30-Day Rio Grande Trip in 2005

I am planning a Rio Grande trip for November, 2005, that will probably be about 30-40 days in length, possibly longer, with the goal of shooting a video documentary on the river and sights along the way. The trip will begin near Presidio (or Redford) above Colorado Canyon, then proceed through Santa Elena, Mariscal, San Vicente, Hot Springs, Boquillas and the Lower Canyons, taking out at Langtry above Lake Amistad.

The total trip distance will be about 300 miles. Because of access above the Lower Canyons this expedition may be joined by paddlers in canoes or rafts ONLY (sorry, kayakers, but you need to be able to carry your own gear and supplies) for short sections of 1-3 days. Paddlers may join the group for selected sections or for the whole trip from the put-in to Heath Canyon Ranch.

The final 137 miles will be a trip that requires paddling all the way to the take-out once we depart Heath Canyon Ranch on the Texas side opposite La Linda, Mexico, and will probably take 12-14 days of the 30+ total days. There are possible take-outs at Dryden Pass (83.5 miles) and Foster Ranch (119 miles) in the event of emergencies or for those who do not wish to paddle all the way to Langtry.

For the Upper Canyons paddlers need to have at least intermediate skills and be prepared for expedition wilderness paddling in hot, cold, wet and/or dry weather conditions. Those paddling the Lower Canyons need to have at least STRONG intermediate level whitewater skills in Class III to IV+ conditions and be proficient in swiftwater self-rescue.

All participants must be in very good to excellent health, have the stamina to paddle a fully loaded canoe or raft 15-25 miles in a day, and be willing to be part of a wilderness trekking team, meaning sharing all responsibilities for setting up camp, preparing meals, cleaning up and striking camp, as well as assisting each other in the major rapids. All participants will be required to sign a liability waiver as well as a model release authorizing use of their names, images and comments in the documentary.

Each person will be responsible for their own expenses. Group meals will be planned and prepared to coordinate purchasing and hold down costs, which will probably average around $30-40 per day, possibly less. We will probably meet in either Austin or San Antonio, then go as a group to the put-in, but those who are only going for part of the trip can meet us at pre-determined locations along the route between the put-in and Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park, which will serve as our base site.

Optimum water conditions usually prevail in the period from late-October through February or early March, with best conditions usually found in November. Daytime temperatures may range from the upper 40’s to the lower 80’s, and nighttime temperatures may range from the lower 30’s to the lower 50’s.

If you are interested in being a part of this trip, then please post messages here and give your e-mail address and/or telephone number so that you can be contacted for specific information.

Due to permit requirements group size is limited to 30 persons between Lajitas (between Colorado and Santa Elena Canyons) down to Talley through Santa Elena Canyon and the Great Unknown, and from Solis below Mariscal Canyon to Rio Grande Village above Boquillas Canyon. Other than Colorado Canyon, all other sections are limited to a maximum group size of 20 persons.

Advance deposits will be required no later than 60 days prior to departure dates, and no refunds will be given for cancellations less than 40 days in advance. We will maintain a list of participants on a first come (deposits received) basis, as well as a standby list to fill slots left by cancellations.

If you are up to the task of extended wilderness whitewater paddling trips in very rugged and scenic places, have good group dynamics (no discussions of politics or religion!) and want to enjoy the trip of a lifetime, then I look forward to discussing this trip with you. We will NOT have any problem filling all available slots, so be sure to let me know as soon as possible if you want to be included.

Sounds like a fun trip…
30 days 300 miles must be alot of camping along the way…$30 to $40 bucks a day for food U B eatin good…better than I normaly eat at home…30 to 40 bucks times 30 days big money for food…

The cost includes much more than food
In addition to food costs there are fees for access and camping in Big Bend National Park, shuttles, gasoline to run back and forth to Marathon or Alpine to restock, etc. The one way drive to Alpine is at least 100 miles from the nearest river access, and much further from most accesses. Gasoline in Big Bend costs well over $2 per gallon.

As I stated, the quoted rate is probably on the high side, and actual costs may be a little lower. If you think that is unreasonable, then try going with an area outfitter where you will pay $120-140 per day.

And, yes, we do eat VERY well. On our recent trip we had meals of barbeque brisket, potato salad, barbeque beans and wheat bread, pit ham with green beans, mashed potatoes and wheat rolls, jalapeno sausage with cajun pan-fried new potatoes and red beans and rice with garlic bread, jalapeno sausage with Mexican corn, pinto beans and wheat rolls, beef and chicken fajitas, grilled chicken with grilled vegetables (yellow squash, zucchini, new potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, bell pepper and tomatoes), beef tips and noodles with mashed potatoes, carrots and cornbread, and those are just the dinners.

On our trips we eat VERY well, and we’re proud of it. We model ourselves on the mantra of the Alamo City Rivermen who claim to be an eating club that loves to paddle.