Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Bend: Santa Elena Canyon

The forecast for our last day in Lajitas was - take a guess - HOT! So, that meant one more sunrise drive. We had two things we still wanted to do in Big Bend National Park, but time for just one before things around here started to sizzle. We decided to explore Santa Elena Canyon and save hiking the Window Trail for our next trip, when it’s much cooler! After entering the park, we headed south on the Russ Maxwell Scenic Drive. This 30-mile trek lived up to its name. It was quite scenic.

From an overlook near the end of the scenic drive, we spotted our hiking destination. That “slice” along this ridge is Santa Elena Canyon, a most scenic spot along the border. The towering canyon wall on the left is in Mexico, and its twin on the right sits in the US.

Santa Elena Canyon is seven miles long. The trail along the Rio Grande goes just a bit less than a mile into the canyon.

Our hiker's guidebook warned us that this trail can be impassible due to flooding. That certainly wasn't a problem today as we crossed the dry creek bed with ease.

We spotted this group setting out on a canoe trip. What a gorgeous place to put in! While their travels would be flat, we had some climbing to do on that rise to the right of the river's edge.

The canyon walls provided welcome shade and a gorgeous background for many, many photos.

The trail ends at one of the narrowest places in the canyon. It looks like the canoeists made it through just fine.

Are these ancient petroglyphs on this boulder? Not exactly. It looks like many recent visitors have left their mark at the canyon with a muddy handprint. Remember the Tom Hanks movie Castaway? This rock looked like a crowd of "Wilsons".

Making our exit from the canyon, we took in this stunning view. It captured everything that Big Bend National Park has to offer: the river, the desert and the mountains. We've enjoyed our week here and look forward to returning.

But, like we said, we'll come back when it's cooler.


Jim and Sandie said...

So where are you taking us next?

Sue and Doug said...

a nice morning for a hike!!..where are we all going next?..we will sit in the back and be real quiet!!..please!!

E Squared and Mui said...

That last photo is fantastic. Sounds like there's a lot of interesting things to do ... provided the temps are not sizzling. Will keep that in mind.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Thanks for the revisit! The canyon was one of the few places we visited in Big Bend before Anneke fell and broke her ankle.