Annual Rio Grande raft race and festival set for June 14th

The Southwest Environmental Center’s 17th annual Raft the Rio will be held on Saturday, June 14, 2014 on the Rio Grande, near Las Cruces. The family-friendly event is open to individuals and teams of all ages willing to get wet and have fun. Creativity and the use of discarded materials in building rafts are highly encouraged.

Download registration materials here.

The three-mile rafting adventure will begin at La Llorona Park beneath the Picacho Street bridge, and end just upstream from the Calle del Norte Bridge (“Mesilla Bridge”). There will be refreshments, food vendors and music at the Finish Line Festival.

Prizes will be awarded to homemade boats in the following categories:

  • First to finish
  • Least likely to finish (must be floating at start of race)
  • Best use of recycled materials
  • Best theme (most thorough application of a theme to vessel and crew)
  • Champion of the River (best promotes appreciation for the Rio Grande) 
  • Most Spirited (most enthusiastic crew)
  • Best mascot (a new category this year—actually an old category brought back!)
There will be two divisions: Kids and Open. Prizes will be awarded in both divisions. The Kids Division race begins at 10 a.m. sharp, followed by the Open Division at 10:15. To be eligible for the Kids’ Division, at least half the sailors on a boat must be under 13 years of age.

The river will be running nicely, due to releases of irrigation water from Caballo Reservoir. Teams may register at the starting line beginning at 8:00 a.m., or in advance by contacting the Southwest Environmental Center. You can download registration materials here, but you have to register in person at SWEC (M-F, 9-6) or at the starting area on the day of the event beginning at 8 am.

The entry fee is $15 per raft in advance (or $25 on race day), plus $5 for each crew member 13 years and older (after the first two). Motorized craft are not allowed. New Mexico law requires that all participants wear personal flotation devices. In keeping with the environmental spirit of the event, participants are encouraged to minimize their purchase of new materials for making rafts.

Want to help? We need lots of volunteers for this event, from parking control to registration to safety boats. Contact if you're interested.

Sponsors of this year’s event include Vescovo Toyota of Las Cruces, Positive Energy Solar, and NMSU Outdoor Recreation. Additional sponsorships are available. (More information: see below).

Help spread the word! Post or send this event flyer to your friends and networks. 

Sponsors needed for fun-filled event!

Do you own a green-minded business or are you a green-minded individual?  Consider sponsoring this event and supporting our conservation work. Contact Kevin at 575 522-5552 to request a sponsor information packet.

See Ken Stinnett's photos of past Raft the Rios here.