Big Bend National Park

Big Bend NP, Texas – March 2015

After two weeks near the north end of the Padre Islands I was undecided whether to continue to South Padre or head to the next must see on my list, Big Bend National Park. Even 20 minutes from the turn to South Padre I was still entertaining the possibility of heading south. But it finally came down to having a limited gas budget. And South Padre was 150 miles out of my way.

I was hoping to boondock in Big Bend National Park but, sadly, it was not to be. They have a limited number of boondocking sites (or as they call them backcountry campsites). There were about 6 sites that could accommodate a rig like mine and I had to compete for these spots with backpackers, tenters, and car campers. I could have had a free place to park almost every night but I would have had to move every day or so. That hassle was not worth the savings. So instead I bit the bullet and paid a whopping $14 per night for a sight with no hookups at the Rio Grande Village Campground. Here is a sunrise pic taken just outside my camper door.

Big Bend is everything I ever imagined and more.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.  The mountains and rock formations are a geologists dream.  Most views are stunning and many are just plain weird looking.  Here is my first view of the Rio Grande River and Mexico on the other side.

The varieties of cacti are also strange and beautiful.

You can easily find an outstanding hike every day. My favorite was Pine Canyon. It is 2 miles out and 2 back. The trailhead is at the end of a 6 mile 4 wheel drive only road. The most difficult part about the road is that most of it is only wide enough for one vehicle and the turnouts are few and far between. It’s remoteness is partly why it was one of my favorite trails. I only saw one other party on the trail as I was returning to my truck.
The trail meandered along a dessert path for the first mile and a half without a single bench, log, or rock to sit on. Finally a large boulder appeared and lunch was served. Immediately after that the path changed completely and entered a forested area along a currently dry creek bed. If you were dropped in to the middle of this forest you would have never guessed you were in the middle of a dessert. It was amazing! That “little” rock in the pic below is the trail’s destination but first you have to walk between the two mountains to its right.

This trail is surrounded on all sides by mountains. The views are constantly changing as you make your way up and back down the trail. I’m very glad I enjoyed these views on the way up the trail because about halfway back down I almost stumbled over a very large rattlesnake sunning itself across the trail. The trail was about 4 feet wide and the snake stuck over into the brush on both sides so I am guessing he was 5 or 6 feet long. He appeared to be about 2 inches wide in the middle. I was surprised to say the least and turned around faster than I thought possible and retreated about 5 feet. After some yelling he reluctantly slithered away. I didn’t pay much attention to the view after that and was more careful to keep an eye on the trails for the rest of my excursions.