Where to Paddle in Albuquerque?
When we opened our doors in 2010, recreation on the Rio Grande near Albuquerque was rare, to say the least. There have been tremendous changes since, and we now regularly see many others on the river. We also receive dozens of emails and phone calls each summer from folks who have their own watercraft inquiring about where to put in. These calls have become frequent enough that responding to them interferes with our ability to serve our guests, so we've decided to address this here on our site, as there doesn't appear to be any other resource online that does so.
The most important thing to understand regarding river access in the Albuquerque area is the degree of difficulty involved. Unlike communities that have long embraced river recreation and made concerted efforts to provide easy access for paddlers, the communities within Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties have done little. Access does exist, but in all cases, lengthy and challenging carries of boats and gear is required, and should be a significant consideration for those who own their own watercraft, as well as those thinking of purchasing their own canoe, kayak or SUP to use on the river here.
We have been encouraged as a result of some fairly prominent calls for improved access (see this front page article from the ABQ Journal), and are hopeful that there may be progress as interest in river recreation grows. The paddling community here though, while growing, remains small, so we don't anticipate any noteworthy changes soon. It's sort of a circular issue, in that many who would likely enjoy the river won't do so without easier access, and easier access is unlikely to occur without more people enjoying the river.
With these caveats addressed, what follows below are details regarding the commonly used public access points along the 18 miles of the Rio immediately north of Albuquerque where we operate, listed from north to south. Although we don't currently offer trips there, we've also included links to information about access within the City of Albuquerque, as well as a New Mexico State Parks link addressing other paddling opportunities statewide.
For those discouraged by the prospect of long, difficult carries, we will take this opportunity to remind you that Quiet Waters Paddling does offer those who own their own boats the option to join any of our trips and receive a discount of $10.00 per watercraft from our standard rates. We're pretty acclimated to the ridiculous portages involved.
Lastly. while we are quite happy to see the growth of recreation on the river, and would like to encourage more to do so, we are also operating a business, not a public agency. Please respect our time, and do not call us with requests for additional information regarding access beyond what follows below.
Obvious Disclaimer is Obvious: This information is provided as a public service only, and we provide no warranties, assurances of safety or security, nor any other guarantees of any kind regarding any decisions made by any person or persons with regard to any use of the information provided below.
Notes: All GPS coordinates from Google Earth (Degrees/Decimal Minutes).
The northernmost commonly used public access is the Angostura Diversion Dam, located at the south end of the village of Algodones. Accessed via a service road that heads west from NM Hwy 313, the dam is managed by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD). Locked gates prevent access to the dam itself, so a carry of approximately ¼ mile to the river is involved.
NM 313/Angostura Diversion Dam Service Road Entrance GPS Coordinates and Google Maps link:
The most popular access in Bernalillo is at Coronado Campground, located just northwest of the Hwy 550 bridge in Bernalillo. A day use parking fee of $5.00 applies to any vehicle(s) parking at the campground. The parking area is located at the north end of the campground, and the river is accessed by a fairly steep, rough trail through the bosque requiring a carry of approximately 130 yards.
NM HWY 550/Coronado Campground Entrance GPS Coordinates and Google Maps link:
Completed in early 2013 as part of the outstanding Rio Rancho bosque restoration project, the North Beach Bosque Trail offers a crushed gravel trail of a little over 100 yards to access the Rio immediately above the small “North Beach” rapid. The entrance to the service road leading to the parking area is reached via Riverside drive, just east of Rio Vista Park
Rio Rancho North Beach Bosque Trail Service Road Entrance GPS Coordinates and Google Maps link:
Another access at “North Beach” (a few hundred yards downstream of the Rio Rancho option) is reached via an MRGCD access road that parallels the Corrales siphon irrigation channel at the westernmost end of the Village of Corrales. The service Road runs north from Corrales Rd for nearly a mile to a small parking area at the river. A wide crushed gravel ramp/trail of about 100 yards leads to a rocky beach area for staging and launching.
North Corrales Siphon Channel Service Road Entrance GPS Coordinates and Google Maps link:
Alameda Bridge (Corrales)
The southern terminus of the reach we operate on is the Alameda Bridge. The best vehicle access at Alameda is an unimproved parking area immediately northwest of the bridge. This property is managed by the Village of Corrales, and is accessed from westbound Alameda traffic only. There is a large concrete boat launch here, constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and budgeted as a recreational improvement as part of the $25MM Bosque Restoration Project (funded by the 2013 Federal Stimulus Legislation), but vehicle access is closed to all but authorized emergency personnel. The carry from the river to the parking lot is again about 100 yards, and requires lifting boats and gear over locked gates.
We recommend this access as a takeout only, as the San Juan/Chama Diversion dam is just a quarter mile below the bridge, and there is no easy portage around the dam.
Alameda Bridge NW Parking Area Entrance GPS Coordinates and Google Maps link (Corrales) :
Access below Alameda Bridge (City of Albuquerque)
We rarely operate below Alameda. Not only is access extremely difficult (Montano requires a carry of a half mile!), but with the exception of a short period of a few weeks of high flows in strong water years, the wider river channel and lower flows resulting from the San Juan Diversion dam leads to a very shallow, braided river channel with multiple sandbars and mudflats requiring outstanding river reading skills to navigate. Still, some people do float through the city, and the river through Rio Grande Valley State Park is outstanding, once you've managed to get to it. Information on river access can be found at the following two links:
Other Information (Statewide)
New Mexico State Parks has a pretty comprehensive list of other paddling opportunities statewide at the following link:
New Mexico State Parks: River Runs