The Rio Grande del Norte is a National Monument in New Mexico that overlooks the Red River and the Rio Grande gorge. There are numerous hiking, biking, and longboarding opportunities as well as five campgrounds and even places that allow you to primitive camp in the gorge. We got to longboard an awesome 8 mile loop around the area, you can read more about that HERE. There is a great map of the monument that highlights some of the sights and the campground locations. Click HERE for the map!
There is a fee area at the far end of the monument which is $3.00 for day use and there are also trails that can be accessed without entering the fee area. We entered the monument near Cerro, New Mexico. On the road leading into the monument we stopped at a pull off for the Chiflo Trail. There is a large parking area and the trail is .4 miles each way for a total of .8 miles. The trail leads you down into the canyon giving you access to the Rio Grande as well as beautiful views of the canyon from within.
Once past the fee area we drove to the end of the monument and checked out La Junta Overlook.
There is a campground and access to a trail down from here as well. The overlook offered great views of the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Red River deep down in the gorge. The La Junta Trail begins here and accesses this confluence but it was a little rainy that day so we just enjoyed the views.
On our way back to the parking lot, we followed the Rio Bravo Nature Trail. That is when we found a herd of mountain goats checking out the trail, too!
We stayed still and kept our distance as they became aware of us. They watched us and we watched them.
Eventually, the passed by us and continued on. It was an amazing experience to witness such beautiful creatures!
Next, we drove north to Big Arsenic Trail. This trail was one mile one-way with an elevation change of 680 feet.
This trail is a self guided interpretive trail with informative signs about the area, geology and vegetation to read along the way.
The trail offered a learning opportunity, as well as exercise and great views of the river and the canyon.
Eventually, the trail leads to a beautiful cold spring and some large boulders.
Further, there were restrooms and primitive camping areas down by the Rio Grande. As if this hike wasn’t already great, next we encountered some boulders with petroglyphs.
From here, we headed back and made the ascent back up. This hike was really enjoyable and we didn’t encounter many other people.
The last stop we made in the monument was the Chawalauna Overlook. It is a short, developed walk to the vista point. This overlooked the Big Arsenic area of the Rio Grande which we had just experienced from down below. The views were stunning! And the size of the gorge was made very apparent as the large Rio Grande snaked its way through. We stayed here for a little while and enjoyed the vast beauty.
There was also a rock formation across from the overlook trail that had a hole, or a “window”, in it and you could see down to the Rio Grande through it. It was a fun and unique addition to the already magnificent overlook.
With an abundance of hikes and even more spectacular views, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is definitely worth experiencing. It’s a beautiful area with lots to see and do for free or for a small fee! And it was not crowded like many places tend to be. Thanks for reading about our adventure here at the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in New Mexico. Please leave any questions or comments about this adventure in the comment section below! Feel free to check out some of our other hikes and adventure articles here or if you prefer your adventures to have wheels, read about our longboarding adventures here! To help support The Lost Longboarder please check out our hand crafted longboards and apparel at our shop!