At the southeastern edge of Big Bend is Santa Elena Canyon. Through this canyon flows the Rio Grande River, with Mexico on one side and the United States of America on the other. My first visit to this canyon was as a college newspaper photographer/geology student in the mid-1980s. The newspaper paid my way and the trip was credited as part of my geology curriculum.
A few days after that visit and a few hundred yards further into the canyon than we had traveled, American tourists were shot to death by drug runners. While that’s the only incidence of that sort that I know about, I’m sure all sorts of deviltry occurs along that border. I would also say that about 99.99% of any problems are of no concern to the visiting hiker.
But it is that other 0.01% for which one should be prepared—especially if traveling very far afield of the usual trails. Federal law dictates what may not be taken into Big Bend, but frankly I’d rather be a living scofflaw than a dead citizen. I wouldn’t presume to advise a person in this regard, but I myself am a careful (prepared) person… Just saying…
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