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“only hike we did”
Review of Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Borders the western edge of Big Bend National Park.
Reviewed February 2, 2013

It was incredible walking into the canyon. It was sept & it got real warm, real fast. Make sure you have water & a camera.

1  Thank Brittney F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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389 - 393 of 463 reviews

Reviewed December 16, 2012

There are few, if any, hikes of this length in the park. Not only is it perfect for those wanting to get out without doing an 8-miler, but it's stunning and takes you right down to the Rio Grande. On this hike, you will get a view of the river and surrounding area from up high as well as river-side. All I can say is if you are visiting the park, make this stop a priority.

Thank Imzpickle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2012

When to BBNP with parents back in mid/late 70s. Just went back for 2 days. National Parks system has really done superb job preserving the park but making certain parts much more accessible/useable. Only 3 paved roads, but MUCH better and well maintained and navigable. Need more than 2 days, but can see the high lights. BBNP is truly a jewel in the National Parks system.

Great experience and unsurpassed beauty. My accolades to the the preservation and care the 800,000+ acres park has received from the National Park service/ Wildlife.

Trail maps could be more plentiful and accessible, but with apps down loaded on phone prior to trip it is an obstacle easily overcome.

Don't miss Big Bend - One of God's greatest creations!

Thank Susan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2012

Big Bend National Park is a fairly large park that is not heavily visited. Almost no one I have talked to about this park has any idea where it is. I guess that this is part of the allure of this place and one of the reasons why I have visited Big Bend National Park many times in the last 25 years. I never tire of this park and although the lower elevation areas can be quite warm in the summer, there is also an escape to the Chisos Basin where at 5000 feet and higher if you hike up the mountains, it is relatively pleasant even in summer.

This park has many different areas where different habitats of the Chihuahuan desert can be appreciated. You can visit the lower and warmer elevation areas near the Rio Grande or you can decide to do some hiking from the Basin and get to 7300 feet high. The plants and to a certain degree the animals are different depending on the elevation. This park is a nice place to camp and it is one of the darkest locations in North America for stargazing. It recently got certified as a dark sky location since the park now has made an effort to install better lights to minimize light pollution. There are 3 visitor centers that are open year round and a few seasonal ones. Roadrunners and Javalinas are inhabitants of the park that you will probably see. Black bears and mountain lions do live in the park but their numbers are not that large given the size of the park.

Safety as far as the border issues with illegal immigration and such are concerned, are not nearly as big an issue as it is in other states with border parks like Arizona. We have never seen anything that would scare us and prevent us from coming back and we have been visiting since 1986. We have camped in the primitive campsites, which don’t have any facilities (no water or bathrooms or picnic table, but they most have bear or javalina boxes to put your food and dishes there for the night), but have very nice landscapes and surroundings. You usually need a high clearance vehicle for some of these but not all. We have also camped in the Rio Grande campground, which has reasonable facilities. There is also a campground at the basin but it does not have showers. We have also stayed at the lodge in the Basin.

For those not inclined to camp the basin has an assortment of facilities including hotel rooms and cabin-like accommodations. They are not cheap, but considering how far from it all you are, the facilities and convenience are worth the cost. There is also a reasonable restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some very nice trails including the trail to Emory peak start at the basin.

We were told that the lodge is sold out for this Christmas and they are taking reservations for next year’s Christmas. As you can see the place is popular certain times of the year such as Christmas and spring. If you are planning to get a room at the basin it is not a bad idea to make your reservations early rather than late. One of the visitor centers is at the Basin and there is a general store with groceries, camping gear and ice.


I should mention that there is Wi Fi only in two locations (the Basin and Rio Grande Village store).

I will also add that we have taken our 11-inch Celestron telescope to enjoy the very dark skies.

A great little known park, one of my favorite National Parks of the more than 30 parks I have visited since the mid eighties. I would visit there again as I have been doing for years and I highly recommend this place for the scenery and feeling of solitude you can experience when you drive miles inside the park where at low season it is never crowded. Springtime is fairly popular due to the greater numbers of wildflowers.

6  Thank Sarracenia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2012

A beautiful hike right along side the Rio Grande river, A must do while in Big Bend Park. There is some moderate climbing involved, so lace up your hiking boots and hang on!.

2  Thank Steve M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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