Big Bend National Park explains why portions of the Rio Grande River in Texas are low

Low water levels to the point of disconnected flow have happened at Big Bend in the past, but it has been a number of years since the river stopped in places like the Mariscal Canyon

Big Bend National Park recently explained why water levels are low at the Rio Grande River.

Big Bend National Park recently explained why water levels are low at the Rio Grande River.

NPS

If you've been at Big Bend National Park recently, you may have noticed how water levels are low at portions of the Rio Grande River that flows almost 2,000 miles in the area. And, for the spring, it's not uncommon for the flow to completely stop along the river, according to the national park.

At Big Bend National Park, spring is one of the driest times of the year in the Chihuahuan Desert, as the majority of the rain falls in mid-late summer. Due to low rainfall over the last winter, Far West Texas continues to be under extreme drought conditions, Tom VandenBerg, Big Bend's Chief of Interpretation & Visitor Services, told MySA.

Water levels have been shrinking since last fall, according to Vandenberg. Low water levels to the point of disconnected flow have happened at Big Bend in the past, but it has been a number of years since the river stopped in places like the Mariscal Canyon, according to VandenBerg. 

Currently, water is still flowing (although very slowly) through Santa Elena Canyon, and with groundwater springs recharge, the flow picks up on the eastern side of the park near Hot Springs and Boquillas Canyon, VandenBerg added. Outfitters are still offering some float trips through Hot Springs Canyon on a daily basis, he noted.

"Until rain returns, things won't really get any better," VandenBerg said. "There is a slight chance that the area may receive some precip later this week. Fingers crossed."

This week, Big Bend officials also dealt with a wildlire on the remote South Rim of the Chisos Mountains. It was officially declared contained at 30 acres on Thursday, April 21. Containment means that the fire's spread has been stopped, but there is still much work to be done. The crew will remain at the fire for a couple of days to mop up the perimeter and cool down the remaining hot spots.

Continued drought, high temperatures and low humidity mean extreme fire conditions continue throughout the West. Park visitors are reminded to be extremely careful. Fires are prohibited in Big Bend National Park and smoking is prohibited on all park trails.

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