Adventurers Explore Both Sides of Border in 1,200-mile Journey Along the Rio Grande

In December, a team of five, including Texans and immigrants, embarked on a monthslong journey from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico along the U.S.-Mexico border and the Rio Grande using different modes of transportation: mountain bikes, horses, and canoes. Their purpose? To document the borderlands before further construction of a border wall and to explore how a physical wall would impact landowners, border culture, wildlife, public lands, and water access. The results will be part of a documentary called The River and the Wall, which they plan to release next year. Texas Monthly is following the, 1,200-mile trip, which is divided into six legs and is expected to end in February, in a three-part photo series.

This first installment includes photographs from their first two legs—there are also a few images from an exploratory trip taken earlier in the year to help them plan their journey. During the first leg, which started December 1, the five adventurers— filmmaker and horse trainer Ben Masters, conservationist Jay Kleberg, wildlife biologist Heather Mackey, Nat Geo Wild star Filipe DeAndrade, and Guatemalan American river guide Austin Alvarado—took mountain bikes from El Paso to Presidio. And for the second segment, which began December 11, they rode horses for 200 miles through Big Bend Ranch State Park to Boquillas.

Tags: Travel, Ben Masters, Big Bend, boquillas, Border wall, Mexico border, Rio Grande, The River and the Wall, West Texas


  • Maid in America

    I am sick of hearing about the wall.
    What about those convicted felons that were shipped from England for hundreds of years?

    • Cynthia

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    • Sandy Woods

      How extremely ugly. You must be very unhappy.

      • Maid in America

        The truth sucks, don’t it? and YES! I AM INCREDIBLY UNHAPPY.
        SEE CORY BOOKER, yesterday, at the “confirmation” hearing for ms. homeland security rep. You’ll get a visual.

        It so dang UGLY, that you don’t even know. How could you —it’s YOU!

        • mickeymat

          Cory Booker embarrassed himself and his party at the hearing. He’s also not a very good actor.

          • Jed

            keep telling yourself that. your delusions may soon be all you have.

          • Sandy Woods

            One can only hope! Sorry Texas Monthly’s mention of the border documentary should devolve into political rock throwing.

            As a native Texan, I’m delighted to know this documentary is being undertaken and will show those who watch it the far-reaching impact a wall/fence/whatever could have along our stretch of the Rio Grande.

            Over the period from 1950 to the present I’ve seen the changes made by the increasing human presence along the border and the degradation of the river itself because of drought, pollution, non-native invasive plant life, and climate change.For two years as a college student I lived in Alpine, 80 miles or so north of the river. We explored the Big Bend National Park long before it became the tourist attraction it is today. I’ve lived in El Paso where the river is no longer “grande”, but sometimes only a trickle marking our boundry with Mexico. In recent years I’ve taken a number of groups to visit that vast, rough, wild, magnificent area where the once “Grande” river carved 1500 foot canyons south into Mexico.

            Trumpophile or Trumpophobe, wall or no wall, the American public should understand the incredible changes and unintended consequences that would befall businesses, animal migration, and family life on both sides of the border should free access to the river be denied. In the 21st century, if our politicians would stop acting like fussy children and do their jobs, they could find much more effective means of ensuring border security than some ill-begotten edifice..

          • Sexy

            Did we ever say it wouldn’t be interesting and informative? Look up the word “discussion”. And while you’re at it, look up the word respect, tolerance, and by that I mean people are free to opine, or are you telling me how to think now?

          • Tejasguitarman

            Voices From Both Sides takes place in Lajitas every May. It’s a beautiful celebration where Americans & Mexicans freely cross the river & enjoy a day of goodwill & music. This will be the 6th year!

          • Sexy

            It’s called knowlege and experience, but you must have gone to public school in which case you won’t know what I am talking about.

          • Sexy

            You must not be black.

        • Jeffreyrh

          booker is an idiot. And you are not Texan, so your opinion means nothing.F off. DEPORT THEM ALL, BUILD THE WALL.

  • Richard Jones

    From the tone of this article it sounds like the producers of the documentary have a preconceived point of view. Since the realities of any physical border security system have not been completely planned , or approved, the effects of such a system are only speculative at best and probably based on what could possibly happen vs what is most likely to happen. I’ve also traveled the length of this border and it is fantastic. I hope it’s a good unbiased documentary. We’ll see.

    • Lorraine

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    • Jed

      “From the tone of this article it sounds like the producers of the documentary have a preconceived point of view. ”

      primer on the scientific method: observations lead to theories, which are then used to generate testable hypotheses. those are tested, and the results used to refine or disprove the initial theory. rinse, repeat.

      so yeah, they have a preconceived point of view, that they are now testing. that’s how science works (including social science). without a preconception, there is nothing to test.

      you would prefer knowledge came from people who don’t know anything? maybe you and your crack squad of upvoters should start knowledgin’ for us. i’m sure you have no notions, preconceived or otherwise.

      • Richard Jones

        Wow. Enlightenment 101. I did not realize this was a scientific expedition. I thought it was some like minded adventurers doing a documentary to support their point of view. Thanks for setting it straight.

        • St. Anger

          What’s the difference between the two? What are documentaries if not social science?

          So yeah you’re welcome, glad to help.

          • Richard Jones

            A documentary is a report that purports to present information that contains no fiction. That does not mean it’s unbiased or supports a certain point of view. It comes from the field of communications not social science, You may have a documentary based on some aspect of social science.Social science encompasses many disciplines and bodies of knowledge but should not be confused with hard science which relies on the scientific method to find a truth. Of course I guess you knew all that.

          • St. Anger

            At this point I think you have lost track of what you are arguing. You started by criticizing this documentary for appearing to have a perspective. Which is facially absurd.

            As for teaching me the different between science and social science, good luck. Both employ the scientific method.

          • Richard Jones

            There is no such thing as “social science”. It’s a collection of disciplines some of which use methods resembling scientific method. Sorry but so far I can’t give you credibility when you don’t understand basics. Good chatting. Thanks.

    • Bethany Brandon

      Yeah, Richard, I got the same feeling: that there is an agenda here, and the filmmakers are out to shoot a preconceived ‘script’ in support of that agenda. After all, ‘speculation’ is not ‘exploration’. Still, it’s no doubt going to be a feast for the eyes and I’m looking forward to that!

      • Richard Jones

        I’ve been the length of that border and it’s spectacular. I look forward to this movie also. One commenter here says “great way to show the country what adverse impacts a continuous border wall will have”. That’s what a preconceived notion looks like.

  • John Robinson

    Amazing – you see a picture of a burro looking at a sign and not only do you think it can read, you think it agrees with the Leftist sentiment as well.

    • Jed

      your and your five upvotes are a crack squad of critical thinkers.

      next, debunking sesame street: those muppets can’t really talk!

    • Tejasguitarman

      The burro would agree because if it were to stand on the bank of the river & wanted to get to the other side then it would “naturally” enter the river & cross over. Keep the border “natural” NO WALL!

  • John MacFarlane

    This is awesome and great way to show the country what adverse impacts a continuous border wall will have on the ecosystem, the people, the wildlife, and the water. Can’t wait for the film! #RESIST

  • Louie Bond

    Sure hate to see great photos with no photo credits.

  • Sorry but i hate documentary poor country! No point for good reason to view