Santa Elena Canyon is considered the premier river trip in the park, with 1500 ft. sheer canyon walls of limestone rising up from the waters edge. An absolutely jaw-dropping experience, and unique among rivers in North America, a once-in-a-lifetime experience making the float thru this natural wonder.
Santa Elena Canyon Trip Options
Santa Elena Canyon offers trips from one day to three days depending on the river flow, and side hikes. Scroll down for details on each float trip.
Santa Elena Canyon – Entrance Camp
Santa Elena Canyon – Entrance Rapids
Santa Elena Canyon – False Sentinel, near Metates Camp
Santa Elena Canyon – Santa Elena Canyon Interior
Santa Elena Canyon Campsite
Santa Elena Canyon Trip Options
At most levels a 2-3 day trip, 21 miles of river start to finish, launching in Lajitas and finishing in the National Park just downstream from the canyon hiking trail. In rare instances during high water events, during the rainy summer season, the entire 21 miles can be floated in a single day. It is difficult to predict these circumstances so it is best to book as a one or two night float.
In winter and springtime, during our dry season, it is also possible to do a single day trip by paddling upstream into the canyon, taking a lunch break, and paddling back out, what we call a “boomerang”. This type of trip is canoe only and requires some effort by the client, dragging the boat thru shallows and paddling against occasional currents. If all you have is one day to experience the canyon and have the energy and effort in you to do this then it is the next-best method of enjoying the beauty of the canyon.
The 2 or 3 day downstream or boomerang overnight is still the preferred method but if the water conditions are right we do offer this. If the entire 21 miles of canyon is what you want to do, be aware that most of the year floating in the big rafts is not feasible due to water levels. Canoes or kayaks are the best craft. Be aware that there are numerous rapids, wall shots, and technical spots on the river that require some coordination, skill and moderate experience.
You don’t need to be an expert boater but being in good physical shape and a positive mental attitude are what it takes to make it thru this, the payback is the feeling of accomplishment you get after navigating thru one of the trickiest stretches of rapids and obstacles in Southwestern rivers. If you start this 21 mile trip a novice you will be an accomplished boater by the end.
The 3 day trip allows for more down time at camp and ample time for side hikes.
The menu for meals are tailored to your dietary preferences.
See the Rates Page for Santa Elena Canyon
Santa Elena Canyon 2 day overnight trip
Santa Elena Canyon 3 day overnight trip
Single day boomerang
Santa Elena Single day downstream, raft, canoe or kayak: Price varies depending on group size and water conditions, please remember this option is not available most of the year. Months this is possible are generally Aug. – Oct. but even during these months may not be possible. Inquiring by phone or email is required to discuss feasibility and rates. Please keep in mind that if a one-day float thru the canyon is possible it will still be a long day, starting at 9 am and returning to starting point 5-6 pm or possibly later depending on wind and current.
Inside Santa Elena Canyon
Santa Elena Canyon – Rock Cairn on Mesa de Anguila – side hike