Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to go on the river? Anytime! Please note that the last twenty years in the Big Bend have been very dry. This creates a low water situation which sometimes eliminates the use of rafts. We have a fleet of Old Town canoes that we use during the low water periods. Our guides are expert instructors, so even novices can learn to canoe and enjoy one of our spectacular canyons. The water tends to be very mild and more lake-like with few rapids during lower water. The better chance for rafting is in our rainy season during the months of July, August and September. We ask that you be flexible when making your reservation. We will try to do the trip you want. Please know we are extremely busy during the month of March.
Where exactly is the Big Bend? The Big Bend is located in southwest Texas. Approximately 250 miles southeast of El Paso, TX. and an almost equal distance southwest of the Midland-Odessa Area. The Big Bend is a loose term describing a vast amount of land. Including the towns marking the northern boundary of Van Horn, Balmorhea, and Fort Stockton, thousands of acres of land waiting for you to explore lie within the beautiful Big Bend country.
How can I get to the Big Bend? The nearest major airport to Big Bend is either El Paso, TX. or Midland-Odessa, TX. Most folks that fly in rent a car at the airport and drive to Big Bend. A bus route on Greyhound or a train ride on Amtrak go through Alpine, TX. For directions to Big Bend, you can also contact our office or get information through the Big Bend National Park website.
Is there an age limit? Families with small children, 4 years old and 80-year old youngsters will enjoy the Rio Grande. Please Note: The Santa Elena Canyon raft trip has a minimum age requirement of 8 years old.
What should I bring and wear? Warm weather: Bathing suits under a t-shirt and quick dry shorts. You will need shoes that will stay on your feet. Old tennis shoes, water shoes or strap on sandals are recommended. Sunscreen, water bottle, hat or sun visor (the wider the brim, the more it protects), sunglasses, eyeglass strap, and no jeans are recommended as well. You may bring a camera if you like. We do have dry bags to put your things in. Cool weather: Wool socks and synthetic clothing such as micro fleece and old tennis shoes. Do not wear jeans, sweats or any cotton items. For overnight and multi-day trips please see our suggested overnight packing list.
What happens if it rains? We recommend bringing your own rain gear. We do provide ponchos or you can by rain gear in our retail store.
What are the prices? Click our price list. Look for the trip you would like on the left. Then look at the top for the number of people. Please note: Children 12 and under will receive $10.00 off per/child, per/day. Two or Three person trips must pay an additional $10.00 per/person, per/day.
Where are you located? From Alpine, follow Hwy. 118 south 78 miles until you reach the junction of Hwy. 170 and turn West. We are located next to Terlingua Auto Service, less then a quarter of a mile from the junction, on the North (right hand side) of the road.
What time should I arrive for my trip? For one-day and half-day trips, 15 minutes before scheduled trip time. For Over-night and multi-day trips we recommend 30 minutes before your scheduled trip time. Larger groups may show up a little earlier.
What are your days and hours of operation? We are open 365 days a year. Our hours of operation are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Do I need a guide? It is recommended for first timers. After you become familiar with the river you may choose the self-guided trip.
Must I know how to swim? No. If you fall out of the boat, your PFD (personal floatation device) will keep you afloat. Pay attention during our safety speech.
What are your reservation terms & conditions? We recommend that you reserve your space ahead of time in order to get the trip, date and time that suits your needs best. March and April are very busy months, try to reserve months in advance. If you would like to take your chances and walk-in, you are more than welcomed.
What is your deposit policy? There is a $25.00 deposit, per/person, per/day and your balance is due 48 hours before your trip date. We will automatically charge your credit card for the balance at that time. Any reservation booked within 48 hours of the requested trip date will require payment in full, with no refund. We accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard or Discover, cash, checks and traveler’s checks. For large groups you must pay with a check.
What is your cancellation policy? Please understand that if you must cancel we are still liable for administrative costs (phone, postage, credit card fees, etc.) and “bump fees” to our staff. If you cancel your trip, your deposit is forfeit for expenses we have already incurred. Cancellations made less than 48 hours before your reserved trip date will forfeit total trip cost. During the month of March we require a 7 day notice or you will be responsible for the full price of the trip.
Do you need to reschedule your trip? Big Bend River Tours will allow you to reschedule a trip for another date if you run into problems with the date you have reserved. You will be charged 10% of your total trip cost each time you reschedule.
Do we need to complete any paper work before our trip? Big Bend River Tours, Inc. requires our large groups to complete the Group Participation Form and send to us at least 48 hours prior to your trip date. Our Waiver of Liability must be completed and brought to us on your trip date.
I have a special food conditions, can you accommodate? Yes! Please let us know of any known allergies or food preferences at the time of your reservation. If there are specialty foods that are unavailable here that you must have, it would then be best to bring your own and we will store it for you in our food coolers for your trip.
Where do I go to the bathroom on a multi-day trip? Watch this YouTube video to find out. LINK This video is rated PG-13.
How qualified are the guides? All of our guides go through a company training program when they first arrive. Each of our guides are certified EMT's, Wilderness First Responders, or have a Wilderness Advanced First Aid certificate and a CPR certificate. Their knowledge of the geology, flora, fauna, and legends of the area will astound you. All this and they cook great food as well. Many of the guides hold degrees in biology, geology or other earth sciences. We hire only those with pleasing personalities and helpful attitudes. We have several who are with us year round and others that are seasonal but come back to work here year after year. All of the guides have a love for the Big Bend that enables them to share the magic that is found only here!
Are gratuities welcome for my guide? Gratuities for your guide are always appreciated and it lets them know how much they added to your enjoyment of your Big Bend adventure. Industry standard is 15% to 20% of your trip cost.