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Big Bend National Park is the glorious locus in the West Texas of the United States Of America. A true incarnation of nature, this national park has made its visible place in the gorgeous national parks of this world.
Marking its unequaled presence in the Chihuahuan Desert, it is the largest protected area in the desert.
Beautifully named after a big bend in the Rio Grande, this national park widely covers an area of 800,000 acres and is richly crowned with flora and fauna.
Despite its location in the vicinity of a desert, Big Bend National Park is a flourished topographic site on the planet with an eye-charming cluster of the river, deserts, deep canyons, and mountains.
Interestingly, it is the one national park in the United States with the entire mountain ranges named the Chisos Mountains.
Big Bend National Park And The Historical Essence
Since the ancient days, explicitly dating back to the era of the early historical period, the Big Bend region has been a variedly inhabited region by differently cultured groups or communities, starting from the Chisos Indians, followed by the nomadic band of Jumano, then Mescalero Apaches, and the Native American groups of Comanches.
Then the history of Spanish hold commenced in the region of Big Bend. Later, the end of the war between Mexico and America in 1848 made Big Bend a part of military surveys of the unmapped area by the United States Army.
The beginning of the 20th century brought enriching turns to the story of the Big Bend region, when the area came up forward with precious mineral deposits in its womb and thereby attracted settlers, who settled around. This inhabiting of miners led to the Rio Grande Flood Plain settlement by the region’s farmers.
It was not until the 1930s that Big Bend was associated with becoming a national park.
In 1933, the Texas Legislature decided to pass legislation to establish a park in the Big Bend region by Texas Canyon State Park. In the same year, the park was renamed Big Bend, State Park.
However, the Congress of the United States passed legislation in 1935 that proclaimed the acquisition of land for the national park. After the State Of Texas transferred the land to the federal government by a legal deed, Big Bend National Park took its actual birth in 1944.
On the historical date of 1st July 1944, the Park was opened for the first time.
The Pride Of West Texas
It is the locus of pride of far west Texas along the Texas-Mexico border.
Covering a vast land of 1,252 miles, Big Bend National Park is a perfect blend of geographical as well as geological features, ranging from the higher elevations of the Chisos mountains to the infinite stretches of the Chihuahuan desert and the green vegetable belts beautifying the Rio Grande to the nodes of Persimmon Gap and Boquillas Canyon.
Despite its unpredictable locus within the Chihuahuan desert, there is no form of natural beauty that is untouched by the tinge of the Big Bend area.
8 Amazing Reasons To Visit Big Bend National Park
Being one of the most recognized national parks in the United States Of America, Big Bend National Park has attracted visitors all year long since its establishment. These visitors, coming on trips to the park annually, end up finding this place out of this world, genuinely.
Among countless exceptional reasons to visit park, here are the seven most fascinating ones:
- Chisos Mountains
- Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
- South Rim Hiking Trail
- Rio Grande River
- Terlingua Ghost Town
- Old Maverick Road
- Additional Park Activities
1. The Lavish Chisos Mountains
Extending from Punta de la Sierra in the southwest to Panther Junction in the northwest, Chisos Mountains are the unique natural features of the park.
The Chisos is the only mountain range that lies entirely with Big Bend National Park, primarily located in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas.
The Chisos Mountains are the apple of the eye of this Park. It is best known for the hikes it offers to visitors, notably in the days of the summer months.
With a flourishing population of black bears, mountain lions, gray foxes, white-tailed deer, rock squirrels, whiptail lizards, spotted towhees, tufted titmice, and Mexican Jays, Chisos Mountains are an excellent habitat for numerous species of creatures.
2. The Heartfelt Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
Big Bend National Park is worldwide renowned for Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Historically, the route of this drive is named after Ross Maxwell, the first superintendent of that Park. He had an extensive role in laying out this geologically enriched route on the park’s western side.
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is a 30-mile picturesque drive that encircles the slopes on the western side of Chisos Mountain. Moving up to the breathtaking views at Sotol Vista, the route then winds down to correspond to the Rio Grande at Castolon Historic District. The pavement ends at the point where the Ross Maxwell route winds at the Santa Elena trailhead.
Ross Maxwell’s scenic drive is doubtlessly scenic in its very name and its charm. Its grandeur views of the desert, badlands, and several simple campsites make it one of the most recognized scenic drives in the world.
3. The Adventure Hiking Over the South Rim Trail
This hiking trail makes the experience at Big Bend National Park amazingly worth it. Covering a total distance of 12.6 miles, the south rim trail is one of the most popular trails in the Big Bend area.
Its starting point begins in the Chisos Basin, and thereby, the path goes ahead over the South Rim. Along this trail, it is easy for all the visitors to find several backcountry campsites.
This South Rim trail, in reality, is divided by the Boot Canyon Trail into two stunning parts, the first part being the Southwest Rim, whereas the name contrastingly knows the other part of Southeast Rim. The hike can be started up the Laguna Meadows trail, and the Pinnacles trail can be the best path for hiking lovers to hike down.
4. The Beauty Of Canyons
This is a place with an abundance of canyons, acclaiming the national park as a beauteous mark of these natural features.
The leading canyons at Big Bend National Park are:
- Santa Elena Canyon
- Boquillas Canyon
- Lower Canyons
- Mariscal Canyon
- Colorado Canyon
Let’s know about these canyons from the core.
1. Santa Elena Canyon
If one would ever ask a visitor at that park, which is the most irresistible part of this sightly park, the answer would always be Santa Elena Canyon.
The Santa Elena Canyon is quite far from the Big Bend National Park visitor center. To reach this canyon, one needs to drive through the 30-mile-long Ross Maxwell scenic drive, and this route forms the head of the trail across a tributary of the Rio Grande, namely, Terlingua Creek.
At the start of the canyon, a steep ascent to a sheer cliff awaits, followed by a descent to the water level. Passing this commences the beginning of flat land surface, enriched with features varying from bushes to beaches.
2. Boquillas Canyon
Located at the nearest eastern point of the Rio Grande Village, Boquillas Canyon is nearly a 20 mile long incredible canyon at Big Bend National Park. It has a high reputation among visitors, claiming to be the most profound and longest canyon in the national park.
Boquillas canyon is easy to navigate, with great camping sites. Starting from the Parking lot situated at the end of Boquillas road, the visitors need to hike to reach the edge of the water to enter the canyon. The streaming water is marked for its quality of providing a peaceful experience.
3. Lower Canyons
In the third-largest section of the river, below the Boquillas Canyon, for 60 long miles of stretch lie little and secretive river canyons. These canyons are known as the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande river.
Their towering cliffs mark the lower canyons along with sculpted stone spires. Springs of water from these canyons glorify the beauty of Big Bend National Park in every possible way.
4. Mariscal Canyon
Mariscal Canyon is the deepest as well narrowest canyon in the Rio Grande river. It is also situated in the most remote section of the river. The complete trip to Mariscal canyon is stretched over 11 miles, starting from Tally to Solis. 7 miles of these 11 miles gives the purest views of the canyon.
The centers of a prime attraction along the Mariscal Canyon include rapids of notice such as the ‘Rockpile’ and the ‘Tight Squeeze,’ the famous ‘Hermit’s Cave’ and the charming ‘Cross Canyons.’ The visitors prefer night campings at these cross canyons.
5. Colorado Canyon
Colorado Canyon comes in the major river canyons of the Rio Grande in the Big Bend National Park. It is a canyon that stands out among all the other river canyons for its unique color. Most Rio Grande Canyons are of the limestone visuals. However, Colorado Canyon is a result of volcanic origin.
With a topography of soil being highly rich in minerals, a range of the desert and riparian plants have settled their hanging habitat over Colorado Canyon. The most prominent ones of these plants are yuccas and cacti.
With gorging rapids such as Guacamole, Panther, and Quarter mile, Colorado Canyon is tremendously admired by Big Bend National Park visitors.
5. The Streaming water of Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is geographical, a continental river that frames the boundary between the United States of America and Mexico. This river covers around one-fourth of this framework comes under the administration of the Park.
Being the dominating water source for the Big Bend area, the Rio Grande river flows from the San Juan Mountains in Colorado to the Gulf Of Mexico near Brownsville in Texas. Rushing for 1,865 miles, the river of Rio Grande takes a beautiful curve to the northeast, where the flowing water in West Texas forms a ‘big bend.’
The river is the epitome of diverse, wild, and scenic sites. Canoeing is the most friendly activity through the canyons of the Rio Grande River. The plethora of gorges along the stretch of the river makes the Rio Grande the gem of the Big Bend National Park.
Here is an exciting video showing the activity of canoeing in the Rio Grande river at Big Bend National Park:
6. The Authentic Terlingua Ghost Town
It is believed that the best view of Big Bend National Park is from nowhere but from the porch of Terlingua Ghost Town, which was a mining town in the years of 1800s, until the end of the Second World War, after which the population drifted from the city, and thereby ghosting the place.
The present identity of this town of Terlingua began when natives started the chili cook-off in the year 1967.
Terlingua Ghost Town is around 7 miles away from the Big Bend National Park boundary near the park’s west entrance. The town has an ancient touch with remains from historical times, evidently making it a symbol of attraction to the visitors.
Terlingua has several options for lodging, making it easier for the visitors at the Park to find comfortable places to stay and relax in their leisure moments. The town also has restaurants offering good quality food.
With its lively character, the town is a bodacious abode of artistic authenticity.
Terlingua Ghost Town: A Traveler’s Journey Through Time and Stars
“Terlingua Ghost Town is a real treat near Big Bend National Park. It’s not your typical ghost town with just tumbleweeds and eerie silence. It’s full of old ruins and abandoned mines that [pretty much] take you back in time.
I remember this one time, some friendly locals took us to this old schoolhouse and houses built into the canyon walls. It felt like walking onto a movie set from the old west.
The old mine there is like a snapshot from the past, with all the old equipment still lying around. It’s kinda cool and spooky at the same time.
But the real kicker about Terlingua, especially if you’re hanging around Big Bend, [is the night sky]. It’s the perfect spot for meteor showers.
Imagine sitting in the middle of these historical ruins, just looking up at a sky full of shooting stars. It’s such a surreal feeling.”
7. The Easiest Old Maverick Road
Rough and washboard, old Maverick Road is the most effortless off-road running through the Terlingua Creek west of Big Bend National Park. Being 14 miles in length, it runs between the canyon named Santa Elena and the Maverick junction.
Descending to the Rio Grande and Santa Elena, this road gives a distinct insight into many historically relevant sites. Incredibly, the vertical walls of the canyon, which are above 1000 feet in height, can be seen from long distances, even from several miles away, making the drive through this old maverick road scenic.
8. Some Other Additional Park Activities
Here are some exciting additional park activities and programs led by the national park foundation that can be overwhelmingly enjoyed at the Park:
Most adventure-seeking people love backcountry camping. With several developed campgrounds, camping is one of the most enjoyed adventurous activities at Big Bend National Park. The visitors can also prefer night camping.
Hiking is another thrilling activity in the array of activities at Big Bend National Park. Being topographically favorable for hiking, the National park Service at this national park offers excellent hiking thrills, specifically available for children. There are various hiking trails open for visitors.
- Boot Canyon Trail
- Chisos Mountain Basin Loop Trail
- Emory Peak
- Lost Mine Trail
- South Rim
- Window Trail
- Window View Trail
The river of the Rio Grande and the prosperity of several canyons at Big Bend National Park offer prepossessing opportunities to enjoy the heartfelt canoeing experience. Canoeing is in itself a mesmerizing experience, and when the location is as perfect as the park, this experience is worth everything else.
Unveiling Big Bend National Park: A Travel Expert’s Guide to Astounding Activities
- Astrophotography Journeys: Big Bend National Park is [a great place] for astrophotography and stargazing because of its well-known dark skies.
Putting together guided astrophotography tours with knowledgeable astronomers and photographers can draw tourists eager to take pictures of the hypnotic night sky.
Visitors may view thousands of stars at night [at the park because of] its beautiful skies and extremely minimal light pollution1. Visitors can utilize telescopes to view the night sky or participate in activities offered by rangers.
- Observation of wildlife: A wide range of animals can be seen at the Park, such as bighorn sheep, javelinas, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, deer, and javelinas, in addition to other animals.
Birds can be seen flying or in their native environments by visitors.
- Culture and history: The park’s lengthy and intriguing past [is a reflection of] the many different cultures that have called the area home.
During the Mexican-American War, Mexican forces ran Mariscal Mine3, [a silver mine that] offers visitors insight into the history and culture of Big Bend National Park.
Additionally, they can go to Boquillas Canyon4, which served as a crucial corridor for trade between Spanish explorers and Native Americans.
The Magnificence Of Big Bend National Park
National Parks are thriving with a multitude of natural sceneries. On the same sphere, this Park is a quintessence of all the wonders of mother nature, blessing the planet with its magnificent essence of eyeful beauty.
With Chihuahuan desert in the surrounding arena and the only mountain range of the Chisos Mountains embellishing the beauty of the Big Bend National Park, the river of Rio Grande is an addition to the charm of the place.
Whether it is the scenic drive over the Ross Maxwell route or the hiking trail over the South Rim, the Park is superabundant with all the excitement of adventurous thrills. Camping and canoeing are some of the other thrilling park activities that are enough to make the experience for visitors merrier.
So, if you plan to visit a place full of lively characters, Big Bend National Park is a perfect place for you.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar