Rio Grande Gorge Bridge: Your Complete Guide

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View of rio grande gorge bridge

In the middle of nowhere of north-central New Mexico, you’ll come along a stretch of highway between the Carson National Forest and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The Rio Grande forms a deep gorge in this region, and to cross over it, you have to take the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. 

It’s like a work of art in the middle of nowhere. Let’s look at this stunning bridge and learn more about what you can expect when you visit!

Where Is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge?

The steel deck arch bridge known as the “Gorge Bridge” or the “High Bridge” among locals stretches across the Rio Grande Gorge outside Taos, New Mexico.

Travelers along the east-west US Route 64 will drive across the bridge as they travel from Taos to Tres Piedras in north-central New Mexico.

How High Is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge?

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge spans 1,280 feet with a 600-foot center span. However, the height is a bit of a controversy. In 1967 when the bridge made it on the National Register of Historic Places, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was 650 feet above the river. 

However, in 2010, the Highest Bridges Web Site remeasured the height, and the resulting figure was much lower at 565 ft.

The tourism site for Taos, New Mexico, claims the bridge is the second-highest bridge on the US Highway System and the fifth-highest bridge in the country. It sticks to the 650-foot measurement from 1967.

View of rio grande gorge bridge

The History of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

The construction took about two years between 1963 and 1965, with the dedication on Sept. 10, 1965.

It wasn’t long after its construction that the bridge received the award for the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the “Long Span” category by the American Institute of Steel Construction. 

Because of its stunning scenery and beautiful steel construction, the bridge has appeared in several Hollywood films over the years.

In 2012, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was part of a $2.4 million restoration project. A new sidewalk, new deck surfaces, and other repairs were made to the structure. 

Today, visitors can park on the west side and stroll along the walking trail along the gorge’s rim.

How to Get to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Take US Highway 64/New Mexico State Road 522 north from Taos for approximately 3.5 miles. At the four-way intersection where US Highway 64 turns to the left and New Mexico State Road 522 continues straight, turn left to stay on US Highway 64.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge will be about 8 miles down this highway. Once you cross the bridge, you can park on either side of the road if you’d like to get out and walk around.

From Tres Piedras, take US Highway 64 East for about 20 miles. The parking lot will be on both sides of the highway before the bridge.

Can You Walk Across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge?

If you’re brave enough to traverse over the deep gorge below, you can park on the west side of the bridge and take the walking trail.

The bridge is out in the middle of nowhere, though. Additionally, it’s not a pedestrian bridge you might take to get to work or grab a bite to eat. 

Unfortunately, suicides have become a problem here. In recent years, authorities have discussed ways to deter these tragedies by installing higher fencing, adding more security, or installing hotline buttons. However, nothing has been implemented to date.

Pro Tip: Are you looking for an RV to live in full-time? Then take a look at these helpful tips before you make your purchase!

What Is the Tallest Bridge in the US?

The Royal Gorge Bridge near Cañon City, Colorado, is the tallest in the United States. It rises 955 feet above the Arkansas River. 

In fact, it was the highest bridge in the world from 1929 until 2001, when the Liuguanghe Bridge in China was completed. Today, China’s Duge Bridge, completed in 2016, is the world’s tallest bridge at 1,854 feet. China actually has eight of the top 10 highest bridges in the world.

View of the royal gorge bridge in Colorado

What Is the Longest Bridge in the US?

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana is the longest bridge in the country. It’s actually two parallel bridges that cross Lake Pontchartrain. One of the two bridges is 23.83 miles long. 

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has always been a toll road. Today, it costs $5 in cash to cross from the North Shore for southbound traffic. There is no toll on the other end to alleviate congestion near New Orleans.

Keep in Mind: Can You Drive an RV Over the Longest Bridges in the USA? Let’s take a look!

View of The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge in the United States

Enjoy Stunning Views from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge isn’t just another steel bridge. It’s a work of art. The beauty of the arches and steelwork against the red and green landscape of New Mexico is stunning. 

So the next time you travel north of Santa Fe, take a detour and venture down US Highway 64. Park your car and get out to see the bridge up close, even if you don’t want to take the walking trail.

Have you ever crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in north-central New Mexico?

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