When driving to beautiful Taos, New Mexico from Santa Fe travelers have to drive up Highway 68 through the Rio Grande River Gorge to the high plateau that Taos is located on:
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Once on top of the plateau the Rio Grande Gorge opens up for everyone to see in all its splendor:
Just outside of Taos there is actually a location where people can best appreciate this wonder of nature which is at the Rio Grande Gorge State Park:
This state park is located about 10 miles to the west of Taos on Highway 64. The park features a large lookout area with picnic tables and restroom facilities:
From the lookout is the most iconic view from the Rio Grande State Park which is of the “Gorge Bridge“:
This bridge in the past has also been known as the “High Bridge and it” hangs 650 feet above the Rio Grande River. This makes it the fifth highest bridge in the United States behind the highest bridge being the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado that is 1,053 feet high. However, unlike the tourism only Royal Gorge Bridge this bridge across the Rio Grande actually serves a useful purpose as a busy highway bridge. The bridge was built in 1965 and since then has been featured in a number of movies due to its dramatic profile across this spectacular gorge.
Also from the lookout there is a great view of the Taos Mountains in the distance that includes New Mexico’s highest peak the 13,161 foot (4,011 m) Wheeler Peak:
From the lookout I walked down to the highway to walk on the pedestrian sidewalk across the bridge. The day I visited the park there was some repair work being executed on the bridge:
I first started out across the bridge by walking on the sidewalk on the right side of the bridge. Here is the view from the right side of the bridge looking back towards the lookout area:
Here is the view from the right side of the bridge looking south:
Here is another view looking south that I took once I reached the middle of the bridge:
I have been to the Royal Gorge and this bridge definitely does not feel as high as the Royal Gorge, but nevertheless the view is still quite impressive. From the middle of the bridge I tried to walk to the middle portion of the bridge on the left side, but could not because of the construction crews working there. So this next picture is from not quite the center of the bridge looking to the north:
Here is another view looking north further up on the bridge:
Another major difference between the Rio Grande Gorge and the Royal Gorge that I noticed was that the Rio Grande River flows through the canyon no where near the speed of the Arkansas River as it flows through the Royal Gorge. The snow pack this year had been pretty low up in Colorado so possibly it is just an unseasonable year for water runoff into the canyon.
Here is one final look at the canyon looking south before I decided to head back to the parking area:
For anyone visiting Taos there is no reason not to take the 20 minutes it takes to drive out to this bridge and take in these views. The views from the lookout as well as on the bridge are truly outstanding and not to be missed. For those looking for further adventure there are plenty of outfitters in Taos that can coordinate rafting and fishing trips in the gorge. Since the water level was so low when I visited this time, it is probably a good idea to ask about the water level before booking a rafting trip. If anyone has any experience they would like to share about the Rio Grande Gorge please leave a comment and let us know what you think of the place.