Boquillas del Carmen – A Taste of Mexico in Big Bend TX

March, 2015 – In the Big Bend area of Texas, the Rio Grande River separates the United States from Mexico, and during our stay in Big Bend, we decided to slip across the border to visit the quiet Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen on the other side.

Back when we cruised Mexico on our sailboat, we saw lots of travel literature that talked about finding the “Real Mexico.” There seemed to be an idea that border towns and tourist beach towns somehow aren’t “Real” or aren’t really Mexico.

Yet we found that no matter where we went in Mexico, the culture was distinctly “Mexican,” and I think it was very real to the locals who called these places home.

Bienvenidos a Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

We’re in Mexico (with Aussie/British friends Amanda and David)!!

Even so… Would we find the “Real Mexico” we had grown to love so much here in a little village sandwiched between two huge national parks on either side of the border? The answer turned out to be a resounding Yes!

The border crossing is as formal as any, and going into Mexico here felt more formal than the last time we entered Mexico at the gargantuan border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, especially since we were just leaving the US to visit Mexico for a few hours!

Once we passed out of the US gate, we walked down a dirt path. Suddenly we looked up to see a group of Mexican men hanging around on the far side of the river, the Sierra del Carmen mountains towering behind them.

Looking across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park to Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Our Mexican hosts wait — and sing — for us on the other side of the Rio Grande.

As soon as they spotted us, one man began singing a Mexican folk song in a very full voice that rang out with wonderful clarity across the river.

Ahhh, Mexico!! How this culture loves music!

A young man was rowing a boat towards us and we hustled down to the water’s edge.

Ferry across Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park to Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

We take the ferry across the border.

We hopped in the boat, and as our ferry captain rowed, the welcoming sounds of our greeter’s wonderful song filled the air from the far shore. In just a few strokes of the oars we were disembarking on the other side.

Ferry Terminal Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

At the Ferry Terminal we meet Victor, our singing host, and pay for our round trip ferry ride.

The Ferry Terminal consisted of a cable spool on its side, a folding table and a cut-off plastic milk jug for money. The singer (and ticket agent), whose name was Victor, and several other men that we later found out were personal guides were waiting for us. We paid $5 for the round-trip ferry ride and were offered three ways to get to town a mile away: by burro ($5) or by taxi ($5) or walking (free).

The burros looked really fun…

Burros waiting in Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Burros wait to take visitors into town.

Other visitors chose to take the burro ride that day. But we opted to stretch our legs and walk.

Riding a burro to Boquillas del Carmen Mexico near Big Bend National Park Texas

We decided to walk, but other travelers had fun on the burros!

We weren’t sure what to expect when we got to town. We were traveling with our EarthRoamer RVing friends David and Amanda, and the only thing we had all planned on doing was having a Mexican lunch with Coronas and/or Margaritas. So I asked our guide where a good place was for that, and he said “José Falcon’s Restaurant.”

Jose Falcon's Restaurant Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

José Falcon’s Restaurant is the biggest game in town.

Sure enough, when we got to town, it was the biggest and brightest building on the street — and was one of just a handful of buildings all together! A few doors down on the other side of the street was the other popular cantina.

Bark Bar Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Another option for a beer and genuine Mexican food.

Before we could start exploring, however, we made a quick stop at the trailer that houses Mexico’s Customs and Immigration office, and we filled out tourist permit forms and got our passports stamped and were issued short term visas that we returned when we checked out at the end of the day.

Formalities, done, we wandered outside and suddenly heard music and singing again. We walked a few paces to find an old man in a wheel chair, his faithful dog at his side. He was strumming a guitar and singing for all he was worth.

Street musician Boquillas del Carmen Mexico Big Bend National Park Texas

A street musician entertains us.

We had to smile as we watched this musician, because funny as it sounds, this was the real deal. Street musicians give Mexico’s culture a special twist, and we’ve seen them everywhere. They’ve serenaded us on the beach, in out-of-the-way bars, even on the bus, of all places! And now here.

He paused for a moment to tell us he was 85 years old. “Born in 1930?” I asked in halting Spanish. “Yes!” He said, his eyes lighting up. He had just lost his wife a few months ago.

We wandered down the dirt road a little further and looked up to see two men coming into town riding horses. Was that classic, or what?!

Horesback riders in Boquillas del Carmen Mexico_

Right out of a movie!

A couple of little kids were running around with bracelets for sale. The little girl said her name was Maria, but even though she repeated her friend’s name three times, I never quite understood what she said! Our friend David managed to have quite a conversation with both of them!

Little Mexican kids Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Our friend David finds new friends in town.

Throughout all our wanderings, our guide, Fermin (pronounced “Fair-MEEN”), never strayed too far. The guides aren’t formally assigned to visitors, but all the gringos in town for the day were walking with one. He gave us insights into life in this tiny rural village, showing us the hospital where there are two doctors on staff.

Mexican guide at Boquillas del Carmen

Our guide Fermin shows us the local hospital.

The village church was painted a wonderful bright yellow…

Church in Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

We’ve seen vivid yellow cathedrals in other parts of Mexico, so why not a yellow chapel here?

And we were very impressed that the town operates on solar power!

Solar power Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Solar panels power this town.

Tourism is really important to Boquillas, and the villagers participate on many levels. One woman makes hand towels and tablecloths that she displayed with clothes pins on a fence.

Towels and tablecloths on clothesline

Embroidered towels and tablecloths for sale.

We returned to José Falcon’s restaurant and took a peek out back on the deck that overlooks the Rio Grande. This river is called the Rio Bravo by the Mexicans.

Jose Falcon's Nest Boquillas del Carmen Mexico near Big Bend Texas

The “Falcon’s Nest” overlooks the Rio Grande.

Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo River) Boquillas del Carmen Mexico

Mexicans call the Rio Grande the “Rio Bravo.”

Much to my surprise, as we kicked back in the sun and chatted over lunch, I noticed a person at another table who’s face I had seen only in photos online. I did a double-take when I looked at his wife, as I now realized with certainty that they were Ray, who writes the wonderful blog Love Your RV, and his wife Anne, who teaches photography at Anne McKinnell Photography. Who woulda thunk? I swung by their table to say “hello” and introduce myself. We were all so surprised to bump into each other here in Boquillas, Mexico, of all places!

But that’s the kind of fun and magic that makes this traveling lifestyle so special. Settling back with our friends Amanda and David, we savored the afternoon and were very reluctant to leave. This was such a perfect spot to wind up a very relaxing and pleasant day.

Lunch deck Jose Falcon's Boquillas del Carmen Mexico Big Bend National Park Texas

What a delightful day this turned out to be!

As we hung out in the warm sunshine, unwinding in the familiar plastic chairs that are the standard decor in every outdoor cantina across Mexico, we felt ourselves happily transported.

If this wasn’t the “Real Mexico,” then I really don’t know what is. Other than having a different view, the feeling and vibe were exactly the same as we found when we traveled through stunning Guanajuato, exotic Palenque, idyllic Huatulco and laid back Zihuatanejo, and each of those places was a true five-star highlight in our journey so far.

If you are going to Big Bend National Park in Texas, don’t forget your passport, and make sure you treat yourself to a few hours in Boquillas del Carmen where the sweet taste of Mexico is very real.

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

<-Previous || Next->

More info about Boquillas del Carmen:

Related pages about Mexico:

Related posts about Big Bend:

Terlingua, Texas – A Living Ghost Town in Big Bend

March, 2015 – After many days of hiking and photography during our visit to Big Bend National Park in Texas, we took a wonderful excursion to the little town of Terlingua, just few miles west on Route 170 outside the west end of the park.

This is a historical mining ghost town that has been brought back to life with a hippie vibe. When we arrived we saw a group of folks —all skeletons — having a party in a big ol’ bus heading for Miami Beach.

Terlingua skeletons in a bus

A Hippie Bus of skeletons heads for Miami Beach from the Great Beyond…

As we drove further into town, we looked over and saw the masts of a ship. What?? We backed up and looked again. Yup! Apparently someone was dreaming of the sea when they built their home in Terlingua!

Passing Wind ship in Terlingua Texas in Big Bend

Wait, is that a ship?! Yes, it is — and it’s Passing Wind.

The town has its origins in the 1880’s when cinnabar was discovered. Cinnabar, we found out, is not a candy bar version of the cinnabun. It’s a metal from which mercury is extracted. The Chisos Mining Company set up shop shortly after the discovery, and immigrant miners from Mexico soon began working the mine. We found it fascinating to wander around the old cemetery. All of the deceased had been Mexicans, it seems, and the style of the cemetery was distinctly Mexican.

Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery in Texas

Terlingua has a wonderful ghost town cemetery.

Terlingua Texas ghost town cemetery Big Bend Texas

The style of the graves was distinctly Mexican.

There are all kinds of headstones and graves in the cemetery. Many graves are marked with a simple wooden cross. But some are quite elaborate. Many of them have a small stone shrine that shelters trinkets of various kinds.

Shrine in Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery Big Bend Texas

A shrine in the ghost town cemetery

We heard that the Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebration (the day after Halloween) is quite an event here in the Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery!

Skull in a cemetery shrine

I would love to see the Day of the Dead celebration here!

Nearby there are ruins of the homes the miners lived in. We felt like explorers as we prowled around some of the different buildings. There are lots and lots of buildings, and they are in various stages of decline.

Ruins in Terlingua Ghost Town Texas

Some of the ruins are in better shape than others, but all make great photo ops!

None of them have windows or doorways that are intact, but there were some pretty views from where the buildings were situated.

Looking out a ruined doorway in Terlingua Texas

The homes might have been small but they had great views.

Inside a ruin in ghost town Terlingua Big Bend Texas

What stories could these walls tell?

The Chisos mine was at its heyday in the early part of the last century, because Mercury was in high demand during WWI. However, even though there were hopes that there would be another boom cycle for mercury during WWII, it never materialized. So in 1946 the mine was abandoned.

Rusty car and old building in Terlingua

Remnants of bygone times.

Today, people have moved back in and started making use of the ruins, breathing life back into them and incorporating the ruins into their homes and businesses.

Mining ruins incorporated into modern houses in Terlingua Texas

New homes and business rise up among the ruins.

There is a sense of history all around town.

Old stone building Terlingua Texas

The old movie theater is now a restaurant and bar with the rusting relic of an antique car out front.

Rusty antique car and old theater building in Terlingua

The movie theater was called the “Chisos Theater” in the 30’s. Now it is a restaurant and bar.

Nearby is the jail, with antique handcuffs hanging from the bars!!

Antique handcuffs in Terlingua Texas

Tools to keep the town tame!

This is a town that is just a little offbeat, and a local artist has created some intriguing metal sculptures. One is a very large flying bug!

Flying bug in Terlingua Texas


There are several places to get a bite to eat sitting outside on a deck. The Boathouse looked like an intriguing place but wasn’t open…

Boathouse in Terlingua Texas

Next time…

But a little B&B, called La Posada, had wonderful Mexican food and four rooms to rent. A pair of long distance cyclists were staying there, and they were poring over maps.

This seemed to be the place the locals liked to come and hang out in the mornings, and we met a man in his 80’s who walked 3 miles each way from his home to get a coffee and chat with his friends here every morning! He wore a crisply pressed shirt and jeans with a big cowboy belt buckle and cowboy hat, and he said he just loved living in Terlingua.

La Posada Milagro cafe in Terlingua Texas

La Posada is a cute place for a meal or an overnight, and it’s where the locals hang out over coffee.

If you are heading to Big Bend, and you’ve gotten your fill of nature in the National Park, a side trip to Terlingua can make for a really fun change of pace!

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

More Info about Terlingua

Related posts:

<-Previous || Next->

Boondocking at Big Bend National Park – Cheap & Scenic RV Camping

How to “Boondock” at Big Bend National Park

Big Bend in Texas is an unusual park in the National Park System because they offer a few inexpensive RV dry camping sites scattered about the park grounds. It isn’t really “boondocking” like you’d find on other government public land managed by the US National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. However, it is a very inexpensive and scenic alternative to staying in a conventional RV park or campground. For first-time boondockers, it can offer a great introduction to dry camping amid nature and solitude in your RV.

Big Bend National Park assigns these campsites on a first-come first-serve basis, as if the entire National Park were one huge campground. The sites that are big enough for large RVs are very few and are tightly controlled, and the system for obtaining a “Backcountry Camping Permit” to stay in one can be confusing. Here is what we learned about the system when we took part in it for two weeks during February and March, 2015.

RV Boondocking and camping in Big Bend National Park Texas

“Boondocking” at Big Bend National Park

All five of the Visitors Centers in the park have computer access to a database of dispersed campsites throughout the park. You can obtain a permit and reserve a site in person from a ranger at one of these Visitors Centers 24 hours ahead of your stay. The permit is $10 and you can reserve up to 14 consecutive nights in specific campsites on a single permit, reserving as many different sites as you like and as are available.

An important point is that the permit is good only for the actual nights and sites you reserve through the ranger when you purchase the permit. If you want to extend your stay or change your campsite after you buy your permit, you have to cancel the remaining nights on your permit and buy a new one. Also, you can’t obtain a permit to reserve a site without appearing at a Visitors Center in person.

As a courtesy to other campers: if you don’t use all the nights on your permit (the weather might turn and send you scurrying, as it did to us), be sure to cancel the remaining nights on your permit by stopping in at the Visitors Center or calling them. Otherwise, the site will sit vacant while other RVers are wishing they could use it.

Big Bend National Park Texas RV boondocking_

“Boondocking” at Big Bend National Park

Many RVers have small driveable rigs and there is no evidence they are using a site during the day while they are out hiking, so unless you tell the Park Service you are vacating your site, they will have no way of knowing that you left early.

Our Experience Getting a Permit

From what we observed, there is one computer at each Visitors Center that has access to the backcountry camping permit database, so a line for permits forms during popular times. We stood in line at the Panther Junction Visitors Center in the middle of the park for 30 minutes on a Saturday morning when the weather for the next few days was predicted to be sunny and in the high 70’s.

The other people in line were primarily backpackers and car/tent campers getting permits either to do extended overnight hikes across the park or to camp in remote dispersed campsites we could never reach with our truck and trailer. We were the only RVers in line waiting for a site big enough for a big rig.

Each person spent about 5 minutes with the ranger, first reviewing the map of the National Park to pick out a campsite and to learn from the ranger what the site was like, and then filling out the permit application, and lastly listening to the ranger read the camping rules aloud.

Big Bend National Park RV camping and boondocking in Texas_

Hannold Draw

When our turn came, we were advised against staying in a particular site that we later found out would have been perfectly fine. However, an RVer had complained at one time that the site was unlevel, so this particular ranger decided not to present that site as a viable option to other RVers with big rigs.

It is wise to study the National Park map (click here and go to “View Park Map” — the campsites are the light colored tents) and even to drive to the various dispersed campsites to assess whether or not your rig will fit and whether you might enjoy camping there. In general, rigs under 30-35 feet in total length end-to-end (hitched up) would fit in most sites along the main roads.

One of the rules that appears to be enforced is that you are not allowed to run a generator in backcountry camping sites. We overheard two rangers discussing a tent camper who had hidden a generator in his tent! If you don’t have solar power installed on your RV, a small portable solar power kit may be the way to go.

amping in Big Bend National Park in an RV in Texas

“Government Spring” site at Grapevine Hills

RV Camping Strategies at Big Bend

It is common to find that all the campsites are booked for the first few days after you arrive. So, plan to stay elsewhere at first and keep checking back until a site opens up.

The campground at Rio Grande Village on the far eastern end of the park has both full hookup sites that can be reserved online and dry camping sites that are first-come first-serve. Rates range from $33 for full hookups to $14 for dry camping to half that for Seniors with the Senior Access Pass.

The other two campgrounds inside Big Bend National Park — Cottonwood, towards the southwest near the Santa Elena Canyon hike, and Chisos Campground, up in the mountains near the Lost Mine and Window Trail hikes (review of those hikes here) — have smaller sites that may not accommodate bigger rigs. However the Big Bend Resort & Adventures RV Park in Terlingua-Study Butte just outside the western boundary of the park offers full hookups and advanced reservations.

Each of the “boondocking” campsites we saw in Big Bend has pros and cons. One strategy for tackling Big Bend National Park with an RV is to spend a few days camped on the western side at Big Bend RV Adventures, a few days of “boondocking” in the dispersed campsites in the middle and a few days in Rio Grande Village at the eastern end of the park, as there are outstanding things to see and do in each of these locales. Camping near your planned activiites will cut way down on the commuter driving you do across the park!

For those with more rugged rigs, there are some fabulous sounding campsites that will get you deep into nature. We didn’t camp at or even see these locations, but friends with an Earth Roamer RV enjoyed some true backcountry camping experiences in their rig.

RV camping boondocking in Big Bend National Park Texas

Grapevine Hills

Summary of the Larger Backcountry RV Campsites in Big Bend:

Grapevine Hills

There are three campsites on this dirt road that goes 6 miles out to the Grapevine Hills hike with the balancing rock. The first is 0.3 miles in on the left side and is suitable for a big rig. This particular site is also known as “Government Spring” and can accommodate a big rig and a smaller one comfortably if friends are traveling together.

Campsites two and three are 3.7 miles down the road on the right hand side and they are essentially a double site. The views of the Chisos Mountains are lovely, however this is a very busy road with lots of people flying by at wild speeds to get to and from the hiking trail at the end, so it can be very dusty.

Paint Gap

There are three campsites on the first part of this dirt road. The first at 0.9 miles would be suitable for a rig of 35′ or less end-to-end. The second and third are 2.1 miles in and are good for a trailer of 25′ or so. We weren’t sure we could have squeezed our 36′ fiver in there. See the comment from Robin below who had a great time there with a 24′ travel trailer.

Croton Springs

There are two campsites in a huge open area at the end of this dirt road down about 0.5 miles. Probably 3 or 4 big RVs could fit if friends were traveling together. This is the site that one RVer apparently felt was too unlevel for a big rig, but when we drove down here we thought it would have been an awesome place to stay and just wished the ranger had mentioned it as an option.


This is a very rough dirt road that has a small site for a small trailer, van or truck camper at 1.1 miles. Further on, at 1.5 miles, there is a little more room, but it would take some jockeying for a big rig to get set up. See the comment below from Robin who said they loved the second site and got their 24′ travel trailer into it just fin!

Hannold Draw

This is a highway maintenance yard about 0.1 miles down a dirt road that has a huge site big enough for several RVs and even has a horse corral. The entrance is quite steep and we used 4×4 Low Gear to climb out. The enormous trash heaps are a little off-putting as you drive in (“Are we going camping in a junkyard?” we asked each other!), but there is a berm on the west side that provides wind protection (if it’s from the west), and the mountain view is beautiful.

Dust on the road camping in Big Bend Texas

Dust can be a problem at some sights (this is Grapevine Hills).


  • The busy seasons at Big Bend National Park are Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break in March.
  • There is water at the Panther Junction VIsitors Center (limit: 5 gallons per person per day)
  • There are RV dump stations at Big Bend Adventures RV Park outside the western boundary of the park and at Rio Grande Village at the eastern end of the park.
  • Cell phone and cellular based internet access is acceptable at the boondocking sites with a WiFi booster and antenna. WiFi is sometimes available at Rio Grande Village, however when we were there we heard it had been turned off because someone had been abusing the priviledge.


Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info from the National Park Service website:

Related Posts about Big Bend National Park:

Related Posts about Solar Power and Boondocking:

Other great RV dry camping areas:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

Big Bend National Park – Mountain, River & Desert Hikes

February, 2015 – Big Bend National Park in Texas has a really varied landscape. It is possible to go from a river habitat to a desert habitat to a mountain habitat without ever leaving the park! There are lots of hiking options in each of these terrains, and we enjoyed sampling the different locales, sticking to lower elevation hikes on cold days and higher elevation hikes on hot days.

The heart of the park is the Chisos Mountains, a range that juts up from the desert floor (down around 1,800 feet elevation), and soars to heights of over 7,800 feet. A quick walk out to an overlook gave us some beautiful views.

Overlook at Big Bend National Park Texas

An overlook in the Chisos Mountains.

We hiked the Window Trail one day, an easy 5.6 mile round trip hike from the central lodge. Because of the huge variations in elevation in this park, any mountain hike like this one is good for a warmer day.

Window Trail Hike in Big Bend National Park Texas

Beginning the Window Trail hike.

We expected to find a “window” somewhere along this hike. Descending a scenic dirt path, we were amazed when we suddenly found ourselves in a fun little canyon that was lined with large, flat and smooth rock that had been worn down over the ages by Oak Creek. The rangers have carved some really neat stairways through this part to make the hiking super easy.

Window Trail Hike Big Bend National Park Texas

Stairs make this hike even easier!

We were still on the lookout for that “window” as we made our way across the cool, shaded rocks. What we found, however, was not a window so much as vast opening in the canyon walls that peeked out at the desert floor in the distance. It was very dramatic — but quite slick too. Our intrepid RVing friend, Amanda, braved the slippery slope and went out for a closer look.

The Window on the Window Trail Hike in Big Bend

At last… a glimpse of the “window.”

The Santa Elena hike is down at the desert floor level of the park at the southwest end, and it follows the Rio Grande river into another stunning canyon. The scenic drive to get there warmed up our camera shutter fingers, and when we arrived at Santa Elena we found people out enjoying the warm sunshine on the banks of the river. Farmilies played on the edge of the water, and other folks kicked back for a little relaxation in the sun.

This 1.7 mile hike involves a lot of climbing, twisting and turning through a series of switchbacks at the beginning. At one switchback I noticed a beautiful glow coming from behind the rocks out on a ledge. I left the trail to go see what I could see, and soon found myself precariously tip-toeing along a steep rock face with the Rio Grande twinkling up at me from many feet below. I managed to get past the spooky part and found a huge rock overhang that was beautifully lit in the late afternoon light.

On the beach Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend Texas

Santa Elena Canyon has a beach in front of it!

Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend National Park Texas

A nice place to kick back and get some sun.

At Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend Texas

Views at the beginning of the hike

Light glowing under rocks in Big Bend National park Texas

Late afternoon light glowing behind a rock overhang lures me off the trail.

Once I got back on the trail, I realized I had totally lost track of Mark (and we’d forgotten to bring our trusty two-way radios…darn!). I kept asking hikers that were on the return trip if they had seen a guy in a gray shirt taking lots of photos. I got plenty of reassurances that he was ahead of me — and that all the climbing was well worth the views at the end!

Hikers descend on trail in Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend National Park Texas

Hikers returning down the trail ahead of me.

We had chosen to do this hike in the afternoon, and that turned out to be a great time to go, as the sun had finally penetrated the depths of the canyon. Photographers who were there in the morning said the light hadn’t been great — but the shade would be a welcome respite at a hotter time of year!

When I finally caught up with Mark, the trail was empty, and we were the only ones in the wonderful big open area at the end of the trail. Huge boulders begged to be climbed on, and a fabulous view between the lofty canyon walls opened up to the sunset-lit cliffs beyond.

Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon iin Big Bend Texas

The Rio Grande laps boulders on its way out the canyon.

Big Bend National Park looking into Santa Elena Canyon in Texas

Santa Elena Canyon

After enjoying the cool rock walls carved by creeks and canyons that we saw on the Window Trail and Santa Elena hikes, we then sampled a true desert hike out in abundant sunshine: the Grapevine Hills hike. This hike was at the desert floor altitude, but instead of finding ourselves surrounded by sheer rock cliffs that had been formed by a flowing river or stream, we passed through a wide open area that was rimmed with wonderful rock hoodoos.

The further we went on the trail, the more fun this hike became, as it twisted and turned its way into the rock hoodoos. This was like a kid’s playground. We scampered all over the rocks, feeling very much like kids, and at the end of the hike we found the signature rock formation — a balancing rock.

Balancing Rock Big Bend National Park Texas

The Balancing Rock at the end of the Grapevine Hills Hike.

Under the balancing rock in Big Bend National Park Texas

Looking through the balancing rock.

Grapevine Hills hike to Balancing Rock in Big Bend Texas

Having fun crawling around on the boulders.

Grapevine Hills Balancing Rock hike in Big Bend Texas

Nature in balance.

The wonderful thing about Big Bend National Park is that you can pick your destinations within the park to suit the climate of the day. We saw both hot, dry weather and freezing cold, wet weather during our two week stay, and we were grateful that during the heat we could play outside in the mountains and during the cold spells we could hang out at the lower elevations.

We also saw a very unexpected weather pattern that we’ve never experienced before: a thermal inversion between the desert floor and the mountains. For quite a few days it was 15 degrees warmer in the Chisos Mountains than it was at the lower elevation parts of the park thousands of feet below!

Lost Mine Hike Big Bend National Park Texas

Ascending the Lost Mine Trail.

Another very popular hike is the Lost Mine trail. This 5.1 mile hike took us on a steady climb through woods and trees, opening up after a while to huge views. We did the hike in the afternoon, so the mountains that filled our views as we hiked were shaded and not as dramatic as they could be.

As we approached the summit, the trail took a turn, and the golden light of late afternoon lit up the distant mountains in spectacular color. Like the other hikes, this end point was a true playground, with boulders to climb on and spots to perch and enjoy a snack with a view.

At the summit of the Lost Mine Hike Big Bend National Park

The summit opens up dramatic views in the late afternoon sun.

Tree at the top of Lost Mine Hike Big Bend Texas

I just LOVE that tree!!

Big Bend is a hiker’s paradise, and many people we met were embarking on multi-day backpacking hikes across the park. We stuck to short day hikes, but found them all very fulfilling.

RV Camping at Big Bend National Park Texas

Goodnight, Big Bend!!

Backpacking is great, but there is something about having a warm, soft bed and no twigs or rocks in your back at night that we really like, especially when you have a beautiful view!! (Here are some details about boondocking and RV camping in Big Bend).

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

More info about day hikes in Big Bend National Park (from the US National Park Service):

Related posts:

<-Previous || Next->

Big Bend National Park TX – Vast and Varied with Views!

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!

Big Bend National Park and Sierra del Carmen mountains in Texas with motorcycles

Sweeping views in Big Bend National Park!

Big Bend scenic roads with a tunnel

Don’t worry, RVs fit through this tunnel!

Big Bend National Park Texas

The Sierra del Carmen mountains peek from behind a ridge.

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.

Sierra del Carmen mountains in Big Bend National Park Texas

The imposing Sierra del Carmen mountains can easily be seen from miles away.

Sierra del Carmen mountains in Big Bend

These are at the east end of the park by Rio Grande Village and the Mexican town of Boquillas.

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.

Scenic drives in Big Bend National Park Texas

The Chisos Mountains tower over the center of the park

Mountain scenery in Big Bend

Returning on the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive in late afternoon…

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.

RV surrounded by Texas bluebonnet flowers

Spring arrives in February, heralded by abundant bluebonnet flowers.

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.

Spring in Big Bend bluebonnets blooming

After a swoopy turn on the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive, we found a huge
bluebonnet rock garden planted by Mother Nature.

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.

Bird on a twig

This little guy kept an eye on me.

Bird nest in a cactus in Big Bend Texas

Not far away was a well protected nest.

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear LOVE Big Bend and come in many varieties.

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.

Snow and ice in Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

Texas can deliver some crazy weather, and Big Bend is no exception.

Century plant with snow in Big Bend Texas

The ice on the century plants was very cool.

Snow on plants in Big Bend

Ice in the desert!

Ice on the trees in Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park Texas

The drive into the Chisos Mountains was even more thrilling with all the lower elevation plants laced in ice.

Luckily, this round of ice melted quickly and we were able to enjoy a few hikes which I’ll cover in the next post!


Never miss a post — it’s free!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

More info about Big Bend National Park:

Related Posts:

<-Previous || Next->

A Glimpse of Big Bend National Park in Texas

A huge windstorm has wiped out cell service in Big Bend National Park here in Texas, so we have been scurrying to the Visitors Center every so often to check our email, get a weather report and make sure the real world out there is still okay. in the meantime, Big Bend has given us some incredible beauty and big surprises.

Surprised face in a tree

Big Bend has been full of surprises, including this surprised looking face in a tree!

It’s a huge park, and going anywhere is at least a 25 mile drive. But the drives are awesome! There are rock formations, badlands, cliffs, mountains, rivers and more.

Entering Big Bend National Park Texas

The drives around the park are full of sweeping views.

An RV drives past Sierra del Carmen in Big Bend National Park Texas

Huge vistas dwarf an RV on the road in Big Bend

We’ve enjoyed some fabulous hike through boulder fields, to balancing rocks and into canyons with cliffs towering above us. But this place always keeps you on your toes. A few mornings ago, after enduring below-freezing temps overnight, we woke up to dense fog and lacy frost decorating everything.

Balancing Rock Big Bend National Park Texas

There are cool rock formations everywhere.

Icicles and frost on a yucca in Big Bend National Park Texas

A century plant flower is covered with glittering frost.

Icicles and frost in Big Bend National Park Texas

The Chisos Mountains were transformed by frilly frost on the trees.

Despite our red noses and beanie hats, we loved every icy minute we spent in this world of mini icicles, and we’re hoping it happens again! The delicate patterns on all the desert plants were exquisite. Pretty tendrils of ice on a yucca plant gave it a whole new look.

Lace patterns of ice and frost on a yucca in Big Bend Texas

Graceful tendrils of ice and frost make pretty patterns on a yucca plant

And then, as quickly as it formed, the frost disappeared under the rising sun. Little birds began chirping again, and the wildflowers opened up to the warm sunshine.

Wild flowers in Big Bend National Park Texas

Once the frost melted away, the wildflowers bloomed again.

Little bird on a yucca plant

Bird songs filled the air on some of our mountain hikes.

The day faded away with a beautiful sunset…

RV at sunset in Texas outside Big Bend National Park

The sunsets at Big Bend have been beautiful

Our most recent posts (find more Latest Posts in the MENUS above):

Related Posts from our RV travels to Big Bend:

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Big Bend Bound – To Texas!!

We’ve been in Texas for a few days, and she has shown us all her colors, in the great big flamboyant way that makes Texas Texas! It’s been roasting hot, fearsomely cold, cloudy, sunny and pouring rain. We even had sleet, and last night we got hail.

We’ve arrived in Big Bend and may disappear into the vastness for a while. It’s a great big beautiful world out here!! Here are some pics from the road in…

Alpine Texas Cow Dog RV

I’m not sure exactly what a “cow dog” is but you can get them on a bun from this rig in Alpine Texas!

Rainbow over our fifth wheel trailer RV in Alpine Texas

A rainbow after the deluge of rain, hail and sleet!

Windmill and barn in Big Bend Texas

Windmill and barn in Big Bend Texas

Blue bonnets in Big Bend Texas

The blue bonnets are in bloom!

Birthday Beer from Shiner Texas

Shiner Brewery (from Shiner Texas) brewed me some
birthday beer — thanks!

Alien Ale from Roswell New Mexico

Mark found himself some Alien Ale in Roswell New Mexico (site of a spaceship landing in 1947)

Blue bonnets in bloom in Big Bend Texas

Delicate and wild…

Mexican style Window in Big Bend Texas

Hints of Mexico…

First glimpse of Big Bend Texas with our RV

Our first glimpse of Big Bend, Texas

We’ve got lots of travel posts to share from these recent busy weeks, with great shots of sandhill cranes and aliens (the extra-terrestrial kind). Plus I’ve got 90% of a post written about our new Edge Tuner that has turned our truck from ordinary to extraordinary. But we may be away from the internet and playing outside for a while, so all that stuff may just have to wait!!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the top MENU above.

Related Posts:

Never miss a post — it’s free!