gem icon Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

Building Map
Loading Map Data
Map Settings
Featured Hike
Trail

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.

Difficulty: Short Walk

Access: 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.

Shared by Zander Goepfert

0 Comments

Rate Gem


   Clear

4.5 from 2 votes


Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Nov 25, 2016
Ertuğrul Akmeşe
Nov 22, 2016
Susan Farley
Nov 13, 2016
Bill Duke
AM & PM photo OPS
Sep 17, 2016
Paul Foster
Awesome place. River was high so we had to wade thru some mud and only got to go half way.
Sep 8, 2016
Rene Atkinson
The Rio Grande River was a little to high to get to the lookout but still a beautiful view.
Mar 18, 2014
nancy intexas
Mar 12, 2014
Kent Montgomery

Nearby Trails

Lajitas, TX
0.8 mi 1.3 km Lajitas, TX
Unknown
Update
3.6 mi 5.8 km
Mule Ears Trail
Big Bend National Park, TX
3.6 mi 5.8 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
8.0 mi 12.9 km
Chimneys Trail
Big Bend National Park, TX
8.0 mi 12.9 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
Big Bend National Park, TX
1.8 mi 3.0 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
Big Bend National Park, TX
0.5 mi 0.9 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
0.6 mi 0.9 km
Tuff Canyon Trail
Big Bend National Park, TX
0.6 mi 0.9 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
16.3 mi 26.2 km
Smoky Creek Trail
Big Bend National Park, TX
16.3 mi 26.2 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
Lajitas, TX
0.4 mi 0.7 km Lajitas, TX
Unknown
Update
1.1 mi 1.8 km
Burro Spring Trail
Big Bend National Park, TX
1.1 mi 1.8 km Big Bend National Park, TX
Unknown
Update
Shared by Zander Goepfert on Jul 21, 2016. All Page Views: 54. Last Month: 27.