Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Allure of Big Bend

Hub kept inquiring, “Why are we going to Big Bend? Why do you want to go?”

No specific reason formulated in my mind. Most people told Big Bend was a stop on our itinerary responded, “Where?”

I do not remember where or when I first heard about the park, but the place intrigued me from the beginning. Big Bend National Park, located in southwest Texas, lies in a long bend along the Rio Grande border with Mexico. 

Driving hours through Texas vastness we passed few cars, and fewer cars passed us.

Traversing nowhere land, we finally arrived at our destination.

First impression, besides hub’s amazement at being dragged into the heart of nowhere, was one of wonder.

I wondered where in the world are we? Far from major population centers – 559 miles from Dallas, 600 miles from Houston and 400 miles from San Antonio, our starting point, in the middle of a county covering 6,000 square miles with a population just over 9,000we landed in the middle of nowhere or more specifically in the middle of dusty, barren country.

Close inspection indicated signs of human life. A few cabins appeared occupied, but they were outnumbered by abandoned houses and assorted vehicles strewn along the road.
A touch of spring color in the desert.
Our casita, Spanish for small house and our lodging in Big Bend territory, proved quite charming. A porch perfect for relaxing and taking in the landscape faced the mountains. No buildings blocked our view of dusty land, cactus and other small shrubs, flat land leading to rolling hills and distant mountains. A variation of browns distinguished the color scheme, a few patches of green and purple cactus and desert flora providing dashes of color. Occasionally a road runner strode onto the porch, his head moving side to side, aware of us but unsure who these intruders invading his terrain might be. He scurried away if we made a sound.
Our roadrunner friend.
Big Bend National Park encompasses over 800,000 acres of desert hill country with a few mountains offering challenging hiking opportunities, a chance to see deer and other forest animals, cooler weather, trees and greenery.

Hub on the Santa Elena trail. The Rio Grande
flows between the canyon walls.
We hiked the Santa Elena trail, following the Rio Grande into a canyon bordered on both sides by soaring rock walls. (No manmade wall needed here, Donald.) The river flowed low, narrow and shallow.

The second day dawned bright and warm, not a cloud in the sky and no wind, perfect weather for a canoe trip down the river. Our guide led us along the passive waters, only a couple of ripples (which we decided were definitely class one or two rapids) challenging our paddling ability. A mile hike up a mountain, a chance to test the waters at hot springs, a lunch break, another quick stop in Mexico (because it is illegal to stopover on the Mexican side of the border) to stretch our legs, and our day on the Rio Grande concluded.

The days passed quickly hiking, canoeing, enduring a jeep ride into the backcountry (hub and my backcountry hiking and camping days are far behind us), relaxing in a rustic wilderness inhabited by vacationers escaping 21st century life temporarily, and others fleeing permanently.

Five days after arriving hub and I, temporary escapees, packed, loaded the car and continued our westward trek. 

Signs of spring in the desert.


  1. I'm loving your travelogue. I was once in the Big Bend; but all I remember is that it was . . . big.

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