Going rough in Big Bend
Big Bend National Park preserves more than 1,100 square miles of rugged desert, three massive canyons of the Rio Grande and the entire Chisos Mountain range. Like its name suggests, Big Bend is a deep curve in the Rio Grande that joins the United States and Mexico. Unlike the Grand Canyon it sees a small fraction of the visitors that go there. Which means it is easier for the visitor to imagine they are in a great wilderness. Because they are. You aren’t exactly close to any bustling metropolis so you are unlikely to stumble upon it. You have got to want to go there.
The attraction to visitors would seem pretty obvious. Hiking, riding, canoeing, water rafting and touring in SUV’s or jeeps are the obvious attractions but did you know for example that there are natural hot springs here with water heated to 41 degrees celsius.
Panoramic views, interrupted only by ranges of desert mountains, are the hallmark of the Big Bend, and there is no better way to experience these views than to hike the extensive trail system found in the Chisos. When you reach the rim of the Chisos, (it’s a bit of a climb and not recommended for the unfit) the views are staggering. The mountains end abruptly in sheer cliffs dropping to the rugged foothills 2,500 feet below. On a clear day, a hiker can see over 150 miles across West Texas and past a remote mountain ranges that are deep inside Mexico.
The average visitor sends just two hours in the Grand Canyon. In Big Bend visitors spend days or weeks. Here you have hundreds of miles of the Rio Grande to explore with plenty of viewing points and facilities but not enough to forget that the place can be inhospitable to the unprepared.
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