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Old 01-04-2012   #1
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 11
Rafting in Big Bend NP

Does anybody have info on the various stretches through Big Bend NP? Rapid descriptions, times of the year for optimal flows (for rafts and cats cats), just general info. The ol' Google search did not turn up too many sources.

p.s. Was thinking about late April early May.

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Old 01-04-2012   #2
-, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 101
When I lived in Texas I considered doing the same thing. I asked around to some contacts and was reccomended by many to call the Ranger office down there. I called them up and they were helpful. I cannot remember who i talked with, but it was actually one of the law enforcement Rangers who had some great info on good river trips.

In my experience, if you call the main numner and ask to talk to one of their law guys and tell them why your calling, and just be cool they will share some great info.

I never got the time to do the trip, but I have heard there are some great scenic stretches.

Good luck, and stay safe down there, it is on the border.......


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Old 01-04-2012   #3
DoubleYouEss's Avatar
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 577
Swobo, I have family that lives/works in the park. PM me and I can put you in touch with the right people and give you a ton of beta on the area.
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Old 01-04-2012   #4
openboat's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 227
I ran Santa Elena Canyon (the westernmost one) around New Years about 10 years ago in a canoe with a bunch of buddies. Had a great lady out of Terlingua who ran a very reasonable shuttle for us. Not sure of her company's name. Camped at Lajitas prior to put-in, spent 3 days in the canyon, then ran the state park upstream from Lajitas for a day. Great topo map available for the area. Rafting may be difficult if water is low. The Rio Grande from the US doesn't really reach the border any more, to my knowledge. All sucked out by irrigation in New Mexico. Water on the border comes out of Mexico.
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Old 01-04-2012   #5
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 176
Huh, I was just looking for the same info a couple weeks ago. This is the best web site I found:

Rio Grande, Texas

Lower canyons looked the most interesting to me.
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Old 01-05-2012   #6
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
I've ran the Lower Canyons in a super puma at low water. Great run, very isolated, most of the camps are on the Mexican side. All flat water with no current except for an occasional 2-3- tight and rocky rapid. I want to say the flow was around 250 cfs? Have to check my notes.
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Old 01-05-2012   #7
DoubleYouEss's Avatar
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 577
One thing to keep in mind down there is that the spring is when the water is the lower, their water like mentioned above comes from the Mexican side in anticipation for the monsoon rains. I was there in October 2010 and the water was pretty high ~5000cfs, local outfitters were doing 2 and 3 day trips in 1 day. When I went down again in March of last year, and ran Santa Elena, Mariscal, San Vicente, and Hot Springs Canyons at roughly 100cfs, floatable in a kayak or canoe (but definitely not a raft).
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Old 01-10-2012   #8
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Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,471
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The best beta for in the Park is the Southwest Paddler site as posted above. I did the lower canyons just downstream of the Park last X-mas. Trip Report here:

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


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big bend, rafting

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