Can You Canoe in Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park is one of the most picturesque and diverse national parks in the United States. The park is located in Texas and is home to a variety of activities, including camping, hiking, and, of course, canoeing.

If you are wondering whether you can canoe in Big Bend National Park, the answer is yes! In fact, there are several waterways throughout the park that are perfect for canoeing.

The Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is one of the most popular waterways for canoeing in Big Bend National Park. This river runs along the border between Texas and Mexico, creating a unique and beautiful experience for those who choose to paddle its waters. The park offers several guided tours that allow visitors to explore the Rio Grande by canoe.


If you plan on canoeing in the Rio Grande, it’s important to note that you will need a permit. Permits can be obtained at any ranger station within the park or online through the park’s website. There are also fees associated with obtaining a permit, so be sure to check with the park beforehand.

Guided Tours

If you’re new to canoeing or unfamiliar with the Rio Grande, it’s recommended that you take a guided tour. These tours are led by experienced guides who know the river well and can provide valuable insight into its history and geology. Guided tours also provide an added layer of safety for those who may not be as confident on the water.

Other Waterways

In addition to the Rio Grande, there are several other waterways throughout Big Bend National Park that are perfect for canoeing. These include:

  • Rio Chisos
  • Rio Castolon
  • Rio San Vicente
  • Tule Springs Creek

Rules and Regulations

As with any activity in a national park, there are rules and regulations that must be followed when canoeing. These include:

  • Wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.
  • Do not litter or disturb the natural environment.
  • Respect wildlife and their habitats.
  • Obtain the necessary permits before launching your canoe.


Canoeing in Big Bend National Park is an incredible experience that allows visitors to explore the park’s unique waterways. Whether you choose to paddle down the Rio Grande or explore one of the smaller rivers or creeks, there’s something for everyone.

Just remember to follow the rules and regulations and obtain the necessary permits before launching your canoe. Happy paddling!

Photo of author

Michael Allen