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Preparing for the Devils River

Texas Kayak Fisher Blog


Preparing for the Devils River

Clint Taylor

The Devils River is one of the most pristine, remote, and dangerous river in the state of Texas. For those who are not familiar with the Devils River, I have developed three articles to help you prepare for the Devils River - let’s begin with the basics.

The Devils River State Natural Area, also known as Del Norte, is located 65 miles from Del Rio and 69 miles from Sonora, Texas. Even though this is quite a ways from either city, it is actually much further in reality. Many people think there is only 65 or 69 miles of nice smooth roads and pavement, but you couldn't be more wrong. Once you turn off of Highway 277 onto Dolan Creek Road towards the State Natural Area, you will immediately recognize you are no longer on asphalt. Instead you are on a dirt road for 22 miles. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, you will go 16.8 miles on this dirt/gravel road to the State Natural Area boundary, and another 3.4 miles to the State Natural Area Headquarters. Since this is a State Natural Area and not a state park, the whole scheme of things is quite different. The headquarters is nothing more than a small building with the park ranger there to offer some assistance. A good majority of the time the park ranger will not be there as well, as he is making sure everything is okay sorrounding the park and people are safe. If for some reason you do need help, you will most definitely want to try and find the park ranger, as he could help you out greatly. The nice thing about it being a Natural Area though, is that there is no fee to enter the park, just you. The park is nothing but 20,000 acres of preserve with a couple of dirt road loops and some hiking and biking trails. To get to the river from the park, you will have to walk .9 miles on a dirt road that is pretty rough along with multiple changes in altitude along the way due to the unique landscape. Once you get to the river though, it is well worth the hike as you find yourself in a hidden oasis.

If you visit the Devils River State Natural Area, you will have to hike 0.9 miles to the banks of the river on a gravel road. Don’t forget, you will have to hike with your kayak too.

Many people wonder about the name of the Devils River, is it is quite unusual. Originally named the San Pedro by the Spanish, the Devils River would eventually get the name by a Texas Ranger in 1840; Captain Jack Hays. As history goes, Hays and a companion of his overlooked the soon to be called Devils River from a cliff. The Mexican companion eventually told Hays that the River was called the San Pedro River, but Hays replied in a rather sarcastic remark that it looked more like the devil's river to him. What you may notice though, is that the Devils River has no apostrophe...why is this. According to an article in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine called "What the Devil", it is quite a complex story. Hays named the river in the form that the devil actually owned the river with possession. However, somewhere along the way the apostrophe got lost and no one really knows how. Although this is my personal viewpoint, I believe that it can be related to the fight that Christians face with the many difficulties that come along the path. I like to look at the Devils River as Heaven. Luke 13:24 states the following, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." This is very true with both Heaven and the Devils River. Many people want to go to Heaven, but the Bible tells us that in reality few will actually obtain this. The Devils River is somewhat similar. Many people will want to go to the Devils River, but there are many obstacles and obstructions to overcome in order to reach the goal of the river. Not many people actually get to visit the river, therefor, that's why I believe this river is called the Devils River.

What makes the Devils River and the Natural Area so unique is the landscape. Sited between three ecological habitat zones (Chihuahuan Desert, Hill Country, and Tamaulipan Brushlands), the State Natural Area is very dry and contains very little vegetation above a few feet high. Near the Devils River is a different story though, as multiple springs feed an oasis like river with lush vegetation and cool waters providing a vivid contrast to the dry and dusty region. Water clarity is immaculate with a wide variety of low water vegetation. The surrounding area is covered in limestone rock, which truly helps to keep the water clean and clear, but also the dirt roads nice and dusty. You will find a large variety of trees on the water, with some being pecans, sycamores and live oaks. The fishing is incredible as well, you can catch Smallmouth Bass as south as possible. Largemouth Bass and a wide variety of panfish are also present.

I’m sure many of you are probably interested at this point, and I don't blame you. Getting to the river, being safe, having a good time, and catching some fish takes a lot of preparation. Therefore, I have prepared a series of articles entitled "Preparing for the Devils River" in order to help you achieve your goal of reaching the Devils River. You can expect nearly every topic available to be covered, from fishing tips, things to bring, camping, how to get there, and pretty much everything between the banks of the river. Here are the links to those articles:

Preparing for the Devils River 2

Preparing for the Devils River 3

You will probably want to check out my articles on my personal experiences on the Devils River, which you can find below:

Pau Hana Endurance on the South Llano River

The Devils River - A Hidden Oasis