Southwest Region 7-day expedition (12/24-12/31/22) - Xmas in the Canyons of the Rio Grande, TX

My name is MC, aka Zdog, and I am the recently appointed SW Regional Rep for APA. I’m putting out a tentative (flow/weather dependent) invite for a 6(7)-day float/paddle of the incredible Upper Canyons (Santa Elena, Mariscal, San Vicente and Hot Springs Canyons) of the Rio Grande, ~ 90 miles from near Lajita to Rio Grande Village.

Right now, the plan is for me to row a new-to-me small raft. In this case, I will be able to provide minimal raft support (groover, firepan, some daily firewood hauling and extra water/beer) for packrafters. IKs and other rafts should anticipate paddling fully self-support.

Ideal flows, for the nature of this trip plan, would be 500-1500 cfs. If flows are below 500 cfs, the Plan B, for flows between 300-500 cfs, is a switch to IKs and minimized support (firepan and groover only) and Plan C will be a pivot to wherever regional flows and weather are most conducive. Regardless, I will be adventuring somewhere 12/24-1/1.

Once on the banks of the Rio Grande, the logistics are pretty easy, with the shuttle only spanning 62 miles of highway. Check out River Trips - Big Bend National Park (U.S. National Park Service), for background information. Since initially planning the itinerary and proposing this trip, I ran across a video of a father-son duo paddling a canoe the exact same route in 6-7 days, at what looks like 175-200 cfs flow. Check it out at Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park - YouTube

There are some fees for park entry ($30/vehicle or Federal Lands/Park Pass), parking, car camping ($16/site) and backcountry use permit ($10/night - 1/2 price with pass). I would guess that on average, expect total fees/per person ~ $75, depending on whether you have a Federal Lands (America the Beautiful, Golden Age, Golden Access) or Big Bend Annual Pass already. Regardless, no advance payment of fees for anything, just pay fees as you participate on the trip.

While the vast majority of the river miles of this trip are Class I-II, I suggest that due to the total miles, remoteness and time of the year - this is not a trip for beginners. You will need to be experienced at packing food, water and gear for an extended multi-day trip and be physically capable of paddling up to an average of 15 miles/per day.

Total group size will be limited to 20 people, so commit early if you wanna go, only 10-12 slots available at this juncture!

Happy Holidays,
Mike

Love this! Thanks for putting it together, @zdog.

Unfortunately, I won’t be free at this time, but would love to attend the next one and will be sure to spread the word on this one!

Looking forward to hearing about how it goes and hoping the best for y’all!