Explore the most popular river trails in Big Bend National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Initial portion of the hike is highly inclined. Be careful not attempt to much parkour in risk of tiring yourself out. Echos in the Canyon are superb, try sneezing!!

We made the hike mid-day in 110 degree weather, it is advised you make the hike early in the morning for you summer hikers. Trail ends at the Rio Grande Hot Springs (great muscle relaxer). Be sure to take a dip in the Rio Grande!

Lots of fun! Steeper than I thought but easy to do with stairs. The end is very rewarding as you get to go in the river.

16 days ago

I did this 14 mile trail with my daughter in May a week ago. The rangers recommended against doing it at this time of year because of the heat and the absence of any shade. We did it anyway, starting at sunrise. We took the south fork and were at the river by 10:30AM, a bit ahead of our estimated 30 minute miles. On the way back and around the 9 mile mark I started having terrible muscle crumbs. Apparently I wasn’t drinking enough water. I had brought 4 liters with me and was pacing myself drinking it knowing the heat would increase as the day went on but then I couldn’t hydrate fast enough. The fact we did another 7 mile desert hike the day before didn’t help. Temperature was 96 degrees and there is no shade and on top of that we were at one of the most strenuous uphill parts of the trail. Happily my daughter had decided to pack a bit more water and with short periodic stops for my muscle crumbs to subside we made it back to the car at 3:15PM just about an hour and 15 minutes longer than we estimated. We were the only ones hiking the trail that day (my car was alone in the parking area when we left and when we got back). I would not recommend doing this trail in hot weather. If you do, hydrate yourself the day before and bring LOTS of water. In the end I ended up consuming 5 liters but that was the minimum. With all the issues, I still enjoyed the trail as there are some beautiful mountain view’s! I would do it again but in winter.

scenic driving
18 days ago

Our favorite scenic drive in the park! Loved it!

hiking
18 days ago

Perfect hike for families with small children. Shady & short. Lots of birds.

Not one of my favorites, but an ok trail. Good for families. You can't get into the canyon like the Santa Elena canyon trail. Also, you have to fend off a persistent Jesus "the singing Mexican".

Not a technically difficult hike, but easy is a relative term. There is an incline. It's paved concrete with some steps. Nice overlook at the top.

Easy trail. There's some historical buildings & some pictographs up on the side of a cliff. The hot spring is ...well not my cuppa. It had about 8 guys drinking beer in it. Just......no. Enjoyed the trail. It's good for families with small children. Just don't let them near that cesspool - oops - hot spring!
The drive there is nerve racking. The road is gravel & halfway there splits. You're driving on a narrow gravel one way road through a ravine until it comes together again. The parking lot is generous, but was full when we went on a late Sun afternoon in April.

awesome trail to hike... bring lots of water, it gets hot

on Marufo Vega Trail

26 days ago

Rugged, beautiful and isolated. Doable as a day trip if you're in good shape.

Amazing views. My favorite part of the hike was the nice beach in the shade. Cool boulders along the way too.

Hiked with a couple friends and we enjoyed being alongside the river.

Beautiful drive to make when you first enter the park.

Starts at the hot springs and leads to rio grand “village” which is actually just a picnic area. Can also be done in reverse but we wanted to finish and take a dip in the hot spring which was a treat. Be sure to bring a lot of water! There is no shade on this trail whatsoever. Great views of the river and canyon and across the river to Mexico!

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely breathtaking. The drive up to Santa Elena canyon is amazing and once you park and start walking towards the canyon, your jaw just drops at the sheer majesty of it. Definitely a Big Bend must see/do hike.

Just a beautiful view of the Rio Grande river flowing through the canyon. One of my favorite parts of Big Bend NP.

This was a fun hike for the kids. Lots of big rocks to climb over. Started to get a little warm in the afternoon sun but that is to be expected

Beautiful hike! The whole family loved this one.

Perfect hike to start our time in Big Bend with. Upon reaching the end we went barefoot and walked up the river until we reached the first bend in the canyon. That probably added another mile to our hike. River was shallow (no deeper than 3 feet) and slow but did become rocky the further we pushed. Definitely be aware of weather conditions and be careful wading if you choose to go barefoot. Views in the river and around the bend are awesome, and really made the trail worthwhile!

Enjoyable enough..a little too crowded for my taste, but worth enjoying the hot spring :)

interesting place to see..

love this hike ...short with so much to see

off road driving
3 months ago

Great scenery during the drive. Didn't stop at any sites on the way, but did stop for some amazing photos. Would definitely do again if I had more time.

We stopped short of The Hot Springs to enjoy the Rio Grande on our own. Even in February it was warm. As with all trails in this region you need plenty of water. Take a day pack with river shoes and a swim suit.

Great spot to sit and soak in the Rio Grande. Cool history. Pretty sunsets.

My family hiked this trail in early February. It was great for hiking with a nine month old in the backpack and a five year old. I love how it goes along the cool Rio Grande and the cliffs that have sand dunes at the base that can be explored. Just beautiful.

There are a few sites along the path that Mexicans have crossed the river and set up sales of art pieces (bead figures, walking sticks, and this year “No Wall” koozies). My five year old enjoyed being able to see the horses and men across the river who readily waved back. A couple of road runners who seemed to be well fed by hikers let us see them for more than the usual run across the road.

We took a snack and tested by the river for a few minutes, played in the sand and the hiked back.

Great family hike.

Really surprised at the end. The rock formations out shown the water hole in the rocks. Stunning and intriguing.

An easy walk which goes into the canyon, following the Rio Grande river. Some great views at the start of the walk. A nice change of scenery from the other, mostly dry desert walks.
https://hikingtheworld.blog/2017/10/28/the-best-of-big-bend-texas/#Santa-Elena-Canyon

We walked in Dec. 2017. Very worthwhile walk. Great look at the canyon.

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