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Rio Grande - The Lower Canyons

Contact Info
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834

Phone:
432-477-2251
Basics
Location:
Big Bend National Park
Class:
Class II - IV
River Length
83-137 miles
Time:
5-10 days
Season:
Year-round

Description

The Lower Canyons are daunting. A typical route down this portion of the Rio Grande takes anywhere from five to ten days and the rapids range from Class II to Class IV in intensity. Some of those Class IV rapids are so intense that to have rafted them is a serious mark of pride.

Even without the rapids, this is strenuous, as the shortest river run floats from the put-in at Heath Canyon to Dryden Crossing, a distance of 83 miles. You can raft all the way to Forster’s Ranch and the end of the Wild and Scenic section of the Rio Grande, if you’re willing to paddle 119 miles. People sometimes go even further, to Langtry, but the weir (or dam) at Forster’s Ranch is too dangerous to raft and making a portage around it is essential.

Rafting

The Rio Grande is more than a river, it is a boundary between countries. But even so, it remains remote and lonely, the Chihuahuan Desert surrounding it closely as opposed to city after city.

River Details

Setting:
Desert Canyon
Class:
Class II - IV
River Length
83-137 miles
Time
5-10 days
Season:
Year-round
Nearest Town
Del Rio
Guides Available?
No
Camping Info
Camping permitted, mostly primitive
Additional Details
You may want to call Heath Canyon ahead of time at (432) 376-2235 to make sure of permissions and conditions.

For permission to take out at Dryden Crossing, call (432) 940-3609.

Maravillas, at Black Gap WMA, is an additional put-in, 10 miles down river of Heath Canyon. There''s a $12 fee per person and you will need to buy the access pass at Barton Warnock or online. This is closed during hunting season.

Map + Directions

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