Our first major stop was going to be one of Big Bend’s most iconic and recognized points of interest: Santa Elena Canyon. It is an out and back road that begins near the park’s Maverick Entrance and has many vista points, scenic pullouts, educational displays, and short … Getting to Santa Elena Canyon. Santa Elena Canyon is at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive: The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is a 30 mile adventure through the Chihuahuan Desert landscape of Big Bend National Park to the banks of the Rio Grande. In rare instances during high water events, during the rainy summer season, the entire 21 miles can be floated in a … Other than the steps at the beginning, it's an easy walk totaling 1.8 miles round trip (it's an out and back trail that follows the canyon to a dead end). As I looked at the map to verify how to get there, I noticed there were two ways. The Santa Elena Canyon Trail is only about 1.5 miles long. … Take only photographs and memories. A short nature trail enters its shady depths, 8 miles west of Castolon, accessible by either Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive or the Old Maverick Road. The majestic Santa Elena Canyon is the most impressive in Big Bend National Park - it is visible for over 10 miles away, as the Rio Grande changes direction abruptly after following beneath the straight Sierra Ponce cliffs for several miles and heads due west, cutting through the mountains via a deep, narrow gorge. Santa Elena Canyon is where the majestic, towering canyon walls really begin. This is yet another rough unpaved and dusty road which I … Know Before You Go. From the Panther Junction Visitor Center, head west on the park’s main road. They are much taller than in Colorado Canyon upriver a few miles, and you start to get a feel for just how completely natural and remote you are when in the canyons. It’s also mostly shaded, making it a nice choice on a hot Texas day, but the area still gets hot in the summer, so make sure you bring plenty of water. The entrance to Santa Elena Canyon from the riverbed. Santa Elena Canyon was worth the drive to the far end of the park (plus you get all the scenery on Ross Maxwell Drive). We originally planned to do a point to point trip, but the water levels weren’t cooperating. Santa Elena Canyon is one of the best-known natural features in Big Bend National Park. That’s relatively short by hiking standards. The difficulty level of … Santa Elena Canyon Water Levels. To get there we took the Old Maverick Road from the west entrance gate. Instead, we did a boomerang trip (put it at one spot – paddle upstream – camp – paddle back to the same spot the next day). Saturday morning well before dawn, the workshop group was off to Santa Elena Canyon in the dark to get there in time for sunrise photos. Pass the road for the Chisos Basin after 3 miles (4.8 km); keep going another 10 miles (16.9 km) to a well-signed road that goes to Castolon and Santa Elena Canyon. Head for Santa Elena Canyon. Santa Elena Canyon Trip Options At most levels a 2-3 day trip, 21 miles of river start to finish, launching in Lajitas and finishing in the National Park just downstream from the canyon hiking trail. Santa Elena Canyon is one of the crown jewels of Big Bend National Park, and something you surely don't want to miss if you pay the park a visit.

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