Town - Boquillas
& Boquillas Del Carmen
A FLATBOAT NAMED
the Rio Grande at Boquillas
Shortly after this
article was written, the crossing was closed and the current status
is unknown. Calls to the National Park were not returned, so visitors
should be warned that the area is often used for drug smuggling. -
Editor, February 2006
The river at
the crossing, burro ride, and Boquillas
We've read about
the crossing at Boquillas for years. How you travel two miles up a
mountain and there's nothing but a cantina at the top. Something about
mules and boats - it was all pretty vague and uninviting. Until you
get there. There's something very Steinbeckesque about it. Cannery
Rowish or Tortilla Flatish. Of course, if Steinbeck had written about
it, it would now be a theme park. A park with Red Ponies and George
and Lenny with rabbits frolicking in huge oversized heads.
just present the facts, we decided that for our readers, we'd brave
the currents and fill in the detail the other guides have left out.
We're here to tell you that for adventurous types, it's a pretty
dull trip. For un-adventurous types it's still pretty dull. The
hand-pulled ferry at
Ebanos is more interesting from a technical / mechanical point
of view, but Boquillas has more color, a nicer view and besides,
is about 400 miles down river.
Spring and bathhouse ruins
On the way to
Boquillas, if time permits, you should take the time to visit the
Hot Spring (follow the signs). It's worth the drive and the
walk is easy and enjoyable even in mid-summer.
We were told the bathhouse over the springs was blown up by the
former owner when the National Park acquirred ownership. Others
say it was destroyed by a flood in 1938. The complete story is told
in the highly recommended book: Taking
the Waters in Texas by Janet Mace Valenza, University
of Texas Press, 2000.
on the way to Hot Springs
The boat ride
across the Rio Grande
The signage in
the park is adequate to get you to the parking lot at the crossing
at Boquillas. When you reach the lot and you don't see someone immediately,
just start down the path to the river toward the screams. Just kidding!
and the burro ride to Boquillas
The boat as we mentioned in our title is named La Enchilada for some
reason known only to the boatman and of course, the other villagers.
Fare is $2 per person round trip. Be sure to pay for the "whole enchilada."
The actual boat ride takes about 20 seconds and if they had another
boat, they could just put them bow to stern and one could walk across.
The depth of the river in early September was about 2.5 feet due to
This is not always the case. Mrs. Marquart of Sanderson
has seen local boys diving to retrieve the boat after heavy rains
have swept it downstream. Mrs. Marquart, Mr. Norris and
other Sandersonians visit frequently, bringing clothes, school supplies
and even desks to the schoolchildren of Boquillas.
Boquillas has about 180 people from about 25 families. That's what
we were told. There is no electricity in Boquillas; everything runs
on propane. The two-mile trip is in truth closer to ¾ of a mile.
riders can easily be tied in place.
Two animal providers
await you on the Mexican side. One has burros only and the other
has burros and burritos, horses and horsitos.
We took a horse and a burro - one from each "stable." The animals
are docile, healthy and well watered. You can ride them yourself,
or for a few dollars more, a guide will walk with the animal, holding
the reins for you. If you insist and pay them more, I'm sure the
guide could be talked into riding, while you walk behind. The rate
was $4 per animal - for one hour. That's enough time to ride to
the top, have a tepid beverage and/or something to eat and ride
Hitching Post in Downtown Boquillas
you near the village, tables of quartz and other minerals are put
out to catch your eye. The cubic shapes and translucence of the quartz
makes it look like pink, hard Jell-o.
Upon arrival the animals are tied to a hitching post 10 yards from
a store/restaurant with a fine view.
The Cantina is 100 yards further up the hillfollow the music.
Boquillas has a tranquillity lacking in other border towns. The population
has worked out a system that seems to work well for all concerned.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the trip (if your horse doesn't
wander off into the verdant and prickly riverside growth) is watching
swimming alongside "La Enchilada"
Lobo is a waterdog
and has the look that no doubt inspired his name.
Any fear you
may have of Lobo disappears when you see him swim behind the boat
and bite at the splashes of water deliberately thrown his way by
the boatman's oar.
Lobo follows the horses/mules to the top of the hill, even though
he's seen it all thousands of times before.
had the heart of a puppy - but he ate it for lunch.
ride back is somehow shorter than the ride up. The animals seem
more eager to discharge their riders for the last time.
visitors to Big Bend to cross at Boquillas, if only for the novelty.
Why did you leave home in the first place, if it wasn't to experience
Bend National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
County 1920s map showing Boquillas
From Texas state map #10749
Texas General Land Office
articles - keep them coming... by the way the crossing to Boquillas,
Mex. is now closed due to some drug trafficking and arrests made
there in Sept of this year... do not know when they will reopen
it - Mike Arnold, November 28, 2000
thanks to Mike Arnold. We called Big Bend and it seems that the
Mayor of Boquillas, Sr. Jose Falcon passed away a short time after
our article was written and that undesirable elements briefly reared
their head. Thanks to the Border Patrol, The DEA, Big Bend Park
Officials and Mexican Authorities, arrests have been made, Boquillas
is once again open as of Nov. 27th and although Lobo was questioned,
we are happy to report he is back with his family. - Editor