Photo from a trip in November, 2021

Big Bend Kayaking & Caverns

El Paso, TX

Paddle the Rio Grande and explore breathtaking landscapes on this fall trip

Autumn escape? Check. Off-season, all-skill-levels-welcome expedition kayaking? Check. Soaring 1,200-foot canyon walls and stunning scenery? Check. This is a good one, people!

This adventure follows in the footsteps of our crowd-pleasing Utah Kayaking & Arches Hiking trips. We kick-off with a visit to breathtaking Carlsbad Caverns, before making our way to the Rio Grande River for a three-day paddle through Boquillas Canyon. The kayaking is straight-forward with class I-II riffles, but features absolutely jaw-dropping views. We relish two nights of riverside backcountry camping under the stars.

Did I mention there are hot springs? On our final two days, we take on a pair of hikes in the Chisos Mountains, soak in hot springs along the river, and return to a comfy basecamp each night.

Join me to get your adventure-fix in October or November. Register today!

Matt Stan Bad Adventures founder

Is this for me?

Small Group

We keep it to no more than 12 adventurers plus 2 guides.


We spend the first night of the trip in a hotel in Alpine, TX. The second and third nights we enjoy dark-sky camping in the backcountry on our self-supported kayak expedition. The final two nights we relax at a comfy Chisos Mountains basecamp in the heart of Big Bend National Park. Dome-style backpacking tents and self-inflating camping mattresses are provided.


Most of our meals are cooked together at camp. Your guides have prepared scrumptious recipes, will provision the trip, and lead meal preparations. This is sure to be a tasty affair!


We paddle single-person sit-on-top touring kayaks on days 2–4 of the trip. The physical activity is mild, but the paddling is sustained for a few hours each day. All kayaking gear is provided.


On our final two days, we explore Big Bend National Park. The scenery is jaw-dropping.

Traveling solo?

This trip works well for couples, friends, and solo travelers. The adventures we plan attract like-minded people. Odds are, you'll enjoy the company of your fellow travelers.

We provide solo travelers with cosy single-person tents for nights 2 through 5.

There is a $79 single traveler supplement to cover the cost of a single-person hotel room on the first night.

Moderate to Slightly Challenging





2024 Dates

  • October 30 November 4
  • November 9 November 14

$449 to reserve your spot today!

Balance due 60 days before the trip.

Possible change of plans? You can cancel for a full refund until 90 days before the trip.

Here’s the plan…

Carlsbad Caverns Day 1

We head to Carlsbad Caverns in the Guadalupe Mountains for a self-guided exploration of one of the highest-rated national parks in the US. We descend 750-feet via the Natural Entrance on our way to The Big Room, the largest subterranean chamber in North America! This limestone-topped gallery is gigantic (it’s over 4,000-feet long with up to 250-foot ceilings!) and positively otherworldly. We return to the surface via elevator. No uphill hiking!

After dinner at a restaurant, our day concludes at our cute hotel in the town of Alpine, Texas. We organize our gear into the provided dry bags and prepare for our paddling expedition.

Meals Included: Lunch

Boquillas Canyon Kayaking Days 2-4

We drive to our put-in at Rio Grande Village and finish arranging the gear for our 3-day self-supported kayak expedition. We load our boats and set off to explore 36-miles of the Rio Grande. Each day we're treated to dramatic landscapes along the Texas/Mexico border, full of distant mountains and soaring canyon walls.

Nights are spent sandbar camping along the river. Dark skies punctuated by bright stars provide a breathtaking canopy.

The kayaking is straightforward class I to class II river conditions, suitable for both new and experienced paddlers.

Upon reaching the take-out, we load the van, drive into the Chisos Mountains, and establish our basecamp for the final two nights of the trip.

Meals Included: 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, and 3 Dinners

Chisos Mountains & Hot Springs Day 5

After a hearty eggs and bacon breakfast, we set off to hike Big Bend National Park’s Window Trail. We descend to the bottom of Chisos Basin on a hike full of desert panoramic views. Our destination is an incredible rock featured called “The Window."

Later in the day, we roll the van back to Rio Grande Village for a half mile hike to soak in natural hot springs along the Rio Grande River. This is the life!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Lost Mine Trail Day 6

On our last day, we rise early for a morning dawn hike on Lost Mine Trail, exploring east from our base in the Chisos Mountains. We're rewarded with breathtaking views from dramatic rock outcroppings.

All good things must come to an end. Upon our return to the trailhead, we load up the van and point the wheels back toward El Paso.

Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

How intense is this?

Overall, this is a moderate to slightly challenging trip.

Day 1

Carlsbad Caverns Self-Guided Tour

At a leisurely pace, we walk downhill on a paved trail descending into the caverns.



1¼ miles

Route Type


Elevation Loss

750 feet

Days 2–4

Boquillas Canyon Kayaking

We encounter straightforward class 1 to class 2 river conditions. If the water level is low, we get in and out of our boats to work through shallow sections. Possible headwinds can make this paddle more challenging, as well.

Mild to Moderately Challenging


10 to 15 miles per day

Total Distance

36 miles

Day 5

Hike to Hot Springs



½ miles

Day 5

Window Trail Hike

Elevation loss and gain is gradual and sustained.



5¼ miles

Route Type


Elevation Gain

650 feet

Elevation Loss

650 feet

Starting Elevation

5,100 feet

Day 6

Lost Mine Trail Hike

Elevation gain and loss are sustained.



5 miles

Route Type


Elevation Gain

1,100 feet

Elevation Loss

1,100 feet

Starting Elevation

5,700 feet

What’s included?

3-Day, 2-Night Kayak Expedition

Fully guided paddling trip on a class I-II river section.

1 Night of Hotel Accommodations

Double occupancy is included.

4 Nights of Spectacular Tent Camping

We stay at beautiful sites! Tents and camping mattresses are included.

Kayak & Paddling Gear

We'll bring a single-person sit-on-top touring kayak, paddle, lifejacket, dry bags, and more for you to use!

Services of a Guide or Two

Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.

5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, and 4 Dinners

We’re talking about meticulously planned yummy provisions.

National Park Admission and All Permits

Sit back and relax! We've got the red tape covered.

Transportation in Texas and New Mexico

Ride in style in a comfortable Ford Transit passenger van.

Group Gear

Medical kit, satellite phone, navigation supplies, and more.

Not Included:

Your flights or other transportation to and from El Paso, your accommodations the night before and the night after the trip, dinner on day 1, your personal clothing and gear on the packing list, travel insurance, and guide gratuity.

The perfect mix of kayaking and hiking. The side trip to the Carlsbad Caverns is so worth it. It was amazing to hike 3 miles deep into the earth. Big Bend is so remote it requires a 3 hour drive from the Hotel in Alpine, TX but also totally worth it. Once you make one of these trips I bet you will be back for more. Matt has backcountry camping down to a science. You will learn a lot and have a great time. You simply gotta go!

Jim O. from West Chester, PA
after a trip in November, 2021

What should I pack?

We put together a recommended packing list with all the clothing and gear you need for the trip.

Where do we meet?

Where does the trip end?

Bad Adventures will drop you off at either the El Paso International Airport or any of our recommended hotels between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. If flying out the night the trip ends, we do not recommend booking a flight before 10:00 PM.


There are no significant moving water features on the stretch of Rio Grande we’re paddling. Expect class I to class II river paddling conditions.

It’s no problem if this is your first kayaking trip! Our guides have decades of experience and will provide paddling instruction, beginning with the absolute basics.

Experienced swaggering river rat? You’ll fit in well, too.

Weather varies, but we expect daytime highs in the 70's and nighttime lows in the 40's when we are on the river. In anticipation for your trip, check the weather for Rio Grande Village, TX for the first portion of the trip.

For the hiking portion of the trip, we expect daytime highs in the 60's and night time lows in the 30's. As your trip approaches, check the weather forecast for Chisos Mountains, TX to gage the temperatures for the final portion of our trip.

Carlsbad Cavern is always 56-degrees inside.

Absolutely. Please contact us to let us know what you’re packing so we can plan accordingly.

We tent camp nights 2–5 of the trip. Our first 2 nights of camping are spent in the backcountry on beaches along the Rio Grande river. We set up a comfortable basecamp in the heart of Big Bend National Park for our final 2 nights.

Dome-style backpacking tents and self-inflating camping mattresses are provided.

Nah. That’s pretty unlikely. This trip is solo traveler friendly!

We can accommodate many common food allergies, sensitivities, and dietary requirements. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.

You can reserve your spot today by paying a $399 deposit. The balance is due 60 days before the trip. Be sure to read the complete Trip and Course Policies.

We only advertise trips we plan to operate. Since our founding in 2013, Bad Adventures has never canceled a multi-day trip. However, we must reserve the right to do so. Be sure to review our Trip and Course Policies and purchase Travel Insurance.

We recommend taking out a travel insurance policy. Bad Adventures reserves the right to cancel trips and a travel insurance policy keeps you protected. See the Travel Insurance Page for more information.

There's no cancellation fee if you decide to cancel 90 days or more before the trip and we'll even refund your deposit! However, if you cancel less than 90-days before the trip, your deposit is nonrefundable. Additionally, there are significant cancellation fees if you decide to cancel your registration 59 days or less before the trip. Be sure to read the complete Trip and Course Policies.

The parts of Carlsbad Caverns that we visit are quite spacious. Experiencing a sense of claustrophobia in the caverns is unlikely.

Let’s do this!

$449 to reserve your spot today

Wednesday, October 30 Monday, November 4, 2024
Saturday, November 9 Thursday, November 14, 2024

Balance due 60 days before the trip.

Possible change of plans? You can cancel for a full refund until 90 days before the trip.

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