Big Bend National Park: A Vast and Beautiful Wonderland

Big Bend lives up to both words which make up its famous name.  It is bigger than big and features grand vistas and wide valleys.  There are stunning rock formations, an infamous river and adventures on land and in the water. If you want a more extreme adventure, I recommend driving a four-wheel drive/high center vehicle on some of the dirt roads or take a kayak down the Rio Grande River. 

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This is not a barren desert.  The landscape has many different species of plants and cactus.  It is a thriving ecosystem in a place that doesn’t get a ton of precipitation.  In fact, this area averages about 14 inches of precipitation per year.  Obviously the Rio Grande river basin helps but some of these areas like Panther Junction and Chisos Basin produce vibrant foliage. 

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Sunset watchers have some choices at Big Bend.  The patio at Chisos Mountain Lodge is pretty wonderful.  If you enjoy a more 360 degree view, Gano Springs Road or the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive give you ample opportunity to see shades of light and shadows against mountains, mesas and rolling hills. 

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On a clear day, you can see mountains for miles and miles.  Main Park Road which takes you from Panther Junction to the Persimmon Gap visitor center is a long drive so be prepared.  The road features the Fossil Exhibit which I featured in another article and I highly recommend.  Big Bend is a big park, measuring over 800,000 acres, and this drive covers a huge chunk of land. 

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Have you visited Big Bend National Park?  What was your experience like?  For more information on Big Bend, click the link below.

Big Bend National Park: Big Fossils and a Lil Hobo


In preparing for my journey to Big Bend National Park, I spent considerable time trying to figure out where I should stay.  The park is huge at 801,163 acres so I knew I would need at least 2 days to cover the major hotspots.  A quick search on Priceline returned 14 results, 11 of which are 70 miles away in either Alpine or Marathon, TX.  The other 3 choices are: a ranch about 40 miles outside the park; a golf resort and spa charging $175/night; and the Chisos Mountain Lodge which is $160/night. 

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Those choices didn’t appeal to me so I decided to see what Air BnB offered.  The array of hospitable choices was very limited.  It spanned the typical tent space for $20-40/night, to broken down buses and 60’s and 70’s style pull campers which had zero style upgrades.  I went with the Lil Hobo pull camper for $60/night.  The space also afforded a fire pit, an outdoor shower and a toilet where you weren’t supposed to flush the toilet paper.  I tell no lies here.  I slept here, but did not shower here since I normally left early in the morning before the water would have been warm and returned in the evening when it would have been cold.  Timmmaaayyy can’t do cold showers.  I’m a princess like that.  I could have used the ranch showers a couple miles up the road but I was gone before they opened up in the morning. 

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The Lil Hobo is located about 40 miles from the entrance of the park off Terlingua Ranch Road.  It is about 20 miles east of Route 118.  The road is paved for about 12 miles, then dirt for 4 miles, then off-road for 4 miles.  My advice would be to have a high-center vehicle if you are going to stay way out in the wild like this.  This is a great place to watch the sun rise or set and stargazing.  There’s nothing out there except residences that are about a mile apart.  If you want to get away from humanity, this is the place to be.  There are more than a few survivalists with their guns and Don’t Tread on Me Flags.  Make sure that you bring plenty of supplies with you because your food choices are very limited.  You can eat at the lodge in the park or at a couple of restaurants in Terlingua which is a small town just outside the park.  Other than that, your nearest Walmart is in Alpine—70+ miles away.  My recommendation would be, if you don’t mind paying $150-200/night at the Chisos Mountain Lodge then go for it.  If you are cost conscious then look at some of the other choices in the Terlingua area.  If you want to get away from it all then look at the area north of Terlingua on AirBnB.  Places like the Lil Hobo have tons of character and you will appreciate them if you like roughing it more than me.

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Fossil Discovery Exhibit

Just off the Main Park Road in the north central area of the park is the Fossil Discovery Exhibit.  It gives a detailed history of the area and how it was under water 90 million years ago.  Huge fish, dinosaurs and flying creatures all lived in the area and are featured in the exhibit.

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The Alamosaurus Femur pictured here is 6 feet tall.  For anyone who is fascinated by history or dinosaurs, this is a must-see exhibit. 

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Have you visited Big Bend National Park?  What was your experience like?  Click the link for more information about Big Bend.