Big Bend National Park

Location: southwest Texas
Dates: 10-11 January 2012

Burro Mesa

Big Bend National Park is an 800,000 acre expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande in Texas.  The park is centered around the Chisos Mountains, the only mountain range that is entirely within a national park as well as the southernmost range in the United States.

Chisos Mountains

I had hoped to stay several days and do some backpacking in the Chisos, but unfortunately that will have to wait until a later date.

Chisos Mountains

The first place I stopped in the park was the Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail.  This is an easy one mile round trip trail through a dry wash to the 100'+ pouroff that becomes a waterfall after heavy rains.  The cliffs along this trail are fairly colorful and an interesting lesson in geology.

Boquillas Canyon

After setting up my campsite at the Chisos Basin Campground, I hiked along the trails leading from the campground that provided good view of the Window before sunset.

Casa Grande Peak

Boquillas Canyon

I also hiked the Boquillas Canyon Trail, which is the canyon downstream of Rio Grande Village.  This is also an easy trail that is about one mile round trip that follows the river a short distance into the canyon until you can walk no further.  I was surprised how small and calm the Rio Grande was, especially in this deep canyon.

Sierra del Carmen

The distances in Big Bend are vast, and travel on the roads takes a long time because of the 45 mph speed limit.  Between Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village the views stretch from the Chisos Mountains to the higher Sierra del Carmen in Mexico.  Along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive the road traverses more interesting topography while providing views of the Chisos and all the way to Santa Elena Canyon.


Big Bend has incredible biodiversity, including many species not commonly found in the United States.  These include 1,200 plants, 450 birds, 75 mammals, and 56 reptiles.

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