After sleeping in and feasting on homemade pancakes, we decided to try paddling the Rio Grande. The Visitors Center in town didn’t really have much river intel when we asked, so we decided to just wing it and go. We launched our paddleboards from camp and headed upstream first, figuring worst case, if it was bad we’d just turn around and come back. The river is only accessible from a handful of spots and other than those, the steep river banks are thickly lined with grasses, and pokey bushes. Summer is high water flow in Texas due to the monsoon season. Being February, the water level was pretty low. We had to take off the main fin of our boards so they wouldn’t scrape on rocks in the more shallow sections. In a few places the water level was so low it required us to get off and wade through shallow areas before continuing on. We paddled up and then back for a total of about 3 hours and enjoyed the solitude.
Another day we drove a couple miles and put in at La Cuesta. This access point allowed us to paddle a different section of the Rio Grande, one where the water is deeper. As we paddled, turtles that were sunning themselves on the banks would quietly slip into the water and disappeared. We must have seen at least a dozen of them, some around a foot in size! We were not able to get any pictures of them, but we saw countless pyrrhuloxia or desert cardinals, indigenous to northern Mexico and the southwest. They aren’t bright red like the ones we saw in Arizona; these are grey with red highlights on their body and face. Of the two days paddling, this was my favorite with long quite stretches of nothing but scenery.