Big Bend National Park is the most beautiful, least visited natural wonderland I have ever seen. Located along 118 miles of the Rio Grande river, it is the true Wild West.
The park was established in 1944 and encompasses 1252 square miles in the Chihuahuan Desert, halfway between El Paso and Laredo, Texas along the US-Mexico border.
Over 450 species of birds have been sighted in the park, 55 species of reptiles, 40 species of fish and the more cactus species than any other park – over 1200!
There are 75 resident mammal species including mule deer (above) and javelina (below).
The terrain varies from riverbed canyons to high mountains with plenty of great hiking trails and off-road drives (no ATVs allowed).
The 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive lives up to its designation leading from the Chisos Basin area to Santa Eleña Canyon.
A two-mile hike from the overlook that leads to a wonderful spring near Mule Ears Peak.
The Rio Grande carved a 1500-foot vertical chasm out of pure limestone. In the photo above, the wall on the left is in Mexico, while the right is in Texas.
I highly recommend the hike from the overlook into Santa Eleña Canyon.
There is only one lodging option in the park, although there are many campgrounds.We opted to stay in Marathon, at the historic Gage Hotel.
I fell in love with the town of Marathon.
The Flying Burro was for sale when we visited and I was sorely tempted. However, I love where I live and I hate hellishly hot weather, so it may still be on the market.There is beautiful scenery along the road from Marathon to Big Bend, too.Word to the Wise: the weather can change in an instant, as we experienced and you might notice from my photos. Be prepared for every eventuality!
Special shout out to the National Park Service website for Big Bend, which has terrific maps, trail guides, historical information and just about everything else anyone needs to know.