Place

Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

Santa Elena Canyon Overlook
Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

NPS PHOTO

Quick Facts

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Wheelchair Accessible

At this spectacular viewpoint, one is unaware of the length and splendor of this canyon. Santa Elena Canyon is 8 miles (13km) long and 1,500 feet (450 m) deep. In some places it is only 30 feet (9 meters) wide. The Rio Grande established its present course on basin-filling sediments that covered the rocks and faults we see exposed today. The river eroded through the surface layers and cut steep-sided canyons in the more resistant Lower Cretaceous limestones. Today you can see those ancient limestone formations exposed in the canyon walls. Santa Elena Canyon is the most popular overnight or three day river trip in the park.