Can You Kayak at Big Bend National Park?

Are you planning a trip to Big Bend National Park and wondering if kayaking is an activity you can enjoy? The answer is yes, indeed!

The park offers some of the best kayaking opportunities in the country. With the Rio Grande flowing through the park, kayakers can paddle their way through stunning canyons and breathtaking landscapes.

What is Kayaking?

Kayaking is a water sport that involves paddling a small boat known as a kayak. It is done on rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Kayaks are designed to be narrow and lightweight, allowing them to easily navigate through rapids and tight spaces.

Kayaking at Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park has over 240 miles of river that you can explore by kayak. The Rio Grande runs along the Texas-Mexico border and offers some incredible kayaking experiences. You can paddle your way through Santa Elena Canyon, Boquillas Canyon, or Mariscal Canyon for an unforgettable adventure.

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular kayaking spots in Big Bend National Park. It features towering cliffs that rise up to 1,500 feet above the Rio Grande River. Paddling through this canyon lets you experience nature’s beauty at its finest.

Boquillas Canyon

Boquillas Canyon offers a serene kayaking experience with breathtaking views of limestone cliffs, desert landscapes, and crystal clear waters. This canyon also has hot springs where you can take a break from paddling and soak in natural warmth.

Mariscal Canyon

Mariscal Canyon is the most challenging kayaking spot in Big Bend National Park due to its technical rapids. Experienced kayakers will enjoy paddling through this canyon’s narrow passages surrounded by towering rock formations.

Things to Know Before You Go Kayaking

  • Always wear a life jacket when kayaking.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • Respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance from them.


Kayaking is a fantastic way to experience the beauty of Big Bend National Park. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or a beginner, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Just remember to take proper precautions and enjoy your adventure!

Photo of author

Emma Gibson