Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-24-2012   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 4
Big Bend NP - Lower Canyons

Has anyone run the lower canyons in Big Bend? What's the recent news on safety of the US/Mex border?

I'm trying to dig up some helpful first hand accounts to decide if it's a wise idea or not ... I've been told by some it's asking for trouble, people have been shot, BBNP is ranked 3rd most dangerous national park, etc. All these stories have come from non-boaters, so any thoughts from the community are greatly appreciated.


ktmack6 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #2
Preston H.'s Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 94
I have run that stretch, but IIRC it is not in the park, rather just downstream. We had a great 9-day trip, which is a very slow pace. We camped and hiked almost exclusively on the Mexican side, which is where all the best spots are. We encountered 2 groups: another canoe tripping American group and a group of 10 illegals plus coyote. The latter were very nice, and we ended up sharing a meal and some after dinner smoking.

There was a guest ranch somewhere near La Linda on the American side. The owner had all the latest news about what was going on in the surrounding country. I suggest getting local info before planning a trip. I was there in 2002 and it's likely that things have changed.

Preston H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #3
Preston H.'s Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 94
Here's an old thread with some more info. Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande....

I still haven't gotten to writing a TR!
Preston H. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #4
JCKeck1's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,471
Send a message via AIM to JCKeck1
Yo. Thanks for all of the advice from everyone last year. Here's my trip report:

The Journey explores the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande Jackson Kayak – Whitewater, Recreational, Touring and Fishing kayaks

In summary, go for it. I didn't see a soul and the cougar tracks on the Mexican side scared me more than anything. Realize that it's so remote that you definitely won't see drug runners because you can't move any significant weight. If there is anyone out there, it's people trying to immigrate and they are trying to avoid you at least as much as you'd rather not see them. The rangers at BBNP said there's never been a problem and were only concerned because I was headed solo into the wilderness.

My advice: take jeans and a cowboy hat. The Texas torns and sun are the reason for the legendary cowboy clothes. My fancy Patagonia fleece didn't stand a chance. If you've got other specific questions, fire away.
JCKeck1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
I worked down there for a few seasons and like jckeck says, you never see anyone. It is just tooo remote. You could call some of the outfitters down there also to see what they think and maybe to help with shuttles.
salsasean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #6
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 13
I paddled it a few years ago. Plan on getting on the river early to beat the headwinds and be off water by 1-2. Mexican side is where it is at for most camps. I didn't see much of anyone other than two groups b/c of spring break; one was from Texas Tech and the other from Ohio I think (can't remember). We paddled OC-1s but OC-2s work just as well. You will be spending a lot of time hugging the cane to stay out of the wind but if you get to camp early it is a lot more fun to watch the cliff swallows play in it. We did a low water run which was real nice actually - the water was often clear and a lot of it was from spring runoff. There was fresh water on river - read the Aulbach book. When the water is low - swimming is kinda nice at times - never expected to see the rio crystal clear but it happens.

I highly recommend ('Talkn') Ted Thayer for shuttle (He lives in the old RXR station in Marathon) - best to pick him up and have him drop you off in Blackgap (or wherever you choose to putin) - cheaper that way. Oh - there were two kids that blazed by us at the warm springs - they had two five gallon buckets tied to an OC2 w/ a bunch of beer in the bottom - they missed the takeout Dryden and wound up in Langtry. I saw them at takeout - Ted helped them out and he was waiting for us exactly when we told him we would be there. I asked him not to bother but he insisted for some reason - goofy guy - funny stories and entertaining ride...

There be some Mt Lyons down there - you will see fresh scat - they will watch you but doubt you will see them but their dens are easy enough to find.

Do not bring inflatable unless there is a lot of water

I am not sure about safety atm - it can be kinda sketchy down here but most of the problems are around Del Rio. There were some problems around Falcon lake but anything going on around the lower canyons - they don't want to draw attention to. You will check in at Panther Junction - they will give you a customs form to fill out and mail in when you are done. You are allowed to go on the Mexican side but not to 'populated places' (don't ask - doesn't make any sense to me either). But, check Boquias b4 u go and have a new passport - they are opening the crossing up again w/ a camera to another location and you con go get a cerveza

Good luck - I loved that trip - I may never do it again but another trip worth looking into is the Pecos; there are even less people there - like no-one - ever
Wharf_Dawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #7
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 13
The problems are around Nuevo Laredo not Del Rio - sorry for the miss type - wouldn't let me edit...
Wharf_Dawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2012   #8
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 4
Thanks Preston, JC, Salsa and Wharf_dog - awesome info ... if anyone else has recommendations of where to put in, shuttle, camp, the usual tips that make a trip pop please throw them my way. Looking at sometime in the next month or so as far as weather and flows go.

ktmack6 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2012   #9
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
You can take inflatables --we took a super puma down at very low water and aside for oaring for days--no problems.
wildh2onriver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2012   #10
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Qualify low water - I put in at 125 and it was maybe 550 by the time we reached Dryden - I suppose a IK may be alright but the wind in a Puma must have been brutal! I used a Mohawk Shaman - the run really is perfect for canoes if you are into that - I spent A Lot of time paddling on the inside cutting the wind... sure you could pack lite and take a raft I guess. Having rafted some of the other canyons and canoed them as well - I would say by for (for me) the easier softer route is the canoe hands down; some rivers are just made for them. If the water really is moving enough to combat the headwinds I suppose the raft would be the clear choice...

Wharf_Dawg is offline   Reply With Quote

big bend

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Rafting in Big Bend NP Swobo Whitewater Rafting 7 01-10-2012 11:12 AM
Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande... JCKeck1 Whitewater Kayaking 16 12-16-2010 03:00 PM
Big Bend for Beginners? monkey Whitewater Kayaking 2 08-11-2008 02:31 PM
Big Bend Fuzzy Whitewater Kayaking 5 09-12-2007 01:06 PM
Big Bend rivergod Whitewater Kayaking 5 11-17-2004 10:02 PM

» Classified Ads
whitewater kayaks

posted by leatherneck

2012 Fluid Solo Expedition kayak. Boat is in good shape....

Demo 2016 Jackson 2 Fun

posted by 4CRS

Used 2016 Jackson 2Fun whitewater kayak - lightly used demo...

Jackson Karma (Medium)

posted by Paddling Life

Brand Spankin' New 2016 Jackson Karma Creek kayak!

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:12 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.