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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Coordinates: 36°28′34″N 105°43′56″W / 36.47611°N 105.73222°W / 36.47611; -105.73222
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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is located in New Mexico
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Nearest cityTaos, New Mexico
Coordinates36°28′34″N 105°43′56″W / 36.47611°N 105.73222°W / 36.47611; -105.73222
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built1965 (1965)
ArchitectCharles E. Reed, Chief Bridge Engineer; Herman Tachau, Principal Bridge Designer
Architectural styleSteel deck truss
MPSHistoric Highway Bridges of New Mexico MPS
NRHP reference No.97000733[1]
NMSRCP No.1664
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJuly 15, 1997
Designated NMSRCPMay 9, 1997

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, locally known as the "Gorge Bridge" or the "High Bridge",[2] is a steel deck arch bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Taos, New Mexico, United States. Roughly 600 feet (180 m) above the Rio Grande, it is the seventh highest bridge in the United States.[3]


The bridge was started in 1963 and completed in 1965.[4] It was dedicated on September 10, 1965 and is a part of U.S. Route 64, a major east–west road. The span is 1,280 feet (390 m): two 300-foot-long (91 m) approach spans with a 600-foot-long (180 m) main center span.


In 1966 the American Institute of Steel Construction awarded the bridge "Most Beautiful Steel Bridge" in the "Long Span" category.[5]


A $2.4 million "facelift" to the bridge was completed in September 2012. This year-long project included repair and restoration work to the 50-year-old bridge including structural steelwork, a new concrete deck surface, new sidewalks, ramps, curbs, and gutters.[4]

Suicide problem[edit]

The bridge has been the site of numerous suicides. Authorities are studying ways to deter suicides, including the construction of suicide barriers, such as higher fencing, netting, or more security, and also hotline buttons, but cite money as a major reason no steps have been taken.[6][7][8]

Bridge height discrepancy[edit]

Although one of the highest bridges in the US, exactly how high the main span is above ground is up in the air. When it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1967, this distance was cited as 650’ over the Rio Grande.[9] And today that number is still widely used.[10][11] In 2010 however, the Highest Bridges Web Site came out with a substantially lower (565’) figure.[3] This height was most likely derived using a laser range finder but the site did not specifically reference it that way.[12] Wikipedia used this 565’ figure in 2012 when updating its List of bridges in the United States by height, but kept the 650’ (200 meter) figure for the bridge in its Rio Grande del Norte National Monument article. And then in 2015, a height of 600’ appeared on the scene. An author of a bridge book noted this discrepancy and recommended this compromise number be used until the matter was authoritatively resolved.[13] This 600’ figure then cropped up in a January 2016 Materials Performance Magazine white paper about the bridge's then just completed inspection by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

The bridge has appeared in several films, including Natural Born Killers, Twins, White Sands, She's Having a Baby, The Signal, Paul, Vacation, Wild Hogs, and Terminator Salvation.[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "High Bridge Overlook on US 64 northwest of Taos"
  3. ^ a b "Highest Bridges in the United States". Highest Bridges.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  4. ^ a b "Santa Fe New Mexican: Crews finish Rio Grande Gorge Bridge face-lift". Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  5. ^ Prize Bridge : 1960's Winners
  6. ^ State studies ways to prevent suicides at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
  7. ^ Catalogue of Tears, Part 2
  8. ^ "Suicide deterrents at Río Grande Gorge Bridge gain momentum". The Taos News. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  9. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". NPS.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  10. ^ "Rio Grande Gorge Bridge". Taos.org. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  11. ^ "Taos Gorge Bridge". Structurae.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  12. ^ "Highest Bridges in the US". HighestBridges.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  13. ^ Bausch, Frank A. (2015). The Bridges of North America; A Pictorial Travelogue, Amazon (Create Space) ISBN 978-0985351779
  14. ^ "New Mexico's Iconic Steel Bridge". Materials Performance.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  15. ^ "Rio Grande Gorge Bridge | A Landmark Site in Taos, New Mexico". Taos.org. Retrieved 2019-05-29.

External links[edit]