Okay, I don’t want this to keep taking weeks, so you get a bunch of posts today, starting with pictures on our drive to Santa Elena Canyon. We were really looking forward to taking the trail into the canyon**, but the “creek” you had to cross was full and there was no way to ford it to get to the trail head. Bummer. So, we turned around and went back to the car. FYI – The family is standing where the creek empties into the Rio Grande, which forms the United States/Mexico border. As you look at the canyon, the left canyon walls are in Mexico and the right are in the US. Pretty close, wouldn’t you say?) Whenever we had the chance, we stopped at some of the old buildings to explore a bit.
And then we found another couple trails to take. These were going up some canyon/washes. At one of them we got to explore both the top and the bottom.
And then there was time to stop at the Sam Nail Ranch on the way back to camp. It’s hard to imagine people actually living out here in the middle of nowhere, but Sam Nail was pretty resourceful and the pump he built is still working (although his house has disintegrated a bit).
Santa Elena Canyon Trail
1.7 miles roundtrip
This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene.
Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail.