Rio Grande Trail
The Rio Grande Trail (RGT) is a proposed 500 mile long-distance route that will traverse New Mexico, from the Colorado to Texas borders. Originally conceived of in 2004, State legislation (House Bill 563), sponsored by representative Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces was approved in 2015 to fund the RGT planning process. The proposed route will pass through tribal lands, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, state parks and private land.
Part of the long process of creating the trail includes the recent formation of the Rio Grande Trail Commission. The trail commission has broad representation from tribes, land and river advocates, local and state governments, and other groups, including the Southern New Mexico Trail Alliance (SNMTA). The commission, including SNMTA board member Peter Mattox, was appointed by Governor Martinez and is tasked with researching all aspects of making the Rio Grande Trail a reality and reporting back to the state legislature. This includes coordinating with many stakeholders, landowners and land managers, outdoor enthusiasts, funding sources, and route planning.
On July 28, 2015 Governor Susana Martinez designated the first twenty-three miles of the trail. These miles were located on existing trails within six state parks: Elephant Butte Lake, Caballo Lake, Leasburg Dam, Mesilla Valley Bosque, Percha Dam and the Rio Grande Nature Center. Other sections of the proposed RGT already exist along the Bosque in Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos. The existing sections comprise roughly 10 percent of the route. These sections can be connected using existing ditch banks, acequias, bike paths and possible new trail development.
Like other long-distance trails such as the Appalachian, Continental Divide Trail and Grand Enchantment Trails, the Rio Grande Trail will face many challenges but ultimately connect communities, natural resources, and beauty to give hikers, bikers, equestrians and tourists a unique way to experience the Land of Enchantment.
If you are interested in helping make the Rio Grande Trail, contact SNMTA or the Rio Grand Trail Commission.