Big Bend is named for the big curve in the Rio Grande river where Pecos Bill lassoed a wild tornado and carved a series of magnificent river canyons in remote southwest Texas or so the legend goes. With well over a million acres of public land included in Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, there is a lot to see. With only a couple of days available on this trip, we headed off determined to wet our appetites with as much as we could see. Excitement was in the air....except for Angus, Willy, and Harley who couldn't believe they were relegated to the very back of the VW Jetta Wagon. Although you should be well aware that dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in the national park, we decided to take them in the car rather than leave them in the RV as we knew it would be a very long day. The weather was cool, cloudy, and comfortable so it worked out just fine. I wouldn't recommend it when the weather is hot unless you don't intend to get out and sightsee.
Even the dogs were excited as we headed into the park.
First stop was the Chisos Mountain Basin. This is a look down into the campground suitable for only very small RVs and tents with no hookups but a very nice campground none-the-less.
You will find these signs scattered around the park and they are serious about it. Pay attention.
There is a nice lodge here as well as a Visitor's Center and a multitude of hiking paths heading up into the surrounding mountains. The parking lot is not a suitable place to bring your RV unless it fits into one parking spot as there is lots of activity in the area and not a lot of parking space.
My DIL Helen is a member of Team Timex Triathlon and she had a 12 mile she needed to do so she set off on one of the lengthier hiking paths to get her run in. I told Steve and the kids they should take off on one of the shorter paths and I would stay with the dogs. Keep in mind that it was quite cool and they were very happily sleeping in the car so off they went. In the meantime, I did the short walk to see the "Window" view. I also walked the dogs around the parking area which is perfectly acceptable. Less than two hours later, Helen returned from her run. She went nearly the full length of one of the longer trails but didn't do the final mile as she didn't want to leave us waiting for her too long. We waited another hour and a half for Steve and the kids to show up. We were beginning to get a little worried as I could only imagine Steve having to carry Morgan back. Cameron is an athlete like his Dad but Morgan is a bit more like Grandma.
Anyway, they arrived back tired but happy as they did one of the longer hikes as well. Steve did carry Morgan for about 5 minutes at the top but otherwise she did it herself and they were so pleased with themselves. We had the lunch we brought with us at one of the available picnic tables although there is a restaurant there as well.
The kids picked up their Junior Ranger packages at the Visitor's Center here. If you have kids or Grandkids, I can't recommend this program enough. The kids pay so much more attention to their surroundings because they are filling out their booklets and reading everything in sight and they remember the visit so much better.
Another view of the famous "Window".
Lots of volcanic activity created this fantastic area.
You also have to keep in mind that you are in the midst of a desert area.
I'm not even going to tell you what Helen and I thought these formations looked like. Use your imagination.
They are very different than this group of rocks
And this view shows you layers upon layers of different kind of rock.....same park, different location,
Our next major stop was the Hot Springs.
Yes, we did have to get out and walk a couple places to lighten the load over some serious wash areas. I think it would have been lightened more if Steve and Angus got out and let Helen drive but we figured we would let Steve drive in case there was any car damage. It would have been better to have a vehicle with higher clearance for this road but we managed just fine. We saw one or two vehicles as we were coming out that Steve told the drivers to turn around or they would get hung up.
This is the parking lot once you get down the road to the Springs.
At one time, this area was inhabited and there are several buildings remaining.
I think this one had been a store.
It is a hike down to the Hot Springs themselves. We saw these bird nests all over these cliffs. There were also some pictographs you could search out.
These are the Hot Springs at the end of the trail. At one time, they were contained within a building but only the foundation remains and, yes, that is the mighty Rio Grande River just past the Springs. Is it any wonder that people walk across?
The Grandkids didn't know about the Hot Springs so they were thrilled when we pulled out their swimsuits and had them change back in the bathrooms by the parking lot.
Along the trail to the Springs.....
Nice spot for a picnic......
Yes, the Mexicans walk across the river and set up little sales areas with jars for money on the honor system. Just be aware that it is illegal for you to make a purchase since the items are in the U.S. illegally....not a political commentary but you should know that there can be consequences if one of the rangers sees you or the illegal goods.
Back on the road again.
We were headed towards the far south eastern area of the park.
You can cross the border legally here provided you have your passport to get back into the U.S. The grandkids don't have passports so we did not do this adventure. My husband and son went across when they were here last November. You take a rowboat across (or walk) and then walk, ride a donkey/horse, or in a truck the mile into Boquillas. Just be sure you return by 5PM or the border will be closed.
We went further down the road to see Boquillas Canyon.
You can see the "town" of Boquillas across the river from here.
I was really hoping the see the same bumper crop of wildflowers that a friend saw last year but alas, this is what we saw.
We stopped to check out the Rio Grande Village RV Campground which has full hookups. I was very relieved we had not gotten reservations here as it is a small parking lot with a small road down the middle. I can't imagine how anything larger than a B or small C gets in here unless they arrive well before the lot has many RVs. To say it is cramped is an understatement. There is no room for an awning to be put out even if you can manage to back in to such tight quarters from the small road. We also checked out the Rio Grande Village Campground which has no hookups but much nicer spaces with trees. This would be a reasonable place to park a bit larger 5th wheel, trailer, or motorhome. The sun was heading down.
We headed back to our campsite at Big Bend RV Resort primed for our adventures the next day.