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Big Bend National Park

April 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Denise and I recently returned from our long drive to Texas and back. There were two objectives to the drive: a visit with cousins in the Hill Country of Texas and a visit to Big Bend National Park. This post will cover the latter.


Big Bend refers to the U-turn of the Rio Grande River in west Texas. The park consists of three different ecosystems: the area bordering the Rio Grande River, the desert (and there's a lot of it, but not a sandy desert like the Sahara), and the Chisos Mountain range, which is a (relatively) green oasis in the desert.


While much of Texas has been rescued from its multi-year drought, Big Bend is still very dry and undergoing an extreme water shortage. We heard one fellow hiker mention that Big Bend hasn't had any significant rainfall in eight years (though I can't vouch for the accuracy of that statement). The day before we arrived in Big Bend I looked at a weather app on my phone and it looked like the Big Bend area was getting some rain. When we got to the park, I asked the person at the gate whether there was any rain lately, and he said that judging from the dust in the rain gauge, he didn't think so. He also said there weren't any flowers on the cactus because of the lack of rain, but we saw plenty of blooms.


We, of course, took a few hikes during our visit to the park: the Grapevine Trail, the Window Trail, the Lost Mine Trail, and the Santa Elena Canyon Trail were the primary walks. And no, we did not see any grapevines on the Grapevine Trail. The main feature of the Grapevine Trail is a rock feature known as Balanced Rock.


Balanced RockBalanced RockBig Bend NP


We also saw yucca plants blooming among the jumbles of rocks along the trail.


Yucca on Grapevine TrailYucca on Grapevine Trail


The Lost Mine Trail zigzags up a ridge of the Chisos Mountains to a view of Boot Canyon on one side of the ridge and a view of Lost Mine Peak and Pine Canyon on the other side. According to legend, there was a silver mine in the mountains and enslaved Indians rebelled and sealed the entrance to the mine so it might remain lost forever. Here are some interesting views along the way.


Boot Canyon from the SaddleBoot Canyon from the SaddleLost Mine Trail Trail's End - Lost Mine TrailTrail's End - Lost Mine TrailBig Bend NP Near Trail's EndNear Trail's EndLost Mine Trail


The Santa Elena Canyon Trail is a relatively short hike into a canyon carved through limestone by the Rio Grande. As you hike one side of the canyon in the US, you can look across at the other wall of the canyon (as close as 150 feet) in Mexico. Fortunately for us, the Terlingua Creek was dry and we didn't have to wade through it. 


Santa Elena CanyonSanta Elena CanyonBig Bend NP


I'll talk more about our adventures in Big Bend in another post. If you'd like to see more pictures from Big Bend National Park before then, you can view some in my Big Bend gallery by clicking here.



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