Last year, Diana’s cousin Nancy and her husband David invited us to come to Big Bend National Park in Texas to do some hiking with them. We tentatively made plans to meet them in early April. So since leaving Melbourne Beach on February 21, that has been our goal…and we made it!
Big Bend is named for the major change of course the Rio Grande River takes between Texas and Mexico. It is extremely remote, and it boasts some of the darkest skies in the U.S. Looking at an aerial view on Google Maps, the Chihuahuan Desert is apparent…
….but the wild and wonderful Chisos Mountains are not. When we arrived and this landscape unfolded before us, we were awestruck! As a bonus, the desert was starting to bloom!
The prickly pear were beginning to show off with their red and yellow flowers.
The Eagle Claw cactus with their magenta blooms.
The Ocotillo with their red clusters popping out at the ends of their branches. There is a large expanse of them as you enter the park from Study Butte.
Big Bend National Park is massive, covering 1251 square miles. The Chisos Mountains, the remnants of an ancient volcano, are contained entirely within the park. A good portion of the park’s hiking trails originate in the Chisos Basin, which is the caldera of that volcano. The remaining trails are scattered throughout the surrounding desert and along the Rio Grande River.
There are several gravel roads that lead to the remote areas of the desert.
Before we left Michigan in December, we outfitted the Escape with a set of all terrain tires, in anticipation of the rugged roads we planned on encountering. Edsel still looks good in his red paint scheme. With all the dust in Big Bend, that would most likely not last. :). We didn’t plan on any high-clearance roads, but any that were labeled ‘4 wheel drive’ were deemed ok for us.
Up in the basin, there is a lodge, campground, restaurant, visitors center and store. There is not a gas station there, but there is one not far away at Panther Junction. The temperatures in the basin are cooler than on the desert floor, and are cooler still at the top of the mountains surrounding the basin.
When experiencing views like this, it is hard to believe we are in Texas!
With Big Bend being so…well…BIG, we will be writing several posts on our time here. Stay tuned as we explore the vistas of this wonderful place!
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