02 April 2015
B Is For Big Bend National Park
During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we’ll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with “A is for Adventurous” and ending with “Z is for Zinc”. We've got a theme for every letter sorted except for Y. If you have any ideas for the letter Y, please leave a comment or email.
I really didn't know much about Big Bend National Park before we went there. To be honest, I had never heard about it. I'm not sure it gets the same name recognition as other National Parks, like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Maybe because it isn't one of those places that you can visit while on your way to someplace else. You really need to make an effort to get there. Situated on the Rio Grande River along the Texas-Mexico border, Big Bend has been described as a place of "splendid isolation". A very apt description. The park is a considerable distance from any sizable cities, so you need to stock up on provisions and make sure you have plenty of fuel before you set out. But it is so worth it. It truly is splendid.
We decided to spend Christmas week in Big Bend and took our chances that there would be a campsite available. Everything we read about Big Bend said that there was always room at the inn, except over the holiday period when competition for campsites is fierce. Fortunately, we arrived a few days before Christmas and snagged ourselves a sweet little spot at the Rio Grand Village campground and got Scamper set up. Isn't she cute with her awning up?
Sure we didn't have any electric, water or sewage connections, but we had trees, space and roadrunners frolicking around our site. Nearby, there is a RV park with full hook-ups. Have a look at the picture below - would you want to stay in what is essentially a parking lot just to plug in?
In addition to hopping across the border on Christmas Day (you can read more about that tomorrow), here are some of the highlights from our time in Big Bend.
1. Santa Elena Canyon
Who doesn't love a canyon? While it can't compete with the Grand Canyon, the Santa Elena Canyon has its own special charm. We did a relatively short hike into the canyon (1.7 miles round trip) and saw some spectacular scenery. After climbing up paved steps, you descend down to the canyon floor and meander along for a while until the trail ends at the canyon wall. We also did the Boquillas Canyon trail on the opposite end of the park. A nice walk, but if you only have time for one, go with Santa Elena.
2. The Chisos Mountains
The Chisos are the centerpiece of Big Bend, lying in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. You climb up 5,400 feet to the basin and then look up at the mountains surrounding you. It is supposed to be very popular place to visit during the summer when things are scorching hot down below. The first day we drove up there, it was snowing. I felt sorry for the folks camping up there. Sometimes a white Christmas isn't all it is cracked up to be. We went back later during our visit, when it wasn't snowing, and hiked on the 5.6 mile round trip Window Trail. You descend down into Oak Creek Canyon, climb up and over a few times and then end up at a pour-off where you can take in some views of the desert. And if you're lucky you'll see a tarantula along the way.
3. Eating Grilled Meat
It's hard to believe I used to be a vegetarian once upon a time. Because, now I can't get enough grilled meat. Seriously, bring it on - steak, hamburgers, sausages etc. We bought some of the tastiest hamburgers I have ever had at the Rio Grande Village store. Scott worked his magic with the grill and it was delicious. One of the best parts of our stay at Big Bend was hanging out outside, enjoying the stars and eating meat. Yum!
Have you ever been to Big Bend National Park? What was your favorite part?
We camped, hiked and pigged out at Big Bend National Park from 22-27 December 2014.
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