2 Day Santa Elena
This itinerary is intended as an example only. Your trip may vary somewhat depending on weather and river conditions, your guide and your group's interests. Itineraries may be subject to change, please call our office for additional information.
The Santa Elena Canyon two-day trip offers spectacular scenery with each bend in the Rio Grande as you float along at a moderate pace. Santa Elena Canyon is known for the famous Rock Slide Rapid as well as its sheer cavern-filled limestone walls. Beginning at Lajitas, this 19-mile trip is the most popular run on the river. As the river meanders toward the canyon entrance, you will see high mesas and beautiful side canyons that have abundant cactus and Chihuahuan Desert vegetation. Along your trip, you may see endangered peregrine falcons or wild burros in Mexico. Nothing can rival floating through the narrow canyon beneath walls that tower 1,500 feet overhead.
Day before trip: Pick up waterproof gear bags at our office in Study Butte. (If you arrive after we close, you can pack these in the morning.)
Day One: Check in at our office at 8:45 a.m. You should have your overnight things packed in our waterproof gear bags. Wear shoes and clothes that you do not mind getting wet. In warmer weather, you will need sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, a bathing suit or cutoffs, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt for sun protection, and sneakers or river sandals. We provide waterproof bags for your cameras and day bags for small personal items. You will not need watches, jewelry, or money on the river, so please lock these up before you check in.
At 9:00 a.m., your guide will meet you at our office and take you to the river to load and board the rafts. Morning highlights may include visiting a candellia wax processing camp, or a hike into an interesting side canyon to explore desert ecology and view unusual rock formations.
Lunch will be served on the river bank by your guide. After lunch you may stop to visit Indian petro glyphs near some beautiful twin canyons. You may also get to explore the remnants of an old Indian camp which has many metates (grinding holes).
In the afternoon, your guide will find a comfortable campsite for the evening and will start preparations for a dinner feast. You are free to hike, explore, or just relax and take a nap to the soothing river sounds at your camp.
After nightfall: After a delicious dinner, enjoy the warmth of the campfire and look up to see more stars than you ever thought possible. Look for the Milky Way “cloud” and, depending on the time of year, the planets Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, or Jupiter. A trip scheduled during the full moon will provide you with a glorious moonrise over the mountains and moonlight so bright you can almost read by it. You may sleep out under the stars or inside one of the cozy tents that we provide.
Day Two: Your day will begin with an optional hike while your guide prepares a pot of camp coffee and a hearty river-style breakfast. After breaking camp and repacking the rafts, you will float into the canyon entrance. As you drift deeper into Santa Elena Canyon, the sheer walls gradually rise. The level of excitement rises, as well, when you approach the Rock Slide. This Class IV rapid was created millions of years ago when a portion of the cliffs overhead collapsed and choked the river with house-sized boulders. Early explorers wrote about a painful portage around this great barrier, which they considered impossible to navigate. Their first camp, just beyond the Rock Slide, is called Camp Misery. Today, thanks to advanced boat design and our highly professional guides, you will experience only excitement and fun!
Other afternoon highlights takes on a dreamlike quality as you float quietly through the last few miles, passing the impressive Smuggler’s Cave on the way to the mouth of the canyon. As you look back, you will see the canyon walls reach their full 1,500-foot height.
Mid-afternoon: Soon after exiting the Canyon, you’ll be met by our shuttle vehicle for the scenic 70-mile return trip to Lajitas through Big Bend National Park, passing Castolon, with its colorful volcanic tuff formations. You’ll arrive back in Terlingua with plenty of time for dinner and a relaxing evening.
PRICE: For prices see our price list.
We provide waterproof bags for all your personal items. If you do not have a sleeping bag, sleeping pad or tent, you can rent them from us for $10 each plus tax per trip. All your meals are included, from lunch on the first day, all meals in between and ending with lunch on the last day. Our exquisite dinners can include steak, lasagna, fajitas or enchiladas and always includes wine and a dazzling dessert consisting of cheesecake, freshly made dutch oven cakes or cobblers. Sit back and gaze at the amazing scenery around you while your guides do the work. Then, brightly shining, the stars come out, leaving you to gaze at the brightest stars in Texas in awe.
For an overnight packing list, click here!
If you enjoy your trip, gratuities for your guide are always appreciated.