FATMAP by Strava

Closed Canyon

Hike down a short but stunning slot canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Hiking Moderate

2.4 km
47 m
47 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
781 m
High Point
823 m
Closed Canyon Map

Closed Canyon is a gorgeous slot canyon cut by a seasonal stream through the upthrust plateau of Colorado Mesa. The slot canyon cuts from Highway 170/River Road, which provides easy access through Big Bend Ranch State Park, all the way down to the Rio Grande far below.


This short, easy hike is one of the most popular hikes in Big Bend Ranch State Park, thanks to both its incredible beauty and its easy access. While many of the trails deeper in the state park are only accessible via hours of slow driving on washboarded dirt roads, Closed Canyon is located just a few minutes outside of Lajitas on a paved highway—albeit a tight, twisty highway.

The hiking trail departs directly from a trailhead on the side of the highway, quickly reaching the canyon wall and the slot canyon itself. When you descend into the shadowy canyon, the temperature drops dramatically. Even if the temperatures are hot out in the sun, you might need to bring a jacket for the hike through the canyon!

The rock in the canyon "is igneous in origin and dark in color, though worn smooth and whitish grey by the occasional floods that rush down the streamway," according to AmericanSouthwest.net. "The ravine is rather different to the sandstone slot canyons of Arizona and Utah, not as narrow and with more subtle patterns of erosion, but sharing some features in common such as seasonal potholes, chokestones and dryfalls. Doubtless the flash flood danger is just as real during heavy rains, and there are no escape routes once past the entrance," the writer continues. If there's any chance of rain, or you observe flowing water, do not hike down into the canyon.

The hiking through the bottom of the canyon is initially smooth and flat, making this a family-friendly hike. The "Moderate" FATMAP Difficulty Rating reflects this family-friendly nature and easy access to the canyon.

As you head deeper into the canyon, you'll begin to descend small rock slabs as the canyon slowly drops toward the river. The slabs get bigger and bigger as you go, until you finally have to scramble down a few large slabs. These short scrambles are much more difficult than the initial hiking, but if you're not up for the scrambling, you can turn around at any time.

According to some online reports, it was originally possible to descend Closed Canyon all the way to the Rio Grande via a fixed rope. However, it appears that a chain has recently been installed partway down the canyon, strung from one wall to the other, with a large sign saying that the trail ends at that point. The authorities definitely want to stop all traffic at this chain. Texas State Parks also notes that "river access is not possible without vertical climbing gear." It's highly recommended that you turn around at the chain and the sign.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Picturesque
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area