Thursday, December 22, 2016

Big Bend National Park – Day 1

I am writing this on December 22. We have now left BBNP and moved a bit north of the park. Internet access is still a bit of a challenge, so I hope to post this later in the day. We had a very memorable time at BBNP and I will try to document our activities over the next few days. We are now headed to Las Cruces, NM. Just by chance, my Mom and Dad are going to be there for Christmas. We are looking forward to spending Christmas with them.

On December 16, we arose to a beautiful day. We were still talking about the amazing night sky we had enjoyed the previous evening. Many people come to Big Bend just to see the stars. I can certainly see why, but we have plans to do that and much more. We decided to start the visit with a drive down to the southern end of the park. We decided to go to Castolon via the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This drive goes around the west side of the Chisos Mountains and give you a nice view of the rocky peaks from the outside. Then the road goes down to the Cottonwood Campground at Castolon that is along the banks of the Rio Grande River. You can literally throw a rock into Mexico from there.

The lighting for pics this day was not the best, but the views were still pretty impressive. This is a shot of the famous “Window” shot from the outside. In a later entry you will see a shot of the window from the inside.

We really liked the fact that they left some of the original homesteads intact to let visitors see how people tried to live here prior to the designation of a NP. It would have been a very difficult and isolated life. Here is what is left of the Sam Nail ranch:

The one thing they did have was amazing scenery.

As we continued on down the drive the views just kept getting better. I took almost 100 pictures on this day. Here are a few more.

We came across some folks looking at this tarantula.

There are many interesting rock formations including this one they call Mules Ears. It was used for pilot training during the time leading up to WWII.

The dessert if full of draws and cuts made by the rain that rarely comes to this area. You can see of Tuff Canyon in these shots.

Cottonwood Campground is a nice little campground on the Rio Grande. No hook ups and a few spots for bigger rigs, but not many.

There is a wall of rock that runs along the Mexican side of the border that goes on for miles. Mr. Trump there is your wall.

The Rio Grande has cut a canyon right through the Limestone. It has walls that are 1500 feet high. This is Santa Elena Canyon. You can paddle up into the canyon when the river is running less than 200 CFS, but right now it is about 500, so we decided to do the hike up the canyon. It is a steep trail at first, but then flattens out. The views are off the chart. We WILL come back here one day and paddle this canyon.

Kim is in this shot for perspective
We loved the hike and the canyon. We then decided to take a rough 4X4 Road called Old Maverick back to the north. It was 13 miles and had some washboard sections, but the scenery was awesome.

This is another former residence called Luna's Jackal.

What a first full day in Big Bend! The weather was warm and comfortable. We ended the day cooking dinner outside and watching this beautiful sunset followed by more star gazing.

On day 2 we were going to head up into the Chisos Mountains. The only problem was that there were 40 MPH winds predicted. Come back to see how that worked out.


  1. Fantastic pictures an scenery! Love that canyon. We'd love to kayak the river too some day. Sounds like it's pretty safe. Have you heard anything about that? Merry Christmas to you!

    1. Hey Debbie, The canyon is fairly safe except for one section called the rock slide. It all depends on the flow. You can get out and check it out before you run it. Merry Christmas to you and Steve also!