Closed Canyon Trail, in Big Bend Ranch State Park


About halfway between Presidio and Terlingua, on the River Road in Big Bend Ranch State Park, the road takes a turn away from the edge of the Rio Grande.  A small mountain range separates the highway from the water, but there’s a narrow slice through those hills at Closed Canyon.

From the trailhead on the River Road, the hike begins with a trek across the dry desert floor.  You’ll have to go down a small hill (and climb back up it on the return trip — something that’s more challenging than it should be, thanks to the intense heat that you’ll often find here). Your destination is obvious — it’s that big divide in the middle of the hill.

The trail drops down into a dry wash (pay attention to where you enter the wash, so you can find the trail again on the way out), and the wash leads into the canyon.

Thankfully, at least some parts of Closed Canyon will provide you with some shelter from the sun.  The canyon twists and turns, so every hundred feet or so…

… you round another corner, and get a new view.

The floor of Closed Canyon is sandy, but most of the time you can walk on the rocks and avoid the extra struggle of hiking through the gravel and dirt.

I didn’t hike all the way to the Rio Grande, but I’ve read comments from others who say there are some steep drops that require some scrambling near the far end of Closed Canyon.  Don’t climb down unless you’re sure you can climb back up.  And of course, don’t enter the canyon at all if it’s storming anywhere nearby, since a flash flood could sweep through the canyon, taking you to Mexico.

On the way out, I spent a few moments enjoying the scenery in the dry wash.  Okay, I was actually hunting for the spot where the trail exits the wash, since I forgot to pay attention earlier in the hike.

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