Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Bend :: Santa Elena Canyon

One of the main attractions of the Castolon area is Santa Elena Canyon and the trail that leads you a short distance into the Canyon.

On my first afternoon at Castolon, I drove the eight miles to the end of the road and ventured down to the river. To get to the canyon trail you first have to cross a small stream that meets the Rio Grande. Depending upon how much rain there has been, or whether water has been released upstream, the crossing can be between impassible or merely a walk across a dry stream bed.

On this day the stream was flowing, with perhaps 2-7 inches of water where it joined the Rio Grande but upstream it was thick, gooey mud. I put on my old shoes and waded across, carrying with me a pair of dry socks, which I changed into on the other side. If you are careful in choosing the path across the stream you can cross without hardly getting wet. I was more successful (less wet) on the return trip across.

Santa Elena Canyon was forged through the eons by the waters of the Rio Grande. Mexico is on the left and the United States on the right. Also on the right is the small stream that joins the Rio Grande that must be crossed to get to the trail.

The view from up above, at the highest point of the trail. The Chisos Mountains off in the distance. The small stream on the left merges with the Rio Grande on the right.

The trail drops down to the river, goes into the canyon about half a mile, and ends just on the other side of the big boulder in the center of the picture. The walls of the canyon, at that point, go straight up from the river.

The next morning I returned for another picture of the Canyon. The water level of the stream had dropped significantly overnight but the stream bed was still quite muddy.

Photographs taken March 1, 2010 and March 2, 2010.

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