Queuco River

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Quick Facts

General Description

The Rio Queuco River is a tributary of the Rio Biobio in the Biobio Region, Region XIII of Chile. The Queuco joins the Biobio River just below the Ralco hydroelectric reservoir. The Rio Queuco lies in the heart of the Alto Biobio with it headwaters coming from the melting glaciers of Volcan Copahue and Volcan Callaqui, both of which are still active. The Queuco River drains the northern half of the National Reserve Ralco.

The Queuco River Valley lies in the heartland of the Chile’s pre-Columbian ancestral Indian Territory. The local people are called Pechuence and are of Mapuche lineage. For many years they lived an isolated existence in this region of the Andes but were confronted with the modern world when Endesa, a Spanish owned hydroelectric company, began building two giant hydroelectric plants on the Biobio River. The Pechuence lost the battle with Endesa on the Biobio River and are now confronted with plans to dam the Queuco in two places. They are now turning to tourism to boost their economy and preserve their cultural heritage.

When visiting the Alto Biobio Region be aware that you are in Mapuche Indian Territory and a very special part of Chile.


This river is not often run. Scout for hazards in the river like downed trees and rocks from new road construction. The area is also prone to landslides which have cut off the upstream communities from the rest of Chile for weeks at a time. Landslides can introduce dangerous obstructions and rock sieves. Don't let your guard down even on a class III stretch.

River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

There are no streamflow gauges on this river. You will need to determine a safe water level during your pre-run scout.

Rapid Descriptions


Put-Ins and Take-Outs

  • Put-in: Put-in roadside, about five miles (8 km) upstream of the Queuco Bridge (Puente Queuco).
  • Take-out: Take-out at the Queuco Bridge (Puente Queuco) just before the village of Ralco.


Head south on the Pan American Highway (Ruta 5) and take the Highway east to Santa Barbara (Ruta Q61R). Continue on Ruta Q61R toward the town of Ralco along the Biobio River. Just before you get to Ralco you will cross the Puente Queuco which is the take-out for the run.

Places to Stay / Campgrounds

Camping is available in the Nacional Reserva Ralco and in the Queuco River Valley above the town of Cauñicú. The road along the Rio Queuco leads to the Copahue Pass over the Andes to Argentina and gets some traffic. Other than that there are sporadic camping areas and cabins to rent along the Biobio River. If you decide to camp riverside on your own, it is recommended that you camp near someone’s house and have them watch your stuff while you are off on the river.

Maps & Outside Links




MOP Scalable Road Map

Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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