Saturday, May 9, 2015

Auto Tour - 05/09/25 - Big Bend NP, TX

Saturday – May 9, 2015
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, Texas

Another hot day at Big Bend National Park with the temperature hitting 103 degrees. We decided this would be the perfect day to do an auto tour of the park in the comfort of our air-conditioned Ford E-150 Cargo Van.

We started the auto tour from our campsite at the Rio Grande Village Campground, elevation 1,850 feet, with stops at the following locations:

  • Panther Junction Visitor Center – Elevation 3,750 feet
  • Chisos Basin – Elevation 5,400 feet
  • Castolon – Cottonwood Campground – Elevation 2,169 feet
  • Santa Elena Canyon Overlook
  • Study Butte

The drive up to Chisos Basin allows the visitor to experience the transition between arid desert and cooler mountain habitats. This scenic, winding road rises over two thousand feet above the desert floor, it offers vistas of the mountain peaks and the erosion-formed basin area.

A portion of the auto tour took us on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This drive highlights the geologic splendor Big Bend is famous for, and offers many scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. At Santa Elena Canyon, limestone cliffs rise 1,500 feet above the Rio Grande River.

Big Bend National Park encompasses over 800,000 acres. From an elevation of less than 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend includes massive canyons, vast desert expanses, forested mountains, and an ever changing Rio Grande River.

Big Bend National Park represents one of the last remaining wild corners of the U.S. In fact, early explorers found the Big Bend Region so remote, so wild, that they called the area El Despoblado – the uninhabited land. One might feel alone in the wilderness of Big Bend, but even here the visitor is surrounded by life.

From the forests of the Chisos down to the floor of the desert, over 1,200 types of plants thrive in the park and support ecosystems full of pollinators, herbivores, and other wildlife.

  • Wild life at Big Bend National Park:
  • Black Bears – 15 to 20
  • Mountain Lions – about tow dozen
  • Javelinas – travel in packs of 10 to 25
  • Coyotes - typically solitary, but will hunt in small groups
  • Rattlesnakes – four species thrive here (Western Diamondback, Black-Tailed, Mojave, Rock)

We completed an invigorating, seven-hour tour of Big Bend National Park, logging 160 miles exploring this massive national park.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.


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