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Down the ROAD


Dare the Devils BY CLOVER AND RACHEL CARROLL The Devils River drops underground for about a 20-mile stretch, where sand and limestone fi lter the water to pristine condition. O


nly about 300 visitors a year even attempt a trip down Devils River, an untamed stretch of whitewater


fl owing 94 miles through southwest Texas from Sutton County and emptying into Amistad Reservoir on the border. Early settlers to the area called the river San Pedro, but legend has it the river was renamed in the 1840s by Texas Ranger Jack Hayes. Looking down at the river from the height of its cliff s, he remarked that


it looked more like it


belonged to the Devil than to Saint Peter. Friendly names like Satan Canyon, Dead Man’s Creek, and Dark Canyon greet


visitors on their journey down the river. Paddlers are warned of rattlesnakes, scorch- ing heat, class IV rapids, and fl ash fl oods. Most of the land along the river is privately owned and outfi tters and state parks are few and far between, making for long stretches on the river. Experienced paddlers know, “Once you’re in, you don’t get out!” So what’s the draw? Adventurers have


the opportunity to experience one of the most pristine stretches of wilderness river in the United States. T e emerald river winds through rugged canyons of Texas Hill Country, fl owing over


a bed of solid limestone. Natural springs feed 80 percent of this tributary, making it one of the cleanest natural water sources in the world. Limestone cliff s tower above the water’s edge, and pecan, cypress, and oak trees line its banks. Gardens of water reeds grow in abundance, providing a natural home to teeming schools of bass. It’s no wonder that in the vast desert


expanse of southwest Texas, this river corridor has long been a haven of life and civilization. Providentially, the arid climate has preserved a wealth of archeological evidence; pictographs estimated to be over 4,000 years old can still be seen along the cliff s of Devils River. T ese artifacts may have been left by the


Coahuiltecans, peaceful hunter-gatherer groups. Recorded history tells us that by the latter half of the 19th century, these people had been driven out by the fi ercer Apache and Comanche tribes. Settlers in the South- west were so besieged by the Comanche that the U.S. Army dispatched troops to patrol that region of Texas. One of the most famous battles of that time was fought at


Paddlers enjoy a serene stretch of the river corridor.


24 Volume 6 Issue 1 | TexasLiVE | texaslivenetwork.com


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