Upper Rio Grande


In the high country of the Southwest, a rare trout swims in the cold, clear waters of the Rio Grande River system. It’s one of America’s most beautiful fish, and it’s priceless to the anglers of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico who know that when they’re casting to Rio Grande cutthroat trout, they’re fishing some of the most pristine country left in this arid corner of the nation.

Today, thanks to  “progress,” these iconic fish are relegated to secret headwater tributaries that are carefully guarded by backcountry anglers. Non-native wild rainbow, brown and brook trout also present great opportunities for anglers in the upper and lower reaches of the basin, helping drive local economies in some of the region’s most scenic landscapes. TU is committed to long-term survival of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, as well as protecting, in perpetuity, angling opportunities for wild trout in the iconic Rio Grande basin.


TU’s vision is to protect, reconnect and restore watersheds throughout the upper Rio Grande basin so native and wild trout thrive, anglers have more and higher-quality fishing opportunities, and local residents and visitors alike experience and enjoy a healthier, richer river that will be resilient for generations to come.

For years, Trout Unlimited has been involved in a campaign to protect about 60 miles of the Rio Grande del Norte and 500,000 acres of surrounding area through a National Conservation Area or a National Monument.

In the future, TU plans on restoring and reconnecting miles of historic habitat for native cutthroat trout and working with ranchers, farmers and municipalities to improve stream flows.

Rio Grande del Norte



Legislation has been reintroduced to designate the Rio Grande Del Norte as a National Conservation Area, but has yet to be passed. The Obama administration is currently considering designating the area as a National Monument, which would put equal protections on the area.

Author of this Page

Shauna Sherard
Communications Director/Sportsmen’s Conservation Project

Rio Costilla
Upper Pecos
Rio Hondo
Columbine Creek
Rio Grande
Rio Grande del Norte

Wild Rainbow Trout

Wild Rainbow Trout

Eastern Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Wild Brown Trout

Wild Brown Trout

Climate Change
Invasive Species
Oil + Gas Drilling
Roads + Development
Risks to Fishing 

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