2008 Rio Grande Flood

Near the town of Presidio, TX in mid-September


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News Release Date: January 31, 2009

Last Update January 31, 2009.

Some damage still remains.

- Woodsens and Jewel Camp 2 still closed.

- The boardwalk nature trail at Rio Grande Village was washed away.

- The launch sites for float trips upstream and downstream of Mariscal canyon have been destroyed.

Highway 170 from Lajitas to Presidio has reopened but includes a 1.7 mile dirt detour graded for all vehicles. For those pulling long 5th wheel trailers and RVs, be advised that there is one 40 yard long gravel hill with a 15% grade.

Rio Grande Village: 

Only 10 sites remain closed at this time. 90 are open. The boat launch/river access point has been cleared of debris. The RV campground, store and gas station are also open at the Village.


The Cottonwood campground is open. The paved road from Castolon to Old Maverick Road has reopened so that visitors can take the loop drive.

River Road

River Road should not be attempted without high clearance and 4 wheel drive due to deep wash crossings and sand.

Some campsites off the River Road that were next to the river have been destroyed. For example, the Solis, La Clocha, and Talley sites on the river were washed away, but the other Solis, La Clocha, and Talley sites survived the flooding. Woodsons and Jewel 2 are closed.

Mariscal Canyon float trips

Put in and take out spots along the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Mariscal Canyon were destroyed by the floods.

These conditions will change as NPS personnel can repair damage to infrastructure, which is a top priority. Check back daily or call the park for updated information. (432) 477-1158

Overview of Tropical Depression Lowell

In mid-September, 2008, Tropical Depression Lowell crossed over north central Mexico from the Pacific and dumped extreme amounts of precipitation in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, southwest of Big Bend National Park.  A large amount of this rain flowed into the Rio Conchos watershed, the major source of water in the Rio Grande as it flows through the Big Bend. The high volume of run-off in the Conchos over-topped  Mexican reservoirs, broke levees, and dumped into the Rio Grande just above the International Bridge connecting Ojinaga, Mexico and Presidio, Texas.  The release from the Rio Conchos, combined with heavy local runoff, created the deepest flood in Big Bend's recorded history.

Videos showing the height of the flood are available on YouTube, but they were not made by the National Park Service, and the NPS is not responsible for their content.

Normally 2-3 feet deep, the Rio Grande grew to over 30 feet deep in places and expanded beyond the normal channel to inundate vast areas of flood plain on both sides of the river. For several days the volume of water exceeded 50,000 cubic feet per second, and receded very slowly as reservoirs released water uniformly. This made the flood last much longer than it otherwise would have. The scouring power of the water did damage some infrastructure, but also positively effected the river corridor by ripping out non-native vegetation.

The park is issuing permits for river use and local outfitters are offering a variety of float trips. Check with the park or local outfitters to get up-to-date information on current conditions.

Comfort station at the Hot Springs in September.

NPS - T Alex

Hot Springs Hotel
High water at the Hot Springs Store near Rio Grande Village in September

NPS - J. Sartain

Bluebonnets (lupine family) popping up through mud cracks.
Bluebonnets (lupine) poking up through mud cracks left behind by the floods. Blooming now along the river - 2/1/09

J. Axel - NPS

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park , TX 79834-0129



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