Our last hike at Big Bend National Park was our favorite hike! After stopping at the Boquillas Canyon Overlook, we hiked the Boquillas Canyon Trail. It had everything we wanted — spectacular views of sheer cliffs, the babbling water of the Rio Grande, historic mortar holes, and beaches to play and relax on.
Boquillas Canyon Trail is a moderate, 1.4 mile round trip, out and back trail along the bank of the Rio Grande to the entrance of the stunning 20 mile long Boquillas Canyon.
The trail begins at the end of Boquillas Canyon Spur Road. It starts with stairs climbing 85 feet from the parking lot to the top of a cliff overlooking the Rio Grande River. If you walk off the trail out onto the rocky cliff, you can see mortar holes from ancient Native American inhabitants, the small village of Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico across the river, and the Sierra del Carmen Mountains.
From the cliff, the trail continues down to the sandy banks of the Rio Grande, through a riparian area full of lush green vegetation.
In the cool shade of the trees, we came across an old Mexican man standing near an arrangement of handmade, beaded crafts. He was friendly and trying to get hikers to make a purchase. We asked a ranger and apparently, in this area of the park, Mexican Nationals come across the Rio Grande illegally to sell items to tourists and if you buy any, they can be confiscated as contraband!
Finally, the trail comes to a beach at the entrance of Boquillas Canyon. Here the incredible sheer limestone cliffs of the Sierra del Carmen rise 1,300 feet above the river. It’s a gorgeous setting and many people stop here to relax, play, and picnic on the bank of the river.
But if you’re up for more adventures, you can either:
- Play on a sand dune — From the trail, the river is to the right and to the left, at the base of the cliffs, is a sand dune hill that you can climb up and slide down!
- Keep on hiking — you can follow the trail further downstream as it narrows for more amazing views of Boquillas Canyon.
We followed the Boquillas Canyon Trail as far as we could before the only other option was to get in the river. It was hot but beautiful, and a great final hike to cap off our visit to Big Bend National Park.
Know Before You Go
About the Boquillas Canyon Trail:
- The Boquillas Canyon Trail is located near the Rio Grande Village and Visitor Center in Big Bend National Park. Other than the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, this is the only trail that gets you down on the sandy banks of the Rio Grande River.
- There is a pit toilet at the trailhead and flush restrooms are available at the nearby Visitor Center.
- The Rio Grande creates a distinct environment in Big Bend National Park that is home to countless bird species and many desert animals. Several river hikes provide access into river canyons and elsewhere along its banks.
- Rio Grande Village is at 1,850 feet elevation and temperatures are cooler here than in other parts of the park during colder months. Temperatures from April to September can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
About Big Bend National Park:
- Big Bend National Park is located in Brewster County, southwest Texas.
- The name Big Bend refers to the great U-turn the Rio Grande makes in Southwest Texas. The Rio Grande defines the park’s southern boundary for 118 miles.
- Park entrances are open 24 hours daily, all year and have variable seasons and hours.
- Admission fees are valid for seven days and are $30/vehicle, $25/motorcycle, $15/individual/bicyclist/pedestrian.
- There are five Visitor Centers in Big Bend National Park: Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, Castolon, Persimmon Gap, and Rio Grande Village.
- Download the Big Bend National Park maps.
- There are three developed campgrounds in the park: the Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood campgrounds. Sites are first come, first-served, although a limited number of campsites in Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin campgrounds are reservable.
- Convenience stores are available and open year-round at Rio Grande Village, the Chisos Basin, and in the historic La Harmonia store at Castolon.
- Gas stations are located at Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village, and outside the park in Study Butte and Stillwell’s Ranch. Diesel is available at Panther Junction and in Study Butte.
- Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go and must be on a leash no longer than six feet in length or in a cage at all times. Pet etiquette and park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.