The water was flowing so quick that we barely paddled at all- giving us a nice, relaxed ride to enjoy the horses and other wildlife along the banks. We took out of the river, made our way down River Road and threw on the always-much-anticipated clean dry car clothes. Lunch was provided on the bank of the Rio Grande right before we went into the canyon itself. When you pass the ranger station on the west side of the park from Terlingua, there is a nearby UNPAVED, painful, gravel road that takes you 13 miles to the Santa Elena Canyon overlook. Colorado Canyon at higher water levels also makes a great ‘shorter’ day trip and is suitable for the young ones. Cottonwood Campground is a quiet desert oasis in the southwestern corner of Big Bend National Park. i have heard that rafting trips are the best for exploring it. You must squeeze it into your trip. The trip starts at the Santa Elena hiking trail, where we carry our boats to the river and paddle upstream with stops for exploring and a picnic lunch. 1983 Press Photo Man kayaks on river rapids - pia10759. Far Flung really have their act together and everyone (small group - 7 guests, 2 guides) had a great day out on the river. Santa Elena Canyon River Trips Santa Elena Canyon is considered the premier river trip in the park, with 1500 ft. sheer canyon walls of limestone rising up from the waters edge. 1983 Press Photo Rafters stalled in Santa Elena Canyon at Big Bend National Park. Santa Elena Canyon Without a doubt, Santa Elena is the most photographed canyon in Big Bend. Big Bend National Park SANTA ELENA CANYON. Type of watercraft used is dependent on river level, large rafts are only available on higher levels, generally late summer or early fall. Santa Elena is easily the most spectacular site to visit in Big Bend. A lot of road work was going on to repair the damages. There are other rental shops in town, but we felt these guys had the most extensive equipment for an overnight trip vs. just a day trip. At their full height, the walls of Santa Elena tower 1500 feet above the Rio Grande and are truly a sight to behold. Rockslide is usually a boulder garden, making it a super technical rapid with many sharp turns and eddies that can suck you in quick. Colorado Canyon is the first of the big canyons on the Rio Grande, and therefore has walls not quite as majestic as those found downriver, particularly in Santa Elena and Mariscal Canyons or the Lower Canyons. I would put this on the top of my list of favorite hikes at Big Bend. Rafting Santa Elena Canyon. The drive down River Road is pretty slow moving (relative to the highway) and took us close to an hour to drop the car off and drive back to the put-in. We stopped for a beer break and hung out in a small cave/overhang on the bank. From left, Toni Chapman; the writer, Dave the guide, and behind Dave, Rafe Gibbs. The drive is approximately 30 miles in length. Be the first to leave a review! Lajitas Put-in: $55. Santa Elena Canyon is also accessible by car on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which has helped to make it the most popular canyon in Big Bend. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your We also paid them for a private shuttle at both ends of the trip. Easy access, and strikingly beautiful. It is a relatively easy hike and the end result is totally worth it! read more. It also allowed for me to take a stab at steering the raft. The Santa Elena Canyon, with rapids up to Class IV if the water level is high enough, can be run in a single nine-hour day. We finally took off on the much-anticipated adventure. Raft through Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park- a 21 mile stretch of the most beautiful part of the world. 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