Description - In 1978, Congress designated a 196-mile portion of the Rio Grande from the Chihuahua/Coahuila state line in Mexico to the Terrell/Val Verde county line in Texas as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The upper 69-mile section of this 196-mile corridor lies within Big Bend National Park. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 directs that designated rivers "...be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of the present and future generations." Big Bend National Park administers this 196-mile section as the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.
The NPSs jurisdiction on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River downstream from the park boundary includes only the river area from the United States/Mexico international boundary in the middle of the deepest channel to the gradient boundary at the edge of the river on the United States side. The gradient boundary, as recognized by the state of Texas, is defined as located midway between the lower level of the flowing water that just reaches the cut bank and the higher level of it that just does not overtop the cut bank. The river bed of the section of the Wild and Scenic River downstream from the park is the property of the state of Texas.
The stretch of river is classified as either wild or scenic. Wild sections are defined as "...those rivers or sections of river that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watershed or shorelines essentially primitive and water unpolluted...these represent vestiges of primitive America...." Scenic sections pertain to "...those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads...."
The following sections are classified as wild: Talley to Solis, which includes Mariscal Canyon; the entrance to Boquillas Canyon to the exit of Boquillas Canyon; and Reagan Canyon to San Francisco Canyon (the bulk of the "Lower Canyons"). The remainder of the Wild and Scenic River is classified as scenic.
Rio Grande Wild and Scenic Rivers Purpose:
* To preserve the free-flowing condition, except as provided by international treaties, and essentially primitive character of the river.
* To protect the scenic, geologic, fish and wildlife, recreational, scientific, and other similar values along the river way.
* To provide opportunities for river-oriented recreation, which is dependent upon the free-flowing condition of the river and consistent with the primitive character of the surroundings.
- The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River is a free-flowing river with a sufficient volume of water during normal years to permit full enjoyment of river recreational activities.
The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River is part of a valuable ecological system that represents the major riparian and aquatic habitat associated with the Chihuahuan Desert. Its isolation has created an outpost for rapidly dwindling and irreplaceable natural resources.
The spectacular river canyons, the primitive character of the river, and its international flavor provide a stimulating environment for a high quality recreational and scenic experience.
A valuable opportunity exists for binational cooperation between the United States and Mexico to protect and manage this outstanding primitive resource.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities to this are a either directly related to the water such a canoe trips and or kayaking, or viewing the areas natural beauty.
Climate - Sunshine is abundant year-round on the Rio Grande. While this sounds welcoming, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are dangers to guard against during the hot months. Conversely, hypothermia is a life-threatening danger during the balance of the year. Infrequent and brief periods of cloudy weather are confined mostly to the winter months. Appropriate clothing and other gear should be carried from November through April as cold fronts can bring freezing weather with rain or snow. The "rainy season" extends from mid-July through early October and can result in locally heavy thunderstorms and flash floods. Rapid river rises can be dangerous for water users if unprepared. Relative humidity is normally between 25% - 40% year around.
This large national preserve extends northward from the Rio Grande in southwestern Texas. It is accessible from U.S. Highway 385 and Texas State Highway 118.