Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Scenic Big Bend Canyon is Easy Float for Rafters

March 6, 2009, 12:17 pm

Garry slipped his raft into the slender entrance to Santa Elena Canyon as easily as a key into a lock. Adana followed, and then Mike. Our three-raft flotilla had begun an overnight trip last October through the most spectacular and most accessible canyon on the Rio Grande.

From headwaters high in the Colorado Rockies, the 1,885-mile-long river bisects New Mexico before turning eastward and for 1,250 miles forming the U.S.-Mexico border. For rafters and canoeists, spectacular Santa Elena Canyon is perhaps the best nine miles of the river.

We put in at Lajitas just upstream of the Big Bend National Park boundary, and floated in leisure between low river banks thick with reeds and brush, listening to the sound of flowing water and the calls, twitters and trills of birds that live in that bird-friendly habitat.