Big Bend National Park

2 03 2012

Big Bend doesn’t set itself up to be a winner. Some of the park literature even says things along the lines of “Some people just don’t get Big Bend National Park.”

I’ll admit it. When we drove in to the 1,000+ square mile park it didn’t seem like anything special. Sure, it was hillier than the rest of the state of Texas. But beyond that? Not much.

Ayo clicking her heels in Santa Elena Canyon

Ayo clicking her heels in Santa Elena Canyon

Everything that I had read pointed to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive as the best introduction to the park. So I’ll give you the scoop. The park is pretty, but it’s also desert-pretty. If you’ve seen prickly pear cactus and some good-size craggy mountains, you’ve seen 99% of the park.

But there’s one part of the park that you won’t find anywhere else, and that’s the “Big Bend” itself. For more than 1,000 miles the meandering Rio Grande River marks the US / Mexico border, and over 200 miles of that goes through the National Park. At the end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive the river takes a sharp 90-degree turn, creating a spectacular canyon titled Santa Elena. That canyon is a definitely a place worth writing home about. Rumor has it that at one point you needed a passport to raft down the river!

Sunset over Big Bend National Park

Sunset over Big Bend National Park

The middle of the Rio Grande conveniently marks the international boundary between the United States and Mexico, and wading across the river is strictly forbidden – even at parts where the “river” is shallow and maybe 25′ across.

Ayo’s Big Bend claim to fame is that she increased the land mass of Mexico by tossing a couple of rocks across the river. I can’t match that, but I can happily report that a $10 backcountry camping permit gets you up to two weeks of camping at an assigned spacious backcountry site – even in an RV. That’s pretty unusual for a National Park.

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posted by yair

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11 responses

3 03 2012
Sharona Guggenheim

Great, photos, especially the first one of Ayo clicking her heals. I love reading about your adventures. Thanks for sharing.

6 03 2012
Yair

Thanks, Sharona!

3 03 2012
Allie

If you’re still @ BBNP, I recommend seeing The Window. The trail is easy, and we went at least once at sunset (keeping track of the trail in the dark was a little challenging, but not bad, if I recall correctly – bring flashlights). I got some cool photos there… You’ve probably already heard about it as it’s very popular, but thought I’d throw it out there.
-Allie

6 03 2012
Yair

Alas, this post went up once we had already left. One of the things that I find is that while traveling we invariably see a lot of spectacular stuff and miss a ton more. Next time!

3 03 2012
LiveWorkDream

BB is one of our favorite places on earth. But you have to get down real close to see it. Are you guys still there? We are currently in Marathon and headed to the area (east entrance) in about a week. If you’re still around let us know, we’d love to meet you.

6 03 2012
Yair

We’re not there anymore, but we’re hunkered down in Austin for the spring. Coming up here?

5 03 2012
Marianne Edwards

Someone by the name of Lisa just introduced me to your blog (says it’s one of her favorites). Immediately I’m captured – Big Bend is one of our all-time favorite parks too and you’ve described it so beautifully. If you haven’t already done so, hike the South Rim Trail – stunning! Best if you pack a tent and spend at least one night up there; you’re young – you can do it.

6 03 2012
Yair

Welcome, Marianne! Lisa is great. Hope you enjoy reading!

9 03 2012
Brent

Hadn’t heard the back country tip…pretty cool

10 03 2012
Yair

Yup, and I saw a Class A in one of the sites

15 03 2012
tiffany

ohh.. you were so close to one of our favorite spots of all.. marathon texas (; loved the picture of ayo clicking her heels! xo, tiffany

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