We use commercial grade rafts equipped with a metal frame and oars. Our guides are stationed in the middle of the raft and, with two long oars, navigate the boat downstream. Guests ride in the front and rear compartments of the raft and are generally not involved in the steering or maneuvering of the boat. This option is very popular for folks wanting to just relax and enjoy the ride. These rafts can hold up to 6 guests plus a guide comfortably, however we generally run four guests plus a guide for more roominess.
We can offer a guided paddle raft for those groups wanting to more exercise and interaction with steering the boat. Instead of the oars in the middle of the boat, everyone on board has a paddle and is instrumental in navigating the boat downstream. Our guide, with paddle, steers the raft from the back. This option is rarely used in Big Bend except during high water periods or for short trips such as the half-day or one day float.
Our 17' canoes, made by We-no-nah and Old Town seat two guests comfortably along with personal gear. At lower water levels, canoes go easily where inflatable rafts cannot. Canoeing the Rio Grande does not require any previous experience or an Olympic fitness level - just a willingness to paddle. Beginning canoeists and those who haven't paddled since summer camp days will receive a short introductory lesson from our experienced staff in order to help keep your canoe moving straight. We provide close proximity, on-river support to paddlers, and encourage those who want a little more excitement during their trip to try out a canoe!
Inflatable Kayaks (aka "Duckies")
We carry both tandem and solo Aire inflatable kayaks for those wanting to paddle their own craft without gear. The Duckies are great fun during the warmer months as guests get an "up close and personal" look at the river! Duckies are a "wetter" boat meaning guests will not be as dry as they might be if they were paddling a canoe. Duckies are a great addition on the half-day, one day and occasionally, the overnight float trip. Duckies are also much more forgiving than canoes in terms of handling, but they do not do well at very low water levels.