Big Bend NP, TX

Given that this park is located in a desert, I was pretty confident that the weather will be nice and warm. Well, we were in for a surprise. It poured nonstop the entire first day we were in the park. All the dirt roads became inaccessible to us because of our clown rental car (i.e. Fiat 500), but on the positive side, we witnessed one of the rarest phenomena for that area. The desert was green and blooming.

Purple desert

Purple desert

Ocotillo plant

Ocotillo plant

Blooming desert

Blooming desert

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There are a few amazing hikes in this park:
– Hot Springs trail. No other place offers you a natural hot spring on the shore of Rio Grande with a view to Mexico at the end of a very short hike. The trail was super muddy and the rain was pouring, but it was all worth it in the end.

Abandoned hot spring tub

Abandoned hot spring tub

Soaking in warm water while rain is pouring. You can see Mexico across the river.

Soaking in warm water while rain is pouring. You can see Mexico across the river.

– Santa Elena Canyon trail. We got there 45 min before sunset and there were only a couple cars in the parking lot. The rain finally stopped. There was a small stream that’s typically passable in the dry season, however it was bigger then. We noticed a pathway a little further away that was leading to a section of the stream that looked pretty narrow. So we took that route, got on the other side of the stream and carefully maneuvered through the narrow, muddy and slippery trail holding on to trees as we were sliding by the edge of the cliff.

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Finally, after reaching the spot where the trail was supposed to begin, it was up the cliff on a paved trail and then slow descent to the river. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the park, but because nobody was there, it made this hike one the most unique experiences. Only on the way back we met the guys whose cars were in the parking lot. One of them was wearing a cowboy hat and made for a perfect silhouette against the setting sun.

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Rio Grande flowing through the canyon

Rio Grande flowing through the canyon

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I was not expecting a glorious sunset given the cloud cover which seemed pretty settled in, however the sky turned red on the way back from the hike. It was amazing! We quickly rushed back to the car. Certainly didn’t want to get stuck in that mud in the dark. We stopped at El Dorado Hotel in Terlingua for the night.

Spent one night in this retro-looking place

Spent one night in this retro-looking place

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– Boquillas Canyon trail. I bet in better weather conditions, this hike is also nice. It was extremely windy and very muddy to get there.
Mexicans cross the river, leave these hand made souvenirs and ask for donations. NPS has announcements everywhere saying that it’s illegal to take or give money for these knick knacks.

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Super windy, wet and muddy

Super windy, wet and muddy

– Big Bend State Park (BBSP). On the way back to El Paso we drove through BBSP, adjacent to the national park. It’s a nice drive along the river. We stopped to do a short hike to the Closed Canyon, which was described as an easy stroll through a canyon slot. A few yards after we entered the canyon, a big puddle of water, prevented our passage further into the canyon. The walls around were too slippery to climb, the puddle was too long to jump, the water looked too deep to walk in, so what do we do? We use all the rocks lying around and build some steps! That was a good 20 min exercise. After we passed the water we walked for another half a mile or so. The trail was going down and the changes between levels were becoming increasingly difficult to handle. We gave up when we got to another much bigger pool of water. It was a fun hike and a good workout.

Hiking the Closed Canyon

Hiking the Closed Canyon

Makeshift bridge

Makeshift bridge

We stopped at Fort Leaton in BBSP to explore this adobe-style historic building.

Fort Leaton State Historic Site

Fort Leaton State Historic Site

Fort Leaton State Historic Site

Fort Leaton State Historic Site

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Found a Prada “store” (it’s an art installation) on the way to El Paso.

Prada

Prada “store” in the middle of absolutely nowhere (Marfa). It features a collection from 2005.

We ended the night with some Mexican food in El Paso. We had an early flight the next day to the next park.

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