The area around Chama is “wild.” It is home to some of the best fly fishing in the west. It is a favorite for birdwatchers. Hikers have access to a multitude of trail options. While the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad often tries to steal the spotlight, the hidden gems of the area deserve your attention.
A Fly Fisherman’s Paradise
The Rio Chama as well as other local trout streams and lakes are diverse fishing spots. Because the rivers flow for so many miles, there is a good population of large wild brown and rainbow trout. Also, because of the length and diversity of the river, there is always a spot that is fishing well. The climate offers for fishing opportunities year-round yet fall tends to be the best time of year. The fish are looking to gain weight for the winter months so they take advantage of every opportunity for food.
Fishing areas includes the Rio Chama as it runs through the 50,000 Chama River Canyon Wilderness area and below the Abiquiú dam. Of course, we hope you catch (and release) something. Even if you do not, the scenery is unrivaled and you may spot lots of other wildlife along the remote river. Fishing licenses are available online through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Traveling with fishing gear can be cumbersome and sometimes it is just best to go with someone who knows the area. Outfitters such as Land of Enchantment Guides provide all of the gear you need for a day on the water. That includes rods, reels, wading gear, and custom-tied flies. Full-day trips include lunch and drinks; hors d’oeuvres and drinks are provides on half-day trips. The guides are familiar with the area and happy to provide tips and techniques to novice and veteran fishermen alike. Honestly, it is the ultimate all-inclusive package.
Outdoor Activities Abound at the Sargent Wildlife Area
The Edward Sargent Wildlife Area boasts 20,209 acres north of Chama in Rio Arriba County. The area extends all the way to the Colorado state line and features high aspen meadows, alder-lined streams, oak groves, and grassy meadows. If you are looking for time away from it all, Outside Magazine has noted the Edward Sargent Wildlife Area as having some of the most secluded hiking trails in the country. No vehicles are allowed beyond the parking lot so hikers can find themselves truly in the midst of nature once they follow the trails deep into the park.
The Wildlife Area stays true to its name as the home to deer, elk, and other wildlife. An interpretative exhibit on the life history of elk can be found near the parking lot because it is home to one of the largest elk herds in the state. The exhibit is located along a 0.9 mile out and back trail. For a longer hike, check out the 3.5-mile loop trail that traverses through the Rio Chamito Valley.
The Edward Sargent Wildlife Area is also a favorite for birdwatchers. Recent reported sightings include calliope hummingbird, ladder-backed woodpecker, mountain chickadee, and golden-crowned kinglet.
Like the Rio Chama above, it is a favorite place for anglers looking to go home with a story about their catch. It is one of the largest properties managed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
Where to Stay in Near Chama
Be sure to stay at one of our member inns while visiting the Chama area. We highly recommend these three:
The Parlor Car Bed and Breakfast in Chama is directly across the street from the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The inn seeks to reflect the history of parlor cars with reverence and admiration.
The Victorian in Chama is a quaint and intimate bed and breakfast. The outdoor hot tub is a perfect place to relax and ease sore muscles after a day fishing or exploring.
The Grand Hacienda in Abiquiu is an adult-only boutique inn featuring three guest rooms. The estate overlooks the Abiquiu Lake.