River Trips on the Mighty Rio Grande

The Rio Grande, known as the Rio Bravo del Norte in Mexico, flows across hundreds of miles of the Chihuahuan Desert in far west Texas. Its course has carved dozens of spectacular canyons and meanders through miles of this striking and solitary landscape of open desert. The Rio gives adventurers of all skill sets and abilities the chance to experience a dazzling array of nuances that are unique to one of the most endangered rivers in the world. Wild Adventure Outfitters specializes in some of the most remote and demanding river trips that the Rio Grande has to offer and we take great pleasure in showcasing each and every mile of this remarkable river in a respectful way.

The Rio Grande is a very changeable river and our adventures reflect that. Season and river level determine a lot about what each trip looks like and your interests and availability determines the rest. Give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through the best options for your trip before booking. From canyon choice to camping gear, food requirements to river flows, we’ve got your basics covered and you can rest assured that your experience on the Rio Grande will be one-of-a-kind.

1-Day River Trip

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With almost 200 miles of Wild and Scenic River available for boating, we can always offer a Full-Day River Trip through the Rio’s canyons. Potential itineraries on these full day trips range from Santa Elena and Hot Springs Canyons in Big Bend National Park to Colorado Canyon and beyond in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Custom day trips can be made to accommodate special needs and desires.


Santa Elena Canyon


This 21-mile section of the Rio Grande meanders through gorgeous scenery that is rich in geologic wonders, flora and fauna, and human history, both old and new. At their full height, the walls of Santa Elena tower 1500 feet above the Rio Grande and are truly a sight to behold. Floating through this spectacular canyon allows you to fall into the rhythm of a multi-day river trip and affords access to places far from the beaten path. Hiking options include the Mesa de Anguila trails and drainages, visitation to landscapes altered by prehistoric peoples, and adventures to places inaccessible except by river. Take some time and let Santa Elena Canyon feel like home for a little while.

Trip Length: 2 to 4 days (21 Miles)

Difficulty: Beginner-Advanced


The Great Unknown


The Great Unknown is a seldom floated 75 miles of river. Meandering along the southern edge of Big Bend National Park, the Great Unknown offers big open vistas and interesting desert landscape. Floating this section of the Rio Grande can offer a sense of solitude like no other in Big Bend National park. With very few rapids on this section of the river, the Great Unknown lends itself perfectly to folks looking to spend a week paddling river miles and getting into the rhythm of a multi-day canoe trip.

Trip Length: 7 to 10 days (75 miles)

Difficulty: Beginner


Mariscal Canyon


Enjoy time in one of Big Bend’s more remote canyons. This trip begins and ends along the remote River Road at the southern end of Big Bend National park and the drive is a scenic and exciting adventure in and of itself. Mariscal Canyon’s narrow passage and towering walls are spectacular and the southernmost piece of the “Big Bend” of the Rio Grande lies along its path. This canyon is one of our least visited and contains fascinating remnants of unique human history along with a bounty of natural wonders. Hiking in Mariscal offers elevation gain and breathtaking views, fascinating visits to places of human occupation, and access to places that is only available from the river.

Trip Length: 2 to 3 days (11-21 Miles)

Difficulty: Beginner


Boquillas Canyon

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Covering a total of 33 miles, the Boquillas Canyon Trip takes you past the small village of Boquillas, Mexico and into the dramatic canyon that has cut its way through the Dead Horse Mountains. Beginning at Rio Grande Village, this river trip allows for deep exploration of the east side of Big Bend National Park. This trip is a hiker’s dream, with miles of remote side canyons and overland hikes made accessible by the Rio Grande. A few rapids make this an exciting stretch of river and the vegetated banks along the shorelines make camping very enjoyable. Boquillas Canyon is also filled with interesting human history that ranges from the Spaniards and Apaches to the rugged settlers of the present-day.

Trip Length: 3 to 6 days (33 Miles)

Difficulty: Beginner


The Lower Canyons Expedition


In our opinion, the Lower Canyons is one of the best wilderness river trips around, featuring high adventure, incredible remoteness, and unparalleled landscapes. Floating along 83 miles of the protected Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, this stretch is noted for its outstanding geologic, recreational, and scenic values. Seven days is the minimum amount of time needed to navigate this section of river while also taking advantage of opportunities for adventure and exploration. The Lower Canyons contain several stretches of rapids, some of which require lining or portaging, all of which add to the high adventure of this trip. Frequently, we encounter no other people along this section and this unique isolation in the beauty of rugged wilderness makes the Lower Canyons a truly wild trip.

Trip Length: 7 to 14 days (83 Miles)

Difficulty: Intermediate