The Perplexing Big Bend National Park – Love it or …Meh?

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.

Campground View

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).

very Cool Starlight Restaurant




Ghost Town


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.  



Donald wondering why we had to trek through the mud….

 Which means serious, serious mud all around.  See what I mean?

Crossing the Rio Grande – glad they let me back into the US!
A terrantula – just in time for Halloween!

 Some of the creatures that inhabit the park (including the one above…)

the very cool & elusive Javelina








And as our friend Ranger Andrew said – it is an photographer’s delight – true!  I asked a photographer and they agreed!  

Handmade Brickwork


Original Ranch building

 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.  

wait! Donald – don’t leave!

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!

Path to Mexico
Rio Grande and Elana Canyon



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.


As you might note from the numerous pictures of this plant, I thought it was great.


One of the long and winding roads through the Park


 So Don & I agreed – we will return to Big Bend for either 5 days or 5 weeks next visit to further explore this massive, diverse and mysterious park.  


8 thoughts on “The Perplexing Big Bend National Park – Love it or …Meh?

  1. If we ever decide to visit Texas someday, this is where we will probably stop. We did San Antonio for a long weekend many, many years ago. We, too, like our comforts in water, electric, and sewer:)

  2. Gail your pictures are amazing! Big Bend is a really cool place and massive. I hope you two get back for a 5 week visit and maybe I will come join you. Thanks for sharing your adventure! Are you going to stay for the chili cook off championships at the ghost town?

  3. HI Andrew! we should have stayed longer – the ghost town is probably a great Halloween destination! the chili is so good is it scary! you should join us somewhere on our East Coast journey next year….

  4. Just FYI: Rio Grande Village in the national park does have RV hookups, a bathhouse, a washeteria and a general store. Very nice photos. The old ruin of the Perry Mansion in Terlingua Ghost Town does have power because a couple of the rooms are restored and you can rent them.

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