For the river environment’s protection and your safety, observe these regulations on both sides of the river and on private land along the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.
Backcountry Use Permit Required: Any river user must obtain a National Park Service backcountry use permit before watercraft is placed or operated on the Rio Grande within Big Bend National Park and for overnight trips on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River downstream from the park. Day-use inner tubes are exempt.
The following gear is required for river trips:
Personal Floatation Device (PFD): USCG approved wearable PFDs are required for each person. They must be properly fitted, in serviceable condition, immediately accessible, and must be worn in Class II or greater whitewater. Type I, III, or V PFDs are required in Santa Elena, Mariscal, Boquillas, and the Lower Canyons.
Extra PFD Required: Each group must carry an extra Type I, III, or V PFD.
Extra Paddles: Each vessel shall carry an extra paddle or oar; kayaks shall have an extra paddle per party.
Waste Systems: Each overnight boat group must bring and use an appropriate waste system. Approved options include personal chemical bagged waste containment systems, or a RV dump station compatible waste system.
Patch Kit: Each group with inflatable vessels traveling through major canyons will carry an operable pump and patch kit capable of making major repairs.
Fire Pans: Each overnight boat group must carry a fire pan with a 2 inch minimum rim.
Fires must be contained in firepans, and all unburned charcoal carried out. Burn only charcoal or dead and down wood.
Safe Loads: No vessel may carry more than a safe load (in persons or total weight). Do not overload vessels.
**NOTE: Local outfitters have all the required gear (and then some) available for rent.
The NPS recommends the following for your safety and the protection of the river environment:
Last updated: May 14, 2019