Canyons of the Rio Grande


Ratings and days for trips vary with water level; call us for current information and recommendations. Permits are required for all river trips. See the BBNP website and BBRSP website for more details.

Colorado CanyonRancherias/Madera101class II-IIISeveral small rapids; the only igneous rock canyon in Big Bend. Lots of fun for boaters with basic skills.
Contrabando IMadera/Grassy Banks31/2Ledge Rock
class II-III
A mellow stretch of river traversing the foothills of Contrabando mountains. Easy access.
Contrabando IIGrassy Banks/Lajitas8.51Fresno Rapid
class II-III
Extends Contrabando I to Lajitas.
Santa Elena CanyonLajitas/Santa Elena Takeout202-3Rockslide Rapid
class IV
Considered by some the most spectacular canyon in Big Bend. Rock Slide is the most difficult rapid in the national park.
Great UnknownSanta Elena Takeout/Talley474-5no notable rapidsA seldom seen stretch of river twists and turns past stunning vistas and abandoned river settlements.
Mariscal Canyon ITalley/Solis102Rockpile, Tight Squeeze
class II-III 
This limestone canyon forms the bottom of the “bend” in Big Bend. Difficult to access but worth the effort.
Mariscal Canyon IISolis/Rio Grande Village182-3no notable rapidsExtends Mariscal I to Rio Grande Village, including San Vicente and Hot Springs Canyons.
Rio Grande Village/La Linda333-4no notable rapidsThe longest and most varied of the canyons in the national park.
Lower CanyonsLa Linda/Dryden83.57-12Upper and Lower Madison
class III-IV
A boater’s paradise: rugged and remote. Given Wild & Scenic recognition by U.S. Congress in 1978.

CAUTION! Summer heat and other extreme weather conditions may significantly increase the difficulty. Be aware of the possibility of flash floods, summer lightning storms and extreme temperature drops in the winter months. Always carry plenty of water and dress appropriately for weather and temperature conditions. Contact Desert Sports for current conditions.