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Rio Grande River in New Mexico

Trip Overview

Rio Grande River below Elephant Butte Dam

Canoeing or kayaking down the Rio Grande from the put in below Elephant Butte Dam is a popular activity during seasonal dam releases from the Dam and when Caballo Lake is high enough for easy takeout access. It's a great run of 10-12 miles depending upon takeout and is totally moving flat water except for a couple of dams.

Takeout at Caballo lake is at K-cove or further depending upon paddling ability and late afternoon up lake winds. Low conditions are releases of below 900 cfs and high are at 5,000 cfs and above. Good flows are at 2,000 to 2,500 cfs.

Water, because it comes from below the dam is cold. The run starts at Elephant Butte Dam State Park and finishes at Caballo Lake State Park.


Town of Truth or Consequences has all the range of facilities and Hot Springs! The State Park at Elephant Butte has a campground, Paseo Del Rio campground located at the put in point.


About 75 miles north of Las Cruces, NM.

The dam is located about 5 miles north of the town of Truth or Consequences.

From Albuquerque, drive on I-25 South through the Rio Grande Valley about 145 miles to Exit 83 for NM-181 / NM-195. Turn left at the end of the exit ramp and go under the freeway on NM-181 / US-85 for about 1/2 mile. Turn left onto NM-195. NM-195 is a bit twisty and with soft shoulders in the first few miles so watch your speed. This road will be followed into the town of Elephant Butte and through the town for just about a distance of 7.5 miles to the State Park Main Entrance on your left. Turning left a little further on past the turn for the Park Office/Visitor Denter on Route 179 will lead you to Route 51. Turn left to get to the Paseo Del Rio Campground. Turn right if you want to go to downtown Truth or Consequences.


Put in is at the Paseo Del Rio Campground.


Water Releases are programmed by the El Paso Office of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Chamber of Commerce for T or C:


Map in PDF form:

You can find marina information on this website:

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip