This trip (along with its sister adventure, Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Eastbound 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 Westbound—aside from one campsite location and a hot springs visit—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 adventure beings with the excitement of witnessing the total solar eclipse from a carefully selected basecamp in the zone of totality. We paddle beneath Texas’ tallest bridge on the Pecos River, then checkout a frontier museum and visit the state’s oldest continuously operating winery. We watch for roadrunners on our way to Big Bend National Park, where we hike to the mouth of an breathtaking river canyon and explore the Chisos Mountains with incredible views of the Chihuahuan Desert. The paddling’s not over yet, though! We put kayaks in the Rio Grande and paddle into a canyon with limestone walls that—with no exaggeration—soar a quarter mile over our heads! We spend a night in the quirky artistic town of Marfa, then close out the adventure with exploring the Guadalupe Mountains. Wowsers!
Be sure to check out both this itinerary and the eastbound version. Compared to the other version, this westbound itinerary adds one extra day, the 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. This version also provides higher intensity summit 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 1 as a larger, combined group with the adventurers on the Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Eastbound itinerary.
We spend the first 2 nights of the trip at a frountcountry campsite selected for optimal viewing of the total solar eclipse. On nights 3 and 4, we enjoy dark-sky camping at a comfy Chisos Mountains basecamp in the heart of Big Bend National Park. The final night of the trip is spent in a hotel in Marfa, Texas. 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 Pecos River and Rio Grande on days 2 and 5 of the trip. All kayaking gear is provided.
We explore breathtaking scenery in Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains 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 adventurers with cosy single-person tents for nights 1 through 4.
There is a $90 single traveler supplement to cover the cost of a single-person hotel room on the fifth night.
We meet at our gateway hotels near San Antonio International Airport at 4:00 AM for a pre-dawn road trip to our eclipse basecamp, where a hot breakfast spread (as well as the adventures completing the Total Eclipse Kayaking & Hiking Eastbound itinerary) await.
The morning is spent competing in camp games, paddling in the reservoir that surrounds us, and mentally preparing 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 before bidding adieu to the eastbound adventurers.
We leave camp set up and depart for a day trip on 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.
After a pitstop at camp to change, we head to the Whitehead Memorial Museum to learn about life on the frontier, then continue to a tasting at the oldest continuously operating winery in Texas.
The day concludes with dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, offering a taste of regional cuisine (cost not included).
We pack up camp and load the van, bound for Big Bend National Park.
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.
At lunchtime, you may choose to leave the trip for an optional, unguided visit across the border to Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico, for a meal at Jose Falcon's Restaurant & Bar. US or Canadian passports or passport cards are required and costs associated with visiting Mexico are not included.
Adventurers who elect to not leave the trip for a foreign country are treated to a scrumptious picnic and soak in natural hot springs along the Rio Grande.
Once reunited, we enjoy optional showers (cost not included), then establish camp in the stunning Chisos Basin, before stargazing from the least-light-polluted National Park in the 48 contiguous states.
After breakfast, we depart on a trail near camp into the heart of the Chisos Mountains. Sweeping views of the vibrant high country frame the desert and Rio Grande corridor far below. We gain elevation gradually and are treated to increasingly spectacular vistas.
An optional, very challenging hike continues to the summit of Emory Peak, the highest point in Big Bend National Park. Woo-hoo! Prefer to skip the extra miles and elevation gain? Relax in the sun with other adventurers who prefer a more restful day while the “Energizer Bunnies” of the group claim the summit.
Once together again, we retrace our steps back to the trailhead and return to camp.
We pack up camp, then head back down to the Rio Grande. This time, in the west corner of Big Bend National Park, miles upstream of Boquillas Canyon.
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 the afternoon, we drive to Marfa, Texas, known for its unique art scene and mysterious lights. Comfy hotel rooms await, as well as dinner out in town (cost not included).
On our final day, we drive to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. You have a choice of two adventures: Want to undertake an extremely challenging hike to incredible views from the highest point in Texas? Guadalupe Peak is for you! Or would you prefer an only slightly challenging hike among otherworldly scenery? The Devil's Hall hike is for you!
Adventurers heading for Guadalupe Peak depart with day packs loaded. It’s a gigantic, 4+ hour hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain to the top. Yikes! Amazing views (and yummy Bad Adventures snacks) fuel us along the way.
Looking for a milder day? The second option is also fantastic. We scramble among a wash of boulders at the feet of the imposing mountains to reach the Devil’s Hall, a striking corridor of vertical rock walls.
Once reunited, we enjoy a final late lunch together of roast beef and Swiss sandwiches. In the afternoon, we start getting misty-eyed over the trip coming to an end as we drive to El Paso to say our goodbyes at hotels near the airport.
Overall, this is a moderate to very challenging trip.
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
The total elevation gain is significant, but the activity level is moderated by a high quality trail bed and gradual incline.
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
While the trail surface quality is good and the elevation gain is evenly sustained, there’s no getting around the fact that the peak is 3,000 feet higher than the trailhead. This is a significant mountain hike. The out-and-back itinerary does permit an early turn-around with fantastic views along the way. The Devil's Hall hike option is a much milder activity level.
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.
2 Guided Kayak Trips
Paddle stunning sections of the Pecos River and Rio Grande.
3 Guided Hikes
Explore Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Services of 2–3 Bad Adventures Guides
Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.
6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, and 3 Dinners
We’re talking gourmet, guide-cooked camp meals.
5 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 San Antonio to El Paso 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 2 in Del Rio, dinner on day 5 in Marfa, expenses associated with leaving the trip for an optional personal excursion to Boquillas del Carmen, 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 San Antonio International Airport between 4:00 AM and 4:15 AM on the first morning.
We can drop you off at any of the hotels near El Paso International Airport listed as meeting locations on the eastbound sister trip's webpage. Please don't book a flight home earlier than 10:30 PM the day the trip ends.
There’s no wrong choice! Both itineraries are fantastic. Both itineraries have the same baseline activity level.
Compared to the eastbound trip, 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 1 of this westbound adventure doubles as day 5 of the eastbound trip. 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 $449 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.
$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.
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