Rio Grande Canoe Running in Texas

Forming the border between the United States and Mexico, the Rio Grande River passes through classic canyon country as it flows southeast through Big Bend National Park. While the Class-IV upper stretch of the Rio Grande near the New Mexico border (the Taos Box area) demands advanced skills, most of the Rio Grande is a relatively gentle float ideal for first-time canoe-trippers. Overall, a journey down the Rio Grande through Big Bend and the lower canyons is one of the best novice canoe adventures in America.
You'll enjoy solitude, spectacular scenery, and fine weather. On a week-long Rio Grande trip, you will spend most of your time within the confines of Big Bend Park. The scenery here is rugged and colorful. And though there is a fair amount of tourist activity in Big Bend Park, particularly in Mariscall and Boquillas Canyons, the lower canyons are little-traveled. As a rule, you will have few encounters on the river with other boaters, except in the busiest of holiday periods.

Practically Speaking
The best time of year to canoe the Rio Grande is May and June; paddlers should avoid the low water period in February. The water is a comfortable 65-70 degrees, and air temperatures are comfortable during the day. Almost all of the river is suitable for novice paddlers. After a couple days of practice on the quieter sections, even first-timers should be able to handle all the rapids from Big Bend southward. And most commercial trips offer raft support, so you can elect to skirt any sections that are too tough.

Published: 8 Jul 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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