Monday, August 8, 2011

Wild & Scenic Rivers, Part 3: The Pecos River

National Wild and Scenic River status is a designation made by Congress for the purpose of protecting naturally flowing rivers from development which would substantially change their wild or scenic nature.

Selected rivers in the United States are preserved under this designation for possessing “outstandingly remarkable” scenic, recreational, geologic, historic, or other similar values. Rivers, or sections of rivers, so designated are preserved in their free-flowing condition and are not dammed or otherwise impeded.

New Mexico has four designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, which include the Rio Grande, the Rio Chama, the Pecos River, and the east fork of the Jemez River. These rivers flow through some of the most breathtaking landscapes New Mexico has to offer.

Famous in the folklore of the Old West, the expression “West of the Pecos” made reference to the rugged frontiers of the Wild West in the latter half of the 19th century. The Rio Pecos played a large role in the exploration of the Southwest by the Spaniards.

The Pecos River headwaters are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The river flows from the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through the rugged granite canyons and high alpine meadows of the Pecos Wilderness, forming several waterfalls. The river flows a total of 926 miles through the Santa Fe National Forest in North Central New Mexico and neighboring Texas, before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. The Pecos is one of New Mexico’s most heavily fished trout streams.

The upper reaches of the Pecos flow through deep forest year-round. The river provides seasonal whitewater opportunities for canoeists and kayakers, and excellent year-round fly fishing. Other recreational activities on the Pecos River include mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing.

Find out more about New Mexico’s Wild & Scenic Rivers

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