Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.


Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?

  • 10 Replies
  • 549 Views
*

Offline MDBajzer

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« on: November 07, 2018, 12:08:00 PM »

I'll be in Big Bend Thanksgiving Week and as much as I want to kayak into Santa Elena canyon (on a 2-person inflatable kayak with 2 people), I'm worried that the water level will be too high (currently at about 590cfs). What is the ideal water flow rate for going upstream on the Rio Grande at that point? If it is too high, would it be more worth it kayak down the Colorado Canyon (seems underwhelming compared to SEC) or better to just hike Santa Elena, putz around the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, and find other stuff to do? How long does Colorado Canyon take? If we don't do SEC that day, there won't be much other opportunity to do so in our itinerary so it's then or never.

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2018, 07:31:36 PM »

I'll be in Big Bend Thanksgiving Week and as much as I want to kayak into Santa Elena canyon (on a 2-person inflatable kayak with 2 people), I'm worried that the water level will be too high (currently at about 590cfs). What is the ideal water flow rate for going upstream on the Rio Grande at that point? If it is too high, would it be more worth it kayak down the Colorado Canyon (seems underwhelming compared to SEC) or better to just hike Santa Elena, putz around the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, and find other stuff to do? How long does Colorado Canyon take? If we don't do SEC that day, there won't be much other opportunity to do so in our itinerary so it's then or never.

I packrafted the canyon downriver last Thanksgiving when the river flows were around 800cfs. On my second night, I camped just beyond the Rock Slide Rapids. The next day, as I paddled downriver through the canyon toward Castolon, I passed several kayakers (hard-shell and inflatable) heading upstream. They were working hard but they didnít look miserable.

Do you only have one day to spend on paddling?


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 11:48:56 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline MDBajzer

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 08:57:07 AM »

Do you only have one day to spend on paddling?


"Do you only have one day to spend on paddling?"

Unfortunately yes. We have three days total there, and the other two will be spent backpacking south rim and going to hot springs/Boquillas Del Carmen. Our kayak isn't big enough to take all the gear we'd need for overnight, which means we'd have to rent a canoe, but we don't have any way to transport it, so we'd need to get a shuttle, which is quickly adding layers of complexity. Plus neither of us have ever done overnight canoeing involving rapids; we're a little wary about capsizing and suddenly all of your stuff is soaked.

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 11:40:13 AM »

Do you only have one day to spend on paddling?


"Do you only have one day to spend on paddling?"

Unfortunately yes. We have three days total there, and the other two will be spent backpacking south rim and going to hot springs/Boquillas Del Carmen. Our kayak isn't big enough to take all the gear we'd need for overnight, which means we'd have to rent a canoe, but we don't have any way to transport it, so we'd need to get a shuttle, which is quickly adding layers of complexity. Plus neither of us have ever done overnight canoeing involving rapids; we're a little wary about capsizing and suddenly all of your stuff is soaked.

Makes complete sense.  Your itinerary should give you the highlights of the park. I do think a boomerang up Santa Elena Canyon would be worth it. Last year I came down the lower part of the canyon two days after Thanksgiving. During the time I was downriver of the Rock Slide, I saw four parties paddling up the river and none paddling down. I take that to mean that you might have a fair bit of solitude in the canyon once you get past the foot trail on the west wall (just several hundred yards long). And the canyon is drop dead gorgeous with all it's tilted geology and the high narrow walls. And the silence!!!!  Good luck and hope you have fun in the the Bend.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline MDBajzer

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 05:55:01 PM »
Interesting. I called a couple of the outfitters and they said that anything more than 200cfs will be a struggle going upstream. Though another site said 500cfs is doable. I wonder if maybe they were referring to different gauges? I've been looking at Costolon gauge, but I wonder if after the Terlingua creek meets the Rio Grande that, that increases the cfs considerably by the time it gets to the Costolon gauge.  :eusa_think:

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 07:24:51 PM »
Interesting. I called a couple of the outfitters and they said that anything more than 200cfs will be a struggle going upstream. Though another site said 500cfs is doable. I wonder if maybe they were referring to different gauges? I've been looking at Costolon gauge, but I wonder if after the Terlingua creek meets the Rio Grande that, that increases the cfs considerably by the time it gets to the Costolon gauge.  :eusa_think:

Dunno. Terlingua doesn't flow much most of the year, though it might carry a lot of water after heavy rains like the park's had recently.  I'm guesimating the flow when I went through. I'd been on the river for three days already without access to phone or internet, so I don't know the actual flow rate when I paddled the last bit of the canyon. But I do know Castolon was running above 700 when I set out from Lajitas. The river was flowing strong all through my trip and definitely when I passed through the Rock Slide. 200cfs would be fairly low and I suspect you'd have to do a fair amount of dragging your kayak over sand bars at that level. Then again, I'm not a guide or outfitter and I only hit the river once every few years, so take my feedback with a large grain of salt.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline MDBajzer

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 07:54:04 AM »
No, no, you're quite right. You can check historical gauge readings and around Thanksgiving last year it was indeed around 800cfs. I guess we'll just have to find out when we get there!

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 08:50:40 AM »
No, no, you're quite right. You can check historical gauge readings and around Thanksgiving last year it was indeed around 800cfs. I guess we'll just have to find out when we get there!

Thanks, man!!!! I was thinking of doing that, but you saved me the time. Good to know I wasn't off-base. It sure felt like 800cfs.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 08:54:28 AM »
And please post a trip report after you get back to civilization. I'd love to hear about your experience.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline MDBajzer

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2018, 06:30:16 PM »
I definitely will! It's part of a much larger trip coming from San Francisco and also hitting up Saguaro NP, Chiricahua NM, White Sands NM, and Guadalupe Mts NP. I wrote about a trip I did this summer in the Owens Valley in California if that interests you at all -> http://www.markobajzer.com/blog

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2364
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Ideal cfs for Santa Elena Boomerang Trip?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2018, 07:09:44 PM »
Oooooooooh, you are gonna have sooooooooooo much fun. I've been to all those places and they are magical. That's quite a trip. I look forward to reading your previous trip report!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2018 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments