After our mid-day hike to Cattail Falls, on this very hot afternoon, we ventured to the far southwest corner of Big Bend National Park for a hike in Santa Elena Canyon along the Rio Grande River.
After doing the Cattail Falls hike, we made our way to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. That 30 mile paved road is a must for the scenery.
It's worth a half day or so, just to make that 60 mile round trip and stop at the various pull-offs to take in the views and read some of the roadside exhibits.
But our quest was at the end of the road - the Santa Elena Canyon. The last eight miles of the scenic drive from Castolon to Santa Elena is often closed due to flooding. In fact it was closed when we got here and just opened in the last couple of days.
We continued on and there were two places where water still covered the road. We had no problems since we have pretty high clearance, but I don't know that I would have taken a passenger car through the muddy water without knowing exactly how deep it was.
Ah, the famous entrance to Santa Elena Canyon.
We headed in for the 1.7 mile hike. It's a bit of a challenge crossing a flash flood river bed to find the beginning of the trail.
Once we found the trail, we walked until we found a series of concrete steps that wind their way up to this view back out of the canyon.
Eventually, you walk down a more gradual grade until you are along the Rio Grande again. Here you can see a bit farther into the canyon with Linda on the trail.
It's not the Grand Canyon, but these cliffs are astounding. Santa Elena is an impressive sight.
We continued on and I kept snapping pictures just trying to get something that gave the size of these wall some perspective.
From this point, the trail was flat, but not maintained very well. There was a lot of ducking under branches and trying to determine which path to take. Of course the space to get lost was very small and you could only go so far.
At the end of the trail, the river meets a rock wall, so there is nowhere else to go. We could here our voices echoing, and Linda let loose a quick verse of "Amazing Grace".
The sound was magnificent, and that was certainly a moment that gave me chills.
Oh, I forgot to mention that we started this hike around 4:00 with the temperature at 96 degrees. We took our time under this shady ledge at the end of the trail with a natural breeze keeping us cool.
We were the only ones in the canyon, and we embraced the solitude. But eventually, we walked back out.
The only thing that would make this canyon more beautiful is a clearer river.
Coming out of the canyon, the views were quite nice.
Back on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, we stopped a couple of times for more pictures.
It was 6:00 and 98 degrees by that time, but it looked like there was a storm coming in behind us.
On our way home, we stopped in the middle of the road because I had to jump out and quickly get this shot of our first ever tarantula in the wild.
A tarantula may not get many people excited but, for us, it was a nice way to end our trip to Santa Elena Canyon.