Texas’ Big Bend National Park a Desert Oasis

One of the greatest national parks in America is Big Bend, which is located in the Lone Star state of Texas. The park is just over 801,000 acres in size and was established back in 1944. The area is filled with numerous types of Chihuahuan Desert vegetation as well as lush floodplains, and narrow canyons.

The Rio Grande also flows through the park and the mighty Chisos Mountains can be found here. Some of the wildlife you’ll come across includes mountain lions, deer, scorpions, snakes, and bears as well as 450 bird species. There are also close to 1,200 species of plants here, with some of them unique to the park.

 Big Bend National Park(photo credit: cdweber)

The rocks inside of Big Bend National Park are millions of years old and some of the mountains were created about 75 million years ago, while the Chisos Mountains are about 35 million years old. Human history in this area stretches back 10,000 years. Some of the inhabitants over the centuries have included native Apache and Comanche Indians, Spanish conquistadores, miners, American soldiers, farmers, ranchers, Mexican revolutionaries, and numerous bandits and outlaws.

The park is a great place to visit at any time of the year, but the autumn and winter are generally considered to be the best. You’ll be able to see the leaves on the mountain trees turn beautiful colors in the fall and the winters are quite mild. When the summer comes, you will sometimes see the thermometer reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s always a little bit cooler in the Chisos Mountains.

There are dozens of hiking trails in the park and it can take a few days to explore the region if you plan on doing it by foot. If you’d like to enjoy the river, you should head to Rio Grande Village as well as the Boquillas Canyon Overlook as the views are fantastic, especially when the sun goes down. If you plan on spending a few days in the park you’ll find several options for RV and tent camping. You’re also allowed to backpack overnight in remote areas.

If you don’t like the idea of sleeping out under the stars you can try the Chisos Mountains Lodge, which offers six dozen rooms and half a dozen cottages to rent. If you plan on camping in the backcountry and going on long hikes you’ll need to obtain a permit. Make sure you take lots of water and be aware of drastic changes in temperature.

When you really feel like getting away from it all you can hike in the high country around the Chisos Mountains. It takes about three days to hike here and once you reach the thick forests at the top you’ll be able to look below to get an amazing view of the desert. If you’d like a water adventure you can try out the overnight raft trip that sails down the famous Rio Grande to the Santa Elena Canyon.

If you’re only in Big Bend Park for the day and want to see as much of it as possible, there are several scenic drives you can take, such as the Maxwell Scenic Drive. The scenery is astounding as it takes you close to the Mexican border.

There are plenty of activities to participate in and things to see in this tremendous national park. Sometimes you feel that a week’s worth of camping still isn’t long enough as the wonderful sights and sounds are endless.