I had a fabulous time visiting Big Bend National Park!! For years and years I have heard people make comments about its beauty and ruggedness. However, it is quite isolated in far southwest area of Texas, way below Interstate 10. When planning my current motorhome trip, I put Big Bend as the first place to visit at the end of February and beginning of March. I knew I wanted to be ahead of spring break visitors and I was aware that it was too hot to visit during the summer. I stayed in the closest RV park to the national park.
Big Bend National Park is absolutely enormous! There are gorgeous drives, spectacular hikes, and rugged backcountry. The beauty of the scenery is awe inspiring. Every new part of the park has wonderful sites to behold.
My first day I drove the “Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive” and went on three small hikes along the way. Some sections reminded me of southern Arizona and other sections reminded me of southern Utah. At the end of the drive is the Santa Elena Canyon with the high canyon walls and the flowing Rio Grande river. It was truly spectacular to see.
The Rio Grande separates the US and Mexico. However, it does not seem to be too deep. I was warned to not wade across more than halfway, because then, by definition, I would be in Mexico and would need my passport to get back into the US. I stayed on the river bank and simply marveled at the beauty.
The second day, I visited Chisos Basin and went on a hike to “The Window.” I think this is the most famous hike in the national park. It is supposed to be four hours round trip. I took my camera and tripod, so it probably took me about five hours. The scenery throughout the hike was incredible. Around every bend was another new rugged mountain to stare at. I was expecting an arch for the “window,” but it was more of a slot in the rock that looked out onto a neighboring mountain. It was wonderful to see and I was glad to make it to the end of the hike. The return leg was uphill, and the sun was intense. Thank goodness for carrying three liters of water and wearing a big hat!
In the afternoon, I tackled the second most famous hike. This was first a drive on Grapevine Hills Road and then a hike to Balanced Rock. Most of the hike was not too difficult, but one couple told me they were using their feet and hands to make it up the boulder section to get to Balanced Rock. I loved looking at all the different rock formations along the hike! When I finally made to see Balanced Rock, I had fun photographing it from different angles.
The third day, I drove all the way to the Rio Grande Village. I went on a hike that provides nice views along the Rio Grande river. I met a couple from Iowa and the guy was skipping rocks across the Rio Grande river. He was excited when a rock made it across and he could say he “skipped a stone all the way to Mexico.” We laughed.
While walking along the trail, part of the edge of the trail gave away and I almost fell into the Rio Grande! I fell on one knee and my camera bumped into the river bank and my lens cap popped off and fell into the water. I was laughing and scrambling to try and catch my floating lens cap! I was able to move along the bank and grab it before it floated out into the meandering current. I became much more cautious about the trail after that episode!
I made sure I had my passport and then I drove to the Port of Entry. The agent told a group of Americans what we could and could not bring back into the US from Mexico. We then walked through the doors and down the path to the Rio Grande river. A guy had a row boat and for $5 cash he rowed across the river. Once in Mexico we had several transportation options to get to the town of Boquillas Del Carmen. You could walk, ride a donkey, ride a horse, or ride in someone’s truck. Each was choice was a bit more expensive. Riding a donkey was the most popular choice, followed by walking. I opted for walking. Boquillas was a very small town that is quite isolated. There were two restaurants and a bar. Many people had displays selling various trinkets along the rode. I felt obligated to buy something to help the local economy, so I bought a t-shirt.