Below Boquillas Canyon and the boundary of Big Bend National Park, lies the third longest wilderness river section in the continental US. River enthusiasts putting in at Heath Canyon Ranch, across the river from La Linda, Coahuila, must travel over 85 river miles before the next public access at Dryden Crossing.
Over 60 miles of this stretch are enclosed in a series of little known, remote river canyons, simply known as the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. This premier wilderness waterway was designated part of the National Wild and Scenic River System in 1978, and is the grand finale for over 250 miles of Rio Grande protected by state and federal legislation.
In the heart of the canyons, every manner of towering cliff and sculpted stone spire commands our attention. Visitors encounter flowing springs and water carved side canyons ripe for exploration. A handful of major rapids demand careful preparation and skill in this remote locale. A trip through these mysterious canyons offers a level of peace and solitude rarely available in the US.
By most measures, the Rio Grande is not a difficult river to navigate, but the remoteness can magnify the effect of even the smallest mishap. Extra care should be taken at all times, and river travelers must never forget that this river drains a significant portion of the North American continent. Rain events far away can cause sudden rises that may swiftly inundate even the most conservatively planned campsite. Have a plan.
Before attempting this remote stretch of river, it is a good idea to check with one of the local river outfitters. They can do everything from a fully outfitted trip where all guides, equipment, meals and transportation are included, to simply giving you an update of local conditions on the phone.