(Stand Up) Paddleboard on the Rio Grande

Rich Dozier
12 July 2019

When you own a campground and RV park in the coolest place in the whole world, the question arises, ” Where do you go for break?” I understand the irony that campgrounds and RV parks are where people go to get away, so the answer is obviously, “We load up Frosty (our RV and go to someone else’s RV park!”

Our adventure this “weekend” (for us Tuesdays and Wednesdays) was to hangout in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico which is located just a few hours from Ruidoso.

We left late after work from Ruidoso and spent the night in T or C in the Walmart parking lot. By the way, thank you, Walmart. The service you provide for travelers is valued. We woke up, ate breakfast, shopped at Walmart for fruit and snacks and then checked into Riverbend RV Park, one of our favorite places to escape.

I had a plan but was not sure how to execute the scheme. I wanted to “Stand Up
Paddle Board” or SUP down the Rio Grande River. The river level was up significantly and flowing at a swift pace due to the Colorado snow melt.

On the first day I thought it was wise to experiment. Our SUPs are inflatable and
packable. We pumped up our boards and carried them about a half-mile up steam and found a place to launch. We floated that half-mile, and maybe another half mile, down river. After finding a place to dock and catch a few rays we deflated our SUPs and backpacked them back to “Frosty.” The experiment was a success. We were able to stand, sit and lay on the paddle boards without too much struggle. The next day I had a big adventure in mind.

Anna and I made friends with a nice young lady and her son. Christina was really sweet and Andres was well mannered. My scheme was coming to fruition. In the morning, I walked downstream about a mile and hid the backpacks that carry the SUPs in a bush.

After lunch our new friends drove us four miles up steam and dropped us off. I tipped
Christina generously including two large handfuls of cherries for Andres.

Anna and I have been river rafting in Taos, New Mexico and San Marcos, Texas. Early in our marriage we regularly kayaked the Rio Grande between Creede, Colorado and South Fork, Colorado. We have floated the Frio, Medina and Guadalupe Rivers in Texas dozens, if not a hundred, of times. We have never SUP’ed a river.

This was our favorite river trip ever.

We packed water, cherries (they were on sale at Walmart) in a small backpack and brought two life jackets. Andres warned us about rapids. Christina laughed it off saying, “they were not that big.” Anna put on her life jacket and I wrapped our backpack with my phone and keys in a waterproof bag inside of my life jacket and attached it to my SUP.

Anna and I had a wonderful day. Experiencing a flowing river in the middle of a desert is simply amazing. We stood up on our SUPs and enjoyed paddling down the Rio Grande River. We sat on our booties when the mild rapids pushed us down the river. When the water was calm but flowing we held on to each other’s SUP and chilled. We just floated in rhythm with nature. Silence.

The birds along the river were in mass. The people were nowhere to be seen. Unlike the Frio and other rivers, we floated and paddled along, just the two of us. Once or twice we heard a few voices. We waved at a few humans when we entered the city limits but the majority of the quest was Anna, me, the river, the sun and nature. I am still astounded at our experience. I understand that summer months and weekends bring people, loud radios, and empty beer cans floating alongside tubers but this day it was just us; an adventure that surpassed all of our other river journey experiences.

My hiking app has a kayaking category. We traveled 4.15 miles in one hour and 47 minutes. The highest elevation was 4,278 feet and the lowest 3,119 feet. The river’s elevation drop was 895 feet. We averaged 2.5 miles per hour with a max speed of 8.5 miles per hour. The temperature was 77 degrees with 10 percent humidity and a slight 3.1 mile per hour breeze.

There is so much New Mexico has to offer without the hustle and bustle of people. This specific adventure started with an RV road trip a few hours from Ruidoso. The experience of SUPing the Rio Grande in the desert is similar to hiking the Lincoln National Forest on Crest Trail or skiing Ski Apache in the Apache Bowl. Having Anna by my side, nature in the background, views in the foreground and humans, well, somewhere else, is tremendous. New Mexico and Ruidoso are wonderful.

Rich and Anna Dozier have traveled by backpacking, hiking, camping, biking and RVing throughout the western region of the United States. They have experienced adventures in eight countries during thirty plus years of marriage. When Rich and Anna’s journey brought them to Ruidoso they decided to make the village their home. The Dozier’s own and operate Midtown Mountain Campground & RV Park.