Big Bend National Park

Road to Santa Eleña CanyonBig 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.

Yucca with Chisos in Background
Yucca with the Chisos Mountains Behind

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!

Ocotillo with Mesa
Ocotillo Cactus with Castolon Peak in the Background

Mule Deer Stag in CactusThere are 75 resident mammal species including mule deer (above) and javelina (below).

Javelina on the Run
Faster than a Speeding Bullet – forgive the blur!

The terrain varies from riverbed canyons to high mountains with plenty of great hiking trails and off-road drives (no ATVs allowed).

The Window Chisos Basin-2
The Window View Trail ends with a Spectacular Overlook
Oak Creek Canyon Big Bend NP
Oak Creek Canyon
Window Trail toward Casa Grande
View of Casa Grande from the Window View Trail
Big Bend Landscape
I see dinosaurs in these hills!

The 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive lives up to its designation leading from the Chisos Basin area to Santa Eleña Canyon.

Tuff Canyon
Sotol Vista Overlook
Mule Ears Big Bend National Park
Mule Ears Overlook

A two-mile hike from the overlook that leads to a wonderful spring near Mule Ears Peak.

Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend National Park
Santa Eleña Canyon overlook – where the Rio Grande bends

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.

Ocotillo Big Bend National Park

I highly recommend the hike from the overlook into Santa Eleña Canyon.

Santa Eleña Canyon looking North
Looking North from Santa Eleña Canyon towards the Chisos Mountains

There is only one lodging option in the park, although there are many campgrounds.GageHotelWe opted to stay in Marathon, at the historic Gage Hotel.

GageHotel Fountain

I fell in love with the town of Marathon.

Flying BurroThe 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.Vertical Bird on a WindmillThere is beautiful scenery along the road from Marathon to Big Bend, too.Skies of Big BendWord 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.

If you are going to Big Bend, be sure to visit Marfa, too:  Marvelous Marfa|Texas and Marfa, Texas | Modern Art Mecca. After all, it’s only 100 miles away – that’s virtually  next door in the West!


14 thoughts on “Big Bend National Park

    1. Yippee Kay Yay Fabrizio! Are you thinking of spaghetti westerns?!? Actually, many movies are filmed in the greater Big Bend area, including “Giant” which didn’t have Yul Brynner but did have Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I forgot the spaghetti western mention. Well no, I’m frankly quite a fan of Sergio Leone since I was a meter and a tomato tall, so in time I learned a bit about them; he didn’t have the money for big players or America, so he did his films in Almeria, Spain… I wonder how it’d have ended had he had the cash to have Yul and Big Bend! Don’t know, I still think it wouldn’t have been as good as the Trilogy with Clint.

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