Santa Elena Canyon

September 22, 2014


Photographer: Cesar Cantu Quiroga
Summary Author:  Cesar Cantu Quiroga; Jim Foster

Shown above is the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. This narrow canyon is cut by the Rio Grande River. Texas is on the right side of the picture and Mexico on the left. Here the Rio Grande separates the limestone outcrops of the Mesa de Anguila, on the Texas side, from the Sierra Ponce, on the Mexican side. In places, the canyon walls tower 1,500 ft (457 m) above the river. Between 60 and 130 million years ago, sediments that accumulated in a shallow sea were laid down in the area that now makes up Big Bend. These sediments eventually hardened into massive limestone layers that over millions of years were carved by the Rio Grande, forming Santa Elena Canyon. Photo taken on June 6, 2013.