This trip (along with its sister adventure, Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Westbound has been in the making for six years. I've been dreaming up—nay, plotting—2024 eclipse adventures since the 2017 eclipse’s period of totality concluded.
What’s all this eclipse fuss about? Witnessing a total solar eclipse is unlike any other experience. The temperature drops. The visible colors shift. The sun dims. Bird songs don't fit with the time of day. And then… totality. The moon completely obscures the sun. The sun's corona, the outermost part of its atmosphere—the part we're otherwise unable to see—becomes visible. You’re gonna get goosebumps.
What’s the best location to view the 2024 solar eclipse? Southwestern Texas. There’s a low chance of cloud cover. There’s more than 3-minutes of totality. And it’s a fantastic area for April kayaking and hiking adventures.
I've guided our Big Bend Kayaking & Caverns itinerary for 3 seasons, it’s been our best-selling trip for 2 of those 3 years. Every decision in the design of that adventure was made in service to building the best multi-day backcountry kayak expedition possible. Want to know a secret, though? We left some of the best paddling and hiking in West Texas out because it didn't fit with that trip’s multi-day kayak trip profile.
This trip, Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Eastbound—aside from one campsite location—is entirely different from Big Bend Kayaking & Caverns. We paddle different, breathtaking sections of river. We hike different, stunning trails. And, there’s zero filler in either adventure. If you’ve already completed a Big Bend Kayaking & Caverns trip—or you think you might in the future—this Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking trip won't feel like a repeat.
So, let me tell you about this eclipse adventure: We explore two amazing national parks. We hike in two jaw-dropping mountain ranges. We paddle two scenic rivers. And we experience one once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse.
Here's the rundown: The trip starts with a guided hike in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We explore beneath the striking silhouette of the highest peak in Texas. We continue to the quirky artistic town of Marfa, where opportunities for local barbecue flavors await. Then, we're off to Big Bend National Park to kayak into a canyon with limestone walls that soar a quarter mile above the river. (Seriously!) That’s only two days down. There’s still three to go. We hit our stride hiking in the Chisos Mountains with incredible views of the Chihuahuan Desert before we return to the river to hike the mouth of yet another amazing canyon. We scout for roadrunners on our drive to the Pecos River, where we paddle below Texas' tallest bridge. Our adventure culminates with observing the total solar eclipse from a carefully selected basecamp within the zone of totality.
Be sure to check out both this itinerary and the westbound version. The westbound trip adds one extra day, a Del Rio museum and winery visit, and an opportunity to leave the trip for a personal lunchtime visit to the Mexican village of Boquillas de Carmen. The westbound version also provides higher intensity hiking options, but the base activity level is the same for both trips.
It will be more than 20 years until the next total solar eclipse is visible in the contiguous United States. We've put something special together for April, 2024. Don't miss out. Register today!
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We keep it to no more than 13 adventurers plus 2–3 guides.
We view the total eclipse on day 5 as a larger, combined group with the adventurers on the Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Westbound itinerary.
We spend the first night of the trip in a hotel in Marfa, Texas. The next 2 nights we enjoy dark-sky camping at a comfy Chisos Mountains basecamp in the heart of Big Bend National Park. We camp the final night at a frountcountry campsite selected for optimal viewing of the total solar eclipse. Dome-style tents and self-inflating camping mattresses are provided.
All the included meals are guide-cooked at camp. Bring on the yum!
We paddle single-person sit-on-top touring kayaks on the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers on days 2 and 4 of the trip. All kayaking gear is provided.
We explore breathtaking scenery in Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park.
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 4.
There is a $90 single traveler supplement to cover the cost of a single-person hotel room on the first night.
Load ‘em up and move ‘em out! We rendezvous at gateway hotels near El Paso International Airport at 7:00 AM, then point the van’s tires out of town.
Our destination? Guadalupe Mountains National Park. On our first hike together, we scramble among a wash of boulders at the feet of the imposing mountains. Our goal: reaching the Devil’s Hall, a striking corridor of vertical rock walls. Once back to the van, we dig into a well-deserved, delicious picnic lunch spread—a fantastic start to our trip!
In the afternoon, we make our way to Marfa, Texas, a town known for its art scene and the enigmatic Marfa Lights. Comfy hotel rooms await us, as well as dinner out in town (cost not included).
After a scrumptious breakfast, we hit the open road, bound for the US’ Southern border. We cross the Chihuahuan Desert, keeping our eyes peeled for roadrunners, then descend to the Rio Grande inside Big Bend National Park.
We kayak into Santa Elena Canyon, a magnificent stretch of river with 1,500-foot limestone walls. Feeling utterly swallowed up into the earth, we paddle deeper, approaching the mouth of Fern Canyon. On a gravel bar, we break out camp chairs and sandwiches from our boats, then bask in this amazing place.
Should the river level not permit the Santa Elena paddle, we explore the canyon's majesty from a hiking trail that winds into its mouth.
In late afternoon, we establish camp in the stunning Chisos Basin, before stargazing from the least-light-polluted National Park in the 48 contiguous states.
Another big, yummy breakfast starts the day. We leave our tents pitched, then begin hiking south into the heart of the Chisos Mountains. Sweeping views of vibrant mountains frame the desert and river corridor far below. Our trail gains elevation gradually as the morning progresses.
We enjoy an on-trail picnic lunch, then retrace our steps back to the trailhead.
In the afternoon, we head back to the river, this time in the east corner of the park, miles downstream of Santa Elena Canyon.
Today, we hike Boquillas Canyon Trail to overlook the river, then descend to the water at the mouth of the trail’s namesake canyon. We explore all the way until the canyon walls close in on the Rio Grande’s flow leaving no room for a trail.
We wrap up the day by lathering up and indulge in hot showers (cost not included) at Rio Grande Village, then return to camp for a delicious dinner.
We pack up camp and depart Big Bend National Park to drive to Amistad National Recreation Area, where we kayak the Pecos River.
Our put-in is just upstream of its Rio Grande confluence, beneath the towering Pecos River High Bridge. This, the tallest bridge in Texas, looms 273+ feet above the water and is nearly as breathtaking as the limestone canyon that cradles the river. We kayak upcanyon toward the site of the historic Pecos Viaduct railroad crossing, where engineers from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania devised a means of getting trains across the daunting river gorge in the early 1890's.
We indulge in a sandbar lunch of tomato basil tuna on an everything bagel with garden vegetable cream cheese, before pointing our bows back toward the van.
In late afternoon, we establish our eclipse basecamp and dig into a big meal together.
Today we lounge at our comfy basecamp, enjoy a hot breakfast with the adventurers arriving for the Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Westbound, snack our way through lunch, compete in camp games, paddle in the reservoir that surrounds us, and mentally prepare for the visceral excitement of experiencing the solar eclipse from within the path of totality.
Early afternoon is showtime. We don protective glasses (included), stretch out on camp chairs and camping mattresses, and begin to feel the otherworldly cooling of the midday sun as the moon completely occludes it.
Witnessing the total solar eclipse is an utterly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We won’t stop talking about it for the rest of our time together.
We grill up celebratory cheeseburgers, pack our bags, and bid adieu to the westbound adventurers. We load the van and drive to San Antonio. In the parking lots of airport hotels, we search the internet for the date and location of the next solar eclipse, then say our misty-eyed goodbyes.
Overall, this is a moderate to moderately challenging trip.
Scrambling among large boulders makes the second half of this out-and-back slightly challenging for most adventurers. Turning around before reaching the Devil's Hall provides a 2-mile mild variation that's still a satisfying adventure.
This "boomerang" paddle is only possible at low river levels, which are likely in April. However, if the river is at an extremely low water level, the kayaking becomes moderately challenging because—even in our large, sit-on-top kayaks—we need to get out and walk sections without enough water.
Moderate to Moderately Challenging
5 to 7½ miles
The total elevation gain is significant, but the activity level is moderated by a high qulity trail bed and gradual incline.
On calm days with average April river levels, this is a mild, upstream trip that returns the same way—a "boomerang" paddle. However, the Pecos frequently has strong winds that can make the kayaking slightly challenging to challenging. If conditions are demanding, we'll shorten the kayaking route.
Mild to Challenging
5 to 9 miles
2 Guided Kayak Trips
Paddle stunning sections of the Pecos River and Rio Grande.
3 Guided Hikes
Explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park.
Services of 2–3 Bad Adventures Guides
Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.
4 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, and 3 Dinners
We’re talking gourmet, guide-cooked camp meals.
4 Nights of Spectacular Tent Camping
We stay at beautiful sites! Sturdy, dome-style tents and camping mattresses are included.
1 Night of Hotel Accommodations
Double occupancy is included.
Kayak & Paddling Gear
We'll bring a single-person sit-on-top touring kayak, paddle, lifejacket, and dry bag for your use.
Transportation in Texas
Ride from El Paso to San Antonio in a snazzy passenger van.
National Park Admission and All Permits
Sit back and relax! We’ve got the red tape covered.
Protect your eyeballs while staring at the sun in stylish protective eyewear.
Medical kit, satellite phone, navigation supplies, and more.
Airfare and other travel expenses to get to and from the trip, hotel accommodations before and after the trip, dinner on day 1 in Marfa, optional shower on day 3, single traveler supplement, your personal clothing and gear on the packing list, travel insurance, and guide gratuity.
We put together a recommended packing list with all the clothing and gear you need for the trip.
We can pick you up from any of the following gateway hotels near El Paso International Airport between 7:00 AM and 7:15 AM on the first morning.
We can drop you off at any of the hotels near San Antonio International Airport listed as meeting locations on the westbound sister trip's webpage. Our San Antonio arrival time will be entirely eclipse traffic-dependent. It may be as early as late afternoon or well into the evening. Don't book a flight home earlier than 11:30 PM the day the trip ends.
There’s no wrong choice! Both itineraries are fantastic. Both itineraries have the same baseline activity level.
The westbound version is one day longer, costs slightly more, and includes frontier museum and winery stops in Del Rio, as well as an optional opportunity to depart the organized adventure for a personal trip across the border to the Mexican village of Boquillas de Carmen at lunchtime.
The westbound version also provides additional hiking options to reach summits that required greater activity levels. Specifically, it includes options for guided hikes to the summits of Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains. However, these are both optional hikes. You won’t feel left out on the westbound version if you expect to prefer only moderate activity levels.
Day 5 of this eastbound adventure doubles as day 1 of the westbound adventure. The entire combined group experiences the eclipse together after the westbound adventurers arrive to their trip and before the eastbound adventurers depart their trip.
Absolutely! 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.
Nope. It’s flatware paddling. Expect class I to class I+ river conditions.
Weather varies, but we expect daytime highs in the 70’s to high 80's when we’re paddling. The best forecasts to check for padding days are Rio Grande Village, TX and Del Rio, TX.
When hiking and camping in the mountains, we expect daytime highs in the 60's and night time lows in the 30's. As your trip approaches, check the forecasts for Pine Springs, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Chisos Mountains, TX.
Nah. That’s unlikely. This trip is solo adventurer friendly!
We can accommodate many common food allergies, sensitivities, and dietary requirements. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.
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 helps keep you protected.
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.
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