We had a long drive from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park. We were staying outside the park in a city named Terlingua. We set up camp in the evening and had dinner at a local diner. We had stopped on the way through the park and picked up our Junior Ranger books so started working on them a bit in the evening.
While at the park we saw some beautiful sights. We checked out a fossil sight and learned how long this land has been developing and all the animals that lived here in prehistoric times.
I checked out the rocks and the plants. I was deep in thought looking all the land in front of me.
Off to bed early as everyone was exhausted from the long drive. This was our last BIG drive for a while. From here on out we will be having shorter drives between points. We opted to take a dirt/gravel road called Old Maverick Road. It was about 14 miles of washboard bumpy roadsand boy was it AWESOME!
I laughed hard as I hung out the window as we drove at about 5 mph.
We saw jackrabbits, kangaroo mice, roadrunners, a javalina, buzzards, cotton tail rabbits and lots of bugs. Big Bend is part of the Chihuahuan Desert and the plants were so different. Some of my favorite were the ocotillo, sotol, century plant, agave, lechaguilla and lots of cacti. Everything was in bloom. The blooms on the cactus plants were so pretty.
We bought a book about the flora and fauna at Big Bend and Emmerson looked everything up to learn more about it. I looked some things up as well, but he was excited to do it so I let him.
We stopped at all the historical pull outs. I enjoyed the jacal. It was a shelter for a family made of rock and ocotillo plants. Inside the structure it was about 10-15 degrees cooler!
We drove down to the Rio Grande. There is a split in the cliffs that were about 1500 feet tall. One side is Texas and the other side is Mexico. We hiked down to the river and tossed stones into Mexico! The water felt really cold for the desert.
We continued our drive of the massive park and saw mountains made of tuff (volcanic ash) that settled and then lava on top of them. This entire area was made from old volcanos although there are no volcanos in the area today. Some of the mountains have funny names. This is Mule Ears.
The views were amazing.
Next we hiked the Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail. In times of high water in the area this turns into a waterfall.
There were lots of beautiful rainbow lizards.
I want a lizard like this when i grow up but a ranger told me they were better in their natural environment. I guess I will just have to work here someday!
At the end of the trail you come to the waterfall area. We decided to climb a bit. I got scared but made it up. Down was very hard but I made it safely to the ground.
On our hike back we spotted the most spectacular cactus of the trip so far!
We stopped by Terlingua Ghost Town. It wasn’t very much like ghost towns we had heard about. It was populated and tourist industry based. After a quick visit we headed out. I bought a Kokopelli rock, which Mom and Dad are blaming our strange weather on.
We called it a day and headed back to camp. A dust storm rolled in and we were shut inside for an hour. We headed back out late for an evening ranger program about “dark skies”. Basically we learned about light pollution at night and how it effects our bodies, minds and also the abilities to see the stars that our ancestors saw. Big Bend is registered as a Dark Sky area. The stars were AMAZING!
Up early again and off to explore more. We drove to the Rio Grande portion of the park next where we saw the pterogylphs and pictographs in the Hot Springs area.
We dipped out feet in the hot springs. The water was very warm and I could have stayed all day with my legs dangling into the waters. I did make Mom and Dad nervous as I scaled the wall with the rushing waters of the Rio Grande behind me.
We also stopped at a place called the “window”. It is a gap between the mountains that looks like it goes on forever.
We saw a nipple cactus too. They grow mostly underground!
We checked out the visitors centers and turned in our books to get our Junior Ranger patch and badge.
We headed back to camp for showers and food. Dad was the last to shower and got caught in another dust storm on the way back from the showers. He got safely inside when we heard a smash as debris was flying into the camper. After we could see more than a few feet we saw a giant sheet of insulation that had flew into us. No damage, thank goodness! It was quite a windy dust storm.
Overall, the scenery was amazing to say the least. I had no idea Texas had such different landscapes.
We added Texas to our state stickers too.
Off to Davis Mountain next to visit the McDonald Observatory!