Big Bend National Park is a confounding place. One of the largest and most recommended National Parks, it is located in the South West corner of the large – large! – state of Texas.
Driving to the park from the nearest Interstate (Route 10) is a commitment – over 2 hours. RV parks with hookups & sites large enough for our motorhome are not found in the park (sorry, we like water, sewer, power) – located a short distance outside of the park.
The RV campground – Big Bend Adventures – we selected provide basic accommodations behind one of the few restaurants in town.
Big Bend is one of the least visited parks in the country – maybe due to the reasons noted above, in addition to a very small amount of lodging both in and out of the park. We stayed in the only town close to the park (Study Butte) next to Terlingua (of chili fame).
Putting all of this aside, Big Bend is a HUGE park with plenty of great vistas and interesting sites. To really see all of the park has to offer one needs more than a short visit.
On top of my confusion about loving or just feeling ambivalent about this park, we had the only days of rain that the Park will probably receive all year.
Which means serious, serious mud all around. See what I mean?
Some of the creatures that inhabit the park (including the one above…)
And as our friend Ranger Andrew said – it is an photographer’s delight – true! I asked a photographer and they agreed!
Native Americans and Early Ranchers called Big Bend their home – ranching here was tough work. Native Americans, of course, made use of all of the plants and wildlife in the area.
The Chisos Mountains provide great diversity – the temperature changes 20 degrees from the desert floor to the mountain top.
The Rio Grande is close at hand – a fast moving muddy river that provides access to Mexico. We could not cross due to road conditions and Donald was afraid of what I might try to sneak back. Joking!
The plants in the Big Bend are extraordinary. They endure temperatures that range from below freezing to over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and an average rainfall as low as seven inches a year.
Various adaptations allow plants to survive extremes.
These strategies range from waxy coatings to the complete loss of leaves. Many plants have thorns or spines to protect themselves and their precious water and food stores.
Ocotillo stands bare and dead-looking until a rain.
With moisture it sprouts fresh green leaves in a few days, which fall as soon as the moisture is used up. The bare thorn-laden stems once again wait patiently for rain.