- The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is the longest bridge in New Mexico at a length of 1,280 feet.
- In 1966, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge won the award of “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the category of “Long Span” from the American Institute of Steel Construction.
- The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge has appeared in several movies.
New Mexico is a beautiful state in the American Southwest. It is the fifth-largest state in the United States and one of the most geographically diverse. New Mexico’s incredible geography features the Southern Rocky Mountains in the north, the Colorado Plateau in the center, and the Chihuahuan Desert in the south. The longest river in New Mexico is the mighty Rio Grande, whose name means “big river” in Spanish. The Rio Grande is 1,896 miles long, beginning in Southern Colorado and ending at its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. In Northern New Mexico, the Rio Grande runs through a massive canyon called the Rio Grande Gorge. The longest bridge in New Mexico spans this incredible gorge. This article explores the longest bridge in New Mexico, including its location, history, and nearby wildlife.
At 1,280 feet, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is the longest bridge in New Mexico.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Location
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is in Taos County of Northern New Mexico. Taos County is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost range of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Sangre de Cristo means “Blood of Christ” in Spanish. The county seat of Taos County is Taos, which has a population of 6,474. The Taos Pueblo, an ancient settlement of the Taos Puebloan people, is also located in Taos County.
Where is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Located on a Map?
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is located 10 miles northwest of Taos and 10 miles east of Carson National Forest. It is on U.S. Route 64, a major highway that runs from eastern Arizona to the coast of North Carolina. This massive bridge spans the Rio Grande Gorge, a 50-mile-long gorge running through Taos County. The gorge is incredibly deep, approximately 600 feet deep under the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and 800 feet deep south of the bridge. The amazing depth of the Rio Grande Gorge makes the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge the tenth-highest bridge in the United States.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge History
Construction of the longest bridge in New Mexico, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, lasted two years, from 1963-1965. Locals called the bridge “the Bridge to Nowhere” during its construction because there was initially not enough funding to build the road on one side.
In 1966, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge won the award of “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the category of “Long Span” from the American Institute of Steel Construction.
From 2011-2012, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge underwent a repair and restoration project. This project cost $2.4 million. Crews made repairs to the structural steelwork of the bridge, replacing the concrete deck surface, sidewalks, ramps, curbs, and gutters.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge has appeared in several movies. This long list includes Twins (1988), She’s Having a Baby (1988), White Sands (1992), Natural Born Killers (1994), Wild Hogs (2007), Terminator Salvation (2009), Paul (2011), The Signal (2014), and Vacation (2015).
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Wildlife
The mighty Rio Grande and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are home to an abundance of wildlife. Let’s explore a few of the exciting animals living near the longest bridge in New Mexico.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis)
The bighorn sheep is native to western North America, from British Columbia and Alberta to Baja California. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are one of the three subspecies of bighorn sheep. Bighorn sheep are incredible at navigating the steep, rugged terrain of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Additionally, these amazing animals frequent the Rio Grande Gorge.
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)
The pronghorn is native to western North America. It is the only surviving species of the family Antilocapridae and its closest living relatives are giraffes and okapis. Pronghorns can run up to 55 miles per hour, making them the fastest land mammal in North America.
Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta)
The brown trout is native to Europe but has been introduced across North America. Brown trout can be either anadromous or not. Anadromous fish are fish that migrate from the ocean up rivers to spawn. In a 2005 scientific study, researchers did not find any genetic differences between brown trout that migrate and those that do not.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com
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