Sunday, February 7, 2016

Big Bend National Park

View from Sotol Vista Overlook
We stayed at an RV park near Terlingua, TX and drove into Big Bend National Park each day. This is a very large park at over 800,000 acres so it involves a lot of driving. The park is mostly desert but it has an entire small mountain range, the Chisos Mountains, in the middle. The elevation change in the park is significant with the southern border along the Rio Grande river being at around 2000 feet up to the Chisos peaks going as high as 7800 feet. There are hiking trails of every length and difficulty.
Santa Elena Canyon from road
We spent our first day taking our time going into all of the view points and doing short hikes on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive which goes to Santa Elena Canyon. We enjoyed every aspect of the day and we were blessed with great weather too. Santa Elena Canyon was nice but we also really enjoyed the Burro Mesa Pouroff.

In Santa Elena Canyon
The next day we went to the Panther Junction and Chisos Basin visitor centers and did some more short hikes. The Lost Mine Trail was nice as it had elevation gain but was built with long gradual switchbacks. We only went up about a mile to the first significant viewpoint and the cold wind was getting worse the higher we climbed. The view at this point was certainly good enough.

Burro Mesa Pouroff
We did not drive to Rio Grande Village. We had planned a third day here to do that drive but we lost a day in El Paso due to high winds, unsafe to drive in, and our campground was full so we couldn't extend our stay for Big Bend. This drive was what we chose to sacrifice based on input we received from people.

The Window in Chisos Basin
We enjoyed our visit to Big Bend. It was very interesting to us that much of the highly touted aspects of the park are the same as what we live in and support at Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemon near Tucson. Those things being the elevation, biome, and wildlife variation from the lower elevations to the mountains. The Santa Catalinas in AZ have the same with the exception of the river.

Mule Ears Peaks from afar

View about 1 mile up Lost Mine Trail

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