truth or Consequences in 2008, opening their Whitewater Weekends  (now Rio Grande River Trips, LLC) business with life jackets, floats and a 1985 Chevy van, which is still used today!  While Captain worked to build the business, Vikki spent about six years working as a bartender at Sierra del Rio Golf Course in Elephant Butte, eventually leaving to help Captain run the business. 

Today, Vikki, having lost Captain to a severe illness, runs the business alone but with loyal assistants who, like Vikki, help ensure guests enjoy their time on the river.  With guests from all over the country and far beyond, including Mexico, Germany, Japan and many other overseas locations, Vikki finds her work interesting, rewarding, and downright fun.  Her smile is contagious, as are the smiles of all who experience this “cool thing to do” in Sierra County.

For more information and to book a float, call 575 740 3784.

Conclusion

Floating the Rio Grande is more than just a “cool thing to do” in Sierra County. It’s an unforgettable experience – a true adventure that will etch indelible memories you will treasure for years to come. You’ll think back on your river experience which, like Vikki Nicholson’s fascinating story, serves as an inspiring reminder that sometimes, the best adventures are born from the most unexpected journeys.

FAQs

  • Who is Vikki Nicholson?
    Vikki Nicholson is the owner of Rio Grande River Tripsi LLC, a successful river trip venture based in Truth or Consequences.
  • What is Whitewater Weekends?
    Vikki Nicholson and Captain Bob founded Whitewater Weekends; the name was recently changed to Rio Grande River Trips, LLC.
  • Where is Rio Grande River Trips located?
    The company is based in the city of Truth or Consequences.
  • Who was Captain Bob?
    Captain Bob was a close friend of Vikki Nicholson and co-founder of Whitewater Weekends. He passed away due to a severe illness.
  • What makes Vikki’s river trips unique?
    Vikki’s river trips offer an engaging and exciting experience for guests from all around the world. Her infectious enthusiasm and dedication to guest satisfaction set her trips apart.
  • What are the Rio Grande River Trips?
    Rio Grande River Trips  LLC is a company that facilitates memorable floating experiences along the Rio Grande in Sierra County, New Mexico.
  • Who can participate in the Rio Grande River Trips?
    The trips are suitable for all age groups, from three-year-olds to those ninety and over.
  • How long does the river trip take?
    Depending on the river’s flow, the six-mile trip takes approximately one and a half hours.
  • Where do the river trips start and end?
    The river trips start below the Elephant Butte Lake Dam and end near downtown Truth or Consequences at Rotary Park.

How can I book a trip with Rio Grande River Trips?
You can book a trip by calling the company at 575 740 3784.


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