Rafting the Rio Grande

Almost back to the village

When we were planning our trip to Big Bend, I found a lot of outfitters in the area that led guided floats down the Rio Grande, for a pretty hefty fee.  We have a raft, so we decided to take it along and give it a go ourselves.   We did have a couple of logistical issues to sort out before we could get our river permit from the park.  I have a tendency to dream big and plan little, so this type of occurrence is all too common, but after a long drive to Terlingua for an extra life vest and a patch kit we were good to go.

Ready to conquer the river

We started out at the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead with the intention of doing a boomerang trip by paddling into the canyon and then gently floating our way out.

Santa Elena from the shore

The first thing we noticed when we got on the water was the wind was at our backs.  It was quickly pushing us upstream, so any plans of floating back down were immediately shot.

Upstream in Santa Elena

We only made it about a mile into the canyon before turning around. We usually push ourselves to our physical limits when we are living out a dream like this, but I think Matt was a little scared at the thought of getting stuck up the canyon with two little kids and a  pregnant lady in a raft.  I can’t blame him.  I was secretly relieved too that we turned around early after paddling harder than we ever wanted to on the return out of the canyon. I wouldn’t say it was a complete bust though, the view was splendid!

After that we headed back to the other side of the park to the hot springs to check out the river for the possibility of a float the next day.

Hot Springs Trail

While we were there we checked out more old ruins (the park is full of them)

exploring the ruins at the Hot Springs

HOt springs ruins

And took in the waters at the hot spring.

Taking the waters of the hot springs

Oddly, Minda said that swimming in the slimy springs was the highlight of her trip.

Taking on the rapids

The next morning we returned to the hot springs trail with the raft, ready to take on the roaring rapids.

Making faces

It turned out to be more of a leisurely float than anything.

Lunch on the river

We picnicked as we floated and all touched the walls of this canyon so that we would all be able to say we had crossed the border and reached Mexico.

The view from the raft

This float was really the highlight of the trip for me.  We didn’t have to paddle much at all, and we saw what I would say is some of the best scenery in the park.

Sunset over the Rio Grande

After the float we made it back up the nature trail to catch one last sunset over Big Bend.

Last night at Big Bend

One last Sunset at Big Bend

I will be nostalgic over these views forever.

Bye bye Big Bend

Hasta Luego Big Bend!  We hope to one day return and soak up some more of your majestic simplicity.  Back to the real world for now though, whatever that is.






Published by Jenny

I am a mindful plant eating mama to three little girls. I teach yoga in the Dallas area both to groups and one on one. I am obsessed with all things wellness and love helping others to feel their best!

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