November 26 and 27, 1999 - Big Bend Nat'l Park

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon. One of the most popular canyons in Big Bend National Park. We booked a two-day "wine tasting" trip with Texas River Expeditions and departed Lajitas the first morning and floated nine miles to the entrance of Santa Elena. After setting up our tents, we had time for short hikes and exploring the river bank. The winemaker, Greg Bruni from Llano Estacado winery shared samples of their great wines before dinner. The white table clothed three-course affair was superb. The second day, we finished our journey by floating into the canyon where the sheer limestone walls rise as much as 1,500 feet and the river sometimes narrows to less than thirty feet. The Rock Slide rapid is located within two miles of the canyon entrance and is the major hazard for rafters and canoeists. At certain water levels, the Rock Slide becomes a Class IV rapid. A great trip for those wanting to combine river with hiking and exploring!

Click on thumbnails for larger view:
Gathering at Lajitas river bank before shoving off
We are ready to go. Four to a boat, with guide. Red pack lower left is waterproof gear bag.

That's "Shane" on one of the gear boats.
At the lunch stop, Ed points out pictographs.

Sandbar lunch spot.

"Shane" was a great guide. Safety-conscious, personable, knowledgeable of the area. Texas River Expeditions is definitely the class operation in this area.

Is that a 'ham' in the picture.

On the flat, wide stretches, the guides would let the "tourists" try the oars. This is much harder than it looks. Think I'll keep my day job.

Now she's a believer too.

This is the mouth of Santa Elena canyon. We will spend the night here.

Debra and Karen. Karen, from Houston, was one of the four floaters on our raft.

The floaters. We had the "funnest" raft on the river. We really had great laughs and fun with Karen and Jack. Hope to continue and expand the relationship when we return home.

White table cloths! And real glass wine glasses. These guys really know how to throw a party - in the middle of nowhere.

The next morning, we are entering the canyon.

This is the fabled "rockslide" area. We are tied-up while waiting for the rescue of a couple who swamped. They are middle frame with the orange life vests. They were very lucky that the TRE guys were here. They lost all their gear, including oars and could have been stuck out here for a long time. This area is extremely isolated - but BEAUTIFUL!

Time for lunch. Have I said these guys do a GREAT job. The only way to go.
Sandbar lunch spot and time to reflect.

We are just about to leave the canyon.

Midday. Leaving canyon in background.

Back at Big Bend Motor Inn in Terlingua.

Heading back to Midland airport saw this Episcopalian church in Fort Stockton.

"Paisaino Pete", the world's largest roadrunner (Fort Stockton).

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