Floating the Lower Canyons

View of Tule Canyon and the Rio Grande from Burro Bluff
View of Tule Canyon and the Rio Grande from Burro Bluff

NPS/Big Bend National Park

Lose yourself in the Lower Canyons

A five to ten day float trip through the Lower Canyons offers a true wilderness experience. The trip begins at Heath Canyon near La Linda and ends at Dryden Crossing (83 miles). The Black Gap Wildlife Management Area is a secondary option for put-ins.

The terrain along the Lower Canyons is open desert, rugged hills, and deep canyons. Access to the river is difficult below La Linda and most of the land above the riverbank is privately owned. The rapids in the Lower Canyons are Class II-IV.
A backcountry permit is required for all overnight river trips

Put-in and take-out information

  • Put-in: The Heath Canyon put-in is located on the U.S. side of the river, just downstream of the La Linda bridge. Permission to use access at Heath Canyon should be obtained by calling Heath Canyon Ranch at 432-376-2235. River access at Black Gap Wildlife Management Area is available at Maravillas, 10 miles downstream from Heath Canyon. There is a $12 per person fee and the access pass is available at Barton Warnock Environmental Center, located in Lajitas, TX, online from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, or anywhere hunting/fishing licenses are sold. Maravillas is closed for river access during deer season.
  • Take-out: All individuals, groups or group representatives must register a river take out request with Harrison Ranch & Stone to access John's Marina at Dryden Crossing.
  • A variety of River guidebooks and maps are available through the Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore

Lower Canyons Assumption of Risk release form required

The Lower Canyons section of the Rio Grande passes through extensive private lands. All visitors who float the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande are required to fill out and sign the following release form:

Please have this form printed, completed, and signed to give to the ranger when you arrange the river permit for your trip.

Lower canyons guide

River Guide to the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande

This full-color laminated trip-log is filled with detailed maps of the entire route, as well as historical and natural history notes. A must-have for any trip through the Lower Canyons, and excellent for trip planning.

Available through the Big Bend Natural History Association


Bravo Y Grande Film

Join a group of river guides, scientists, locals and NPS personnel as they travel 83 miles through the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. Located on the US/Mexico border, the Lower Canyons is one of the most remote sections of river in the US. It is protected and managed by the National Park Service as part of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.

Learn more about this new film

Purchase a DVD through the BBNHA online bookstore

A River Wilderness
The Lower Canyons—three words that convey a certain mystique, a feeling of awe and wonder not linked to any other Big Bend experience. more...

Note: Border Crossing Activity
Illegal border crossings occasionally occur within Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River. If you encounter anything that looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not approach or intervene. Note the location, description, time, direction of travel, and call 911 when possible.

Last updated: January 21, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
c/o Big Bend National Park
PO Box 129

Big Bend National Park , TX 79834


(432) 477-2251

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