Hiking Project Logo

gem icon Santa Elena Canyon Overlook [Suggest Edits]

63 votes
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Description

The sheer cliff walls of the Santa Elena Canyon offer a dramatic frame for this viewpoint at the shore of the Rio Grande. Traveling for many miles, the river makes a sharp turn to the west as it cuts cleanly through the rock layers to form this impressive landscape.

Enjoy a snack or picnic lunch after the ~30-mile drive along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from the Visitor Center. Afterward, head down the Santa Elena Canyon Trail to the sandy shore of the river at its junction with Terlingua Creek. This creek is typically dry or very low, but after heavy rainfall, it can cause the trail to close due to dangerous conditions.

Another fun day-trip option is to rent or bring a canoe to paddle upstream on the river. Head out from the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead and go for a few miles into the canyon and then return back downstream. When the water level is low, the current becomes much easier to paddle against.

This is a great trip if you only have one vehicle or if you don't want to pay for a shuttle to take you back to where you started. Many visitors paddle up to Fern Canyon, a scenic side canyon that lies two miles upstream, which has lush, green ferns emerging from spots where the water trickles out of the canyon walls.

Short Walk: Around a half mile from the parking area, an out-and-back hike would be approximately one mile total.

Family Friendly: This viewpoint into the canyon is close to the parking and picnic area with access to a sandy beach at the bend in the Rio Grande.

Gem Type: Viewpoint

Shared by:
Zander Göpfert
loading

You & This Gem

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins


Nearby Trails

1.0 mi 1.5 km Santa Elena Canyon Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
All Clear
Update
Dry, Muddy
61 days ago
73 
3.0 mi 4.9 km The Root Route Trail-South (aka Sport Course)
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Unknown
Update
3.8 mi 6.2 km Upper Burro Mesa Pour-Off Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
16 
1.9 mi 3.1 km Upper Burro Mesa Pour-off Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
5.8 mi 9.4 km Mule Ears
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
12 
0.8 mi 1.4 km Santa Elena Canyon Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Intermediate Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Unknown
Update
0.7 mi 1.1 km Indian Head Trail
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
0.6 mi 0.9 km Tuff Canyon Trail
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
14 
0.5 mi 0.9 km Lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off Trail
Easy Easy
Big Bend National Park, TX
Easy Easy
Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
15 
8.1 mi 13.0 km Mesa De Anguila - West
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Lajitas, TX
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Lajitas, TX
Unknown
Update
Shared by Zander Göpfert on Jul 21, 2016. All Page Views: 3,638. Last Month: 19.

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started.