For 1250 miles, the Rio Grande is the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Together, Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River protect 245 miles of river—one fifth of the section of the river shared by the United States and Mexico. In this remote stretch in west Texas, the river makes a curve to the northeast to form the “big bend.” It is here that the wild character of the river lives on.
The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River is easily accessible from several locations in Big Bend National Park. Stand on the riverbank at Rio Grande Village, at the Hot Springs Historic Area, or at the Boquillas Canyon Nature Trail and you will view a portion of the free-flowing Rio Grande. However, the only way to truly experience the river is to float it.
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River Use Regulations
For the river environment's protection and your safety, observe regulations on both sides of the river and on private land along the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River. For more information visit the river use regulations page.
There is some required equipment for any river trip. Three options are available if you desire to make a river trip: you can bring your own equipment, rent equipment, or hire a guide service that will provide all permits, food, equipment, and shuttles.
Human Waste Disposal
To protect the quality of the Rio Grande ecosystem and enhance the wilderness experience of a river trip, all users must properly dispose of human waste. Visit the human waste disposal page for more information.
By giving forethought to your actions, you can have a safe, exciting, and rewarding experience while floating the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River. For more information visit the river safety page.
Information on guided trips, equipment rental, and shuttle services. For more information visit the Outfitters page.
Ten to fifteen miles per day is a normal pace on the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River. The feasibility of a particular trip varies with the season and river level. Always check current conditions before planning your float trip. Visit the river mileages and estimated days page for more information.
Private Property Rights along the River
Downstream from the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River flows exclusively through private land. Visit the private property rights page for more information.
Water Quality & River Users
The quality of water in the Rio Grande through the Big Bend region is highly variable. Big Bend National Park staff sample the water for bacterial levels on a monthly basis at several locations within the park. For more information visit the river water quality page.
Last updated: September 19, 2022