Santa Elena Canyon Trail is a 1.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Terlingua, Texas that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until October.
This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene. Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail.
The water level was very high when we visited and the trail into the canyon was very hard to access. Terlingua Creek was mostly flooded and you need to get across it to get in. Most of the other visitors were just turning back but we were determined. It took some work but we managed to find a path in that kept us mostly dry. It is seriously worth getting a little wet here. If you turn back and don't go into the canyon you are basically missing the whole thing. The view inside is just spectacular. It's very humbling. The stone walls are utterly enormous. If the water is high when you visit, at least make an attempt to find a way in. It's worth it.
It is a MUST see! We went in labor day. The water level just went down to the warning line so 1/3 of me is under the water. The ground under the water is quite muddy and was hard to walk firmly. These huge rock mountains are really GRANDE that it looks like some action movie scene.
Be prepared for a water crossing at Terlingua Creek. Had to wade across when I visited. Beautiful little meandering trail along the river in the canyon. Very interesting part of Big Bend to visit.
Easy trail, moderate incline steps and well worth the view. Keep following the trail and you'll end up on the beach, very close to the Rio Grande.
Superb trail along the river and canyon. Spectacular views. Best visited in the spring.
Absolutely beautiful. Lots of people, but we went over Spring Break. Very easy hike.
The most beautiful scenery in the canyon! It was not a strenuous hike and almost gave it a four but you just don't see nature like this anywhere. The side canyon walls are buffeted by the Rio Grande river softly washing over the walls. Picture book scenery.
Take your kayak and paddle in some. Stinky but awesome views.
You can dip your toes in the Rio Grande and then hike into lush greenery and bamboo along the bank and at the base of dramatic cliff drops.
Incredible views abound on this short, easy trail in Big Bend. Santa Elena canyon is narrow with towering walls. Due to the rock layers, once you are in the canyon, the Rio Grande looks to be flowing uphill. Being enveloped in this canyon is a humbling experience. Just stunning!