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Big Bend Ranch State Park, TX: Closed Canyon

Descend into Closed Canyon’s slot for a 1.4-mile round-trip trek from Big Bend’s scenic River Road toward the Mexican border and the raging Rio Grande.

Trip Tools

From the roadside trailhead, this route descends a small igneous rock hill and follows a wash through open scrub typical of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert. You’ll descend into a deeper draw, turning left toward the canyon entrance—an imposing 100-foot slot—about 250 yards from the road.
Inside the canyon, the path is easy to follow; you’ll hike across smooth rock with bars of small gravel around occasional puddles. As you continue south, the walls narrow and there are deep depressions created by rapidly flowing water. Depending on recent rains the depressions, known locally as tinajas (the Spanish word for jar), may contain fairly deep water and the pools could make scrambling or wading necessary to continue.
After the second tinaja, the canyon begins dropping steeply toward the Rio Grande with larger and larger steps (10, 12, 25, then 50 feet in height) that require rappelling gear to descend. Without the extra gear, plan to turn around about 0.75 miles from the road.
Caution: Check weather forecasts before tackling the hike, steep canyon walls leave no escape routes and flash floods are possible.
-Mapped by Melissa Gaskill

To Trailhead

From I-10 west of Fort Stockton, take exit 248 and drive 55 miles south on US 67. Turn left onto TX 118, continue another 77.7 miles, then turn right onto Ranch Road 170. Drive 36.8 miles to the Closed Canyon Trailhead on the left.

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