Watch This Video of Bears Climbing the Walls of Santa Elena Canyon

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Tony Maples Photography


The beautiful Santa Elena Canyon is found in Big Bend National Park, in southwest Texas. One of the most popular overnight paddling trips or three-day staycations, it’s easily accessible by car for put-ins and take-outs. Not only that, but it’s often viewed as a “dramatically beautiful” location. With walls upwards of 1,500 feet, Santa Elena Canyon has the tallest cliffs forming this Texas canyon, but it also has something else quite unique, rock-climbing bears.

In March 2014, Stephanie Latimer took a kayaking trip through this popular canyon in Big Bend. In April 2014, she uploaded a video to her YouTube channel, showing endangered Mexican Black Bears (a mother and her cub) climbing the walls of Santa Elena. These rock climbing bears have been viewed more than 12 million times since!

Video: YouTube/Stephanie Latimer

Stephanie Latimer’s YouTube Channel features several video clips of a variety of animals in the wild. From owls to goats, and rattlesnakes to monkeys, the channel’s videos are popular with thousands of viewers, but none more so than the rock-climbing bears.

A kayaking tour through the first 13 miles of the trip toward Santa Elena Canyon, from its put-in at Lajitas, gives paddlers amazing vantages from which to see the unique differences between the riparian ecosystem and Big Bend’s desert environment. Entrance and touring through the actual canyon itself happens over the course of the last seven miles of the river, which gets a little more tricky. Depending on water levels, a Class IV rapid called the Rock Slide is actually two miles into the canyon, which can cause the need for some technical know-how on the part of a paddler. However, rock-climbing bears have definitely stolen the show in terms of the scenery in this respect. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even the wildlife in Texas knows that!