February, 2015 – The first thing we noticed about Big Bend National Park is the sheer size of the park. Everything is bigger in Texas, of course, and this park is no exception. Simply driving from one area to another covers many many miles. But the great thing about these drives is that they pass some wonderful scenery!
The terrain is really varied in Big Bend National Park, and that is one of the magical things about this place. There’s the Rio Grande river that snakes along the south end of the park, the Chisos Mountains that tower at great heights in the middle, and the desert lands in between.
The Sierra del Carmen mountains at the far eastern edge of the park form a dramatic landmark that is easily visible from 21 miles away in the center of the park. These mountains sport horizontal stripes, and they turn gorgeous shades of pink at sunset. They also mark the location of Boquillas, the tiny Mexican village that sits on the other side of the Rio Grande.
One of the loveliest drives is the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive that goes from the center of the park to the southwest corner. This drive winds up and down through craggy mountains that made us feel like we were back in Arizona. In the late afternoon, on our return, the mountains lit up bright orange.
We were there in late February, and spring was already in the air. The Texas state flower is the lovely bluebonnet, and they were in full bloom everywhere. They love the roadsides, and all over the park we passed areas that were blanketed with them.
When we rounded one corner, we found a natural rock garden that was littered with a wonderful combination of bluebonnets and yellow flowers that looked absolutly vibrant against the jagged rocks.
Birds sang in the trees, and we even saw a bird’s nest in a cactus. This seemed like a precarious place to put a home, but I guess it works! Cactus of all types are prolific in Big Bend National Park, especially prickly pear cactus. We saw many varieties. Some have no thorns, and some have very long sharp ones.
Big Bend can deliver all kinds of crazy weather, and we saw it all during our two week stay. When we first arrived the temps were warm and the air was dry and clear. It was perfect. But Texas is one of those places where if you don’t like the weather (or even if you do!), just wait a minute, and it will change.
All of a sudden one night the temps plummeted into the 20’s, and we woke up to a winter wonderland of ice covering all the desert plants. If the scenic drive up to the Chisos Mountains was pretty before, now it was absolutely stunning.
Luckily, this round of ice melted quickly and we were able to enjoy a few hikes which I’ll cover in the next post!
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More info about Big Bend National Park:
- Big Bend National Park – US National Park Service Website
- Map and layout of Big Bend National Park – Click “View Park Map” on left
- Visit Big Bend – A Tourism Guide
- Big Bend National Park – The Wikipedia entry
- Boquillas del Carmen – A Taste of Mexico in Big Bend TX 04/03/15
- Terlingua, Texas – A Living Ghost Town in Big Bend 03/28/15
- Boondocking at Big Bend National Park – Cheap & Scenic RV Camping 03/26/15
- Big Bend National Park – Mountain, River & Desert Hikes 03/19/15
- A Glimpse of Big Bend National Park in Texas 03/05/15
- Big Bend Bound – To Texas!! 02/17/15