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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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One of Albuquerque’s most prized assets is its unmatched access and maintenance of the Rio Grande. The green vein of New Mexico flows through the heart of the city and supports vibrant communities as it makes its 1,896 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the best ways to experience Albuquerque’s Bosque is by paddleboarding, a relatively new arrival in New Mexico but one that offers unparalleled access and views to the river. 

The Paper. joined owner and lead guide Corey Spoores of MST Adventures, an outdoor outfitter based in Albuquerque that offers mountain and river adventures in the area, on a paddleboard adventure last week to experience, firsthand, the grandeur of the Rio Grande. “I think paddleboarding is one of the best ways to see and experience Albuquerque. It’s one of the best ways to experience the Rio Grande,” Spoores said. 

Photo Courtesy of MST Adventures

Spoores’ extensive experience was on full display during the entire tour. Navigating the deep water and occasional rapids south of the 550 Bridge in Bernalillo was a breeze under his tutelage. His easygoing yet confident approach to leading a group made the trip enjoyable and allowed everyone involved to soak in the natural beauty of the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

The songs of countless wild birds echoed around us as our group slowly traveled south. Ancient fallen cottonwoods broke from the river, rising from the deceptively deep river. In some spots the river can reach a depth of 14 feet. 

Traveling through the valley by the gentle current of the Rio Grande often made one forget about the communities and seemingly endless desert that lay just beyond the thick forest of cottonwoods. “My goal for everyone is to have fun, but also to experience the river in the metropolitan area and to see how close to nature you can actually be,” Spoores said. 

Nature is the centerpiece to the experience. The benefit of using a paddleboard to explore the Rio Grande is its accessibility compared to a traditional kayak or canoe. The design of a paddleboard displaces significantly less water than a kayak. With the Rio Grande’s often inconsistent water levels, a paddleboard is one of the best options to explore.  

“You don’t hear the city sounds. You don’t have all that outside stimulus,” Spoores said. Despite traveling through the most densely populated areas of the state, especially through Albuquerque, the sounds of traffic and other stimuli are nearly nonexistent. The distant roar of a semi may briefly interrupt the gentle lull of the countless birds and soft gurgling of the river, but only briefly.  

“If you are a water-lover or if you’re new to it, you should definitely do it,” Spoores said. 

Check out MST’s website or call them at (505) 717-2526 to book a tour.

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