Big Bend Photos: An Epic River Ride Through Santa Elena Canyon

It’s shameful y’all. Just downright freaking shameful.

It’s just a giant, great big shame that we’ve lived in Texas our entire lives and had never been down to the Big Bend! Granted, it’s a pretty good haul to get all the way down there (about an eight hour drive from our home up here in the Panhandle). And as has been mentioned many, many times, Big Bend is not “on the way” to anywhere. So it’s not as though you can just stop off for a visit on your way from point A to point B. And that’s absolutely the reason they don’t get too many visitors down in that neck of the Lone Star State. Again, a giant shame.

So we were beyond excited when we started planning this episode that we actually, finally, at long last had a reason to force ourselves to get in the car and drive down there. And as has also been said many, many, many times: we are so incredibly glad we did! It took us all of our 44 years to get to Big Bend National Park. And it was absolutely worth the wait (and the drive).

The highlight of our visit – as y’all might have seen in the episode itself – was the day we spent rafting the Rio Grande through Santa Elena Canyon with the folks from Far Flung Outdoor Center. Holy moly, man! What a spectacular, spectacular ride! And below we’ve posted a few more photos from the trip that we thought y’all might enjoy.

If you ever get the chance to visit Big Bend – which we certainly hope you do – make a trip through Santa Elena Canyon a priority! Although definitely keep in mind that, as mentioned, your ability to raft through the canyon depends entirely on the river and the weather conditions. We got really, really lucky that conditions were just perfect (aside from a few sprinkles of rain) on the day we visited. But when we went back a couple of months later, the river level had dropped to the point that rafting the canyon was impossible. So do some research before you head down! Holler at the folks from Far Flung and ask them how it’s looking. But regardless, if you get the chance to go, just go. And don’t miss out on a mind-blowing trip to Big Bend just because the river might be low.

So enjoy the photos! And if you’ve been lucky enough to visit Big Bend – and if you’ve got any stories or suggestions you can share about your trip – please leave ’em in the comments below!

Thanks y’all! Safe travels!

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  1. Kathy Erwin

    Just watched this episode on oeta! It was great!! I’m going to share this with my son and his family. I want to take the same raft trip. Thank you for all the information!

    • Thanks Kathy! You guys will love it! Such an amazing place. We went in early October and the river level was perfect, but it changes constantly of course. Let us know how it goes! Cheers and thanks for watching!

  2. Nic and DUSTY- you are invited to take a ride into the TONTO NATIONAL Forest and up and over 4 PEAKS in Arizona- if you liked Big Ben in Texas. Be ready!

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