Ah! The multi-day trip on the Rio Grande. What a perfect way to spend 2, 3, 5 or more days in solitude. Here are several things that will help you prepare for your adventure:
Where to Meet: Far Flung Outdoor Center (get directions)
Departure Time: 8:30 a.m. Please plan to arrive by 8:15 a.m. This will give you time to make final packing arrangements or shop for last minute supplies in the Far Flung retail store.
Return Time (to Far Flung Outdoor Center): Approximately 3-4 p.m. on the last day.
Method of Travel: Canoe or Raft, depending on water levels.
Canyon That Can Be Floated in 2 Days: Santa Elena
Canyons That Can Be Floated in 3-5 Days: Santa Elena, Mariscal (certain restrictions apply), Boquillas
Far Flung Provides: Guides, river equipment, all meals, waterproof bags, tents, park use fees, and shuttle service to and from the river.
You Provide: Sleeping bag, pad and personal gear (see packing list).
Difficulty: Easy; paddling required on trips traveling by canoe.
Recommended Minimum Age: 6
What to Expect on a Multi-Day River Trip:
We want your adventure in the Big Bend to generate life long memories, so we're going to do our level best to insure that your vacation is as comfortable, safe and fun as we can make it. Far Flung has been operating in the Big Bend for 35 years and we're very proud of our heritage as outdoor guides.
Since your safety is our number one priority, we would be remiss if we did not talk just a little bit about some of the things involved in outdoor travel.
Participating in any adventure outdoors, involves a certain amount of risk, physical exertion and exposure to the environment in the form of heat, cold, wind or rain. We don't enjoy running a trip in the wind or rain, but we understand that those elements are part of what makes traveling in the wild so much fun. You just never know what mother nature will do! Most of the time, we are rewarded with spectacular sunrises and sunsets, good weather and perfect conditions.
We have taken over 25,000 guests on some sort of outdoor adventure and our staff is experienced in accommodating a wide range of physical, medical and health limitations, but ultimately the decision to participate is yours (and your physician's, if applicable). While we don't want to be nosy, please understand that because medical resources are limited in the backcountry, we encourage you to let us know your pertinant medical and health limitations. By the way, our staff first aid training meets or exceeds the minimum requirement established by the Park Service. Each guide in a boat with guests has at least a 40 hour Wilderness Medicine certification.
While this list is not all inclusive, here are some of the physical requirements participants will need to meet:
* Fit into a Type 5 personal floation device (known as a PFD or "life jacket") with a maximum chest size of 52". PFD's are critical river running gear and are required by the National Park Service.
* Be able to climb into and out of a raft or canoe which may have wet or slippery surfaces.
* Navigate uneven terrain on hikes, at camp and by the river's edge.
* Carry your own dry bag, sleeping bag and pad.
* Use an outdoor, non-flushing, chemical toilet.
* Willingness to wear a hat, sufficient clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's rays.
* When the trip is run in canoes, a willingness and ability to paddle - not Olympic style - for extended periods.
A Typical Day on the River:
Upon arrival at our offices, you will be issued two waterproof bags. The larger of the two bags will carry all of your clothing, sleeping bag and other camp essentials. This bag will be stored away and available to you upon arrival at camp. The second and smaller bag will serve as your "river purse" and in it will go items you need during the day such as sunscreen, sunglasses, extra clothing, rain jacket, medications and other personal items.
After meeting our guides and a quick round of introductions, we'll board one of our 15 passenger vans for the 30 minute ride to the river (this can vary depending on the canyon to be floated).
Arriving at the put-in, the guides will take a little time to rig and load their boats while properly fitting you with a PFD (personal flotation device -more commonly known as a "life jacket"). This is a great time for you to meet fellow guests and ask questions of our staff.
Since safety is our number one objective - followed by fun - we'll take a few more minutes to brief you and the other guests about specific river safety topics.
Pushing off the bank, we'll begin to make our way downstream. If we are in rafts this day, our guides will do the rowing (although you are welcome to try your hand at it!) and if the river levels dictate canoes or duckies, you'll be the master and commander of your boat! Yes, this means paddling. Nothing hard core, just nice easy strokes coached, if needed, by our staff.
Sharing stories about the river and Big Bend is what we're all about, so stay close to our guides if you like tales of the outdoors. We encourage you to bring a camera and a pair of binoculars along for the ride.
We'll stop for lunch somewhere along this river journey. A typical lunch includes a make your own sandwich buffet complete with deli meats, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and condiments. Chips, salsa, dips, fresh fruit and cookies round out the picnic. Iced tea, lemonade and water will be plentiful.
After several more hours on the river, we'll make our first camp along the river. We know the river very well, so our staff will pick out the best, sandy camp for the group size. We'll give a demonstration on how to set up your tent (which we furnish) and provide additional assistance in getting your camp nice and cozy.
While you relax, swim, read or hike, the FFOC guides will begin to prepare dinner which will include a meat, fish or poultry entree, vegetables, side salads, desert, a little wine and plenty of iced tea, lemonade and water.
At bedtime, you may choose to sleep outside under the stars (we have the best in North America!) or in your tent. There is nothing like the fresh air and sound of the river to put you to sleep!
Morning brings coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice, fruit and a full camp breakfast prepared by our staff. After breakfast, while the guides load equipment into boats, you'll have time to pack your personal belongings, tent and other items for another day on the Rio Grande.
Each day brings something new to see or explore. One day, many years ago, we actually saw a black bear cross a shallow part of the river. Now, we can't promise that every time, but hopefully you get the picture!
On our last river day, we'll reverse the put-in process and take a few minutes to re-load gear into our vans and trailers. The drive back to Far Flung will take about one hour (varies depending on which canyon we traveled).
Back at the Far Flung office, you'll have time to unpack your gear, say good-bye to new friends or shop for mementos in the Flung retail store. If you are staying over in Terlingua that night, don't forget to talk to us about cabin lodging right here on campus!
Passports and Other Documentation:
You will NOT need a passport or any form of identification to float the Rio Grande, however due to Homeland Security regulations, we won't be stopping on the Mexican side of the river for hikes, snacks or other activities.
If you are NOT a U.S. citizen we strongly advise you to bring your passport, visa or other related documentation which will not be required on the river, but will be needed to clear Border Patrol checkpoints on your way out of the Big Bend area.