March 8, 2012

Blown Away in Big Bend

We awoke in Marathon, Texas, to an incredibly windy day, with reduced visibility from blowing dust.  But we were on a mission to visit Big Bend National Park.  You really have to want to go to Big Bend.  It’s not on the way to anywhere, and the closest regional airport is more than 200 miles away.  But we did want to go, and we arrived at the park well before noon.  The visibility improved as we drove south, and I was looking forward to seeing the grand vistas, as well as the smaller vignettes. 

On the Way to Big Bend
The mountains and desert opened up to us as we entered the park through Persimmon Gap.  The park is really three distinct entities – the desert, the mountains and the river.  We first made our way through the desert, which is a part of the Chihuahuan Desert, most of which is in Mexico.  The Chihuahuan is one of four deserts in North America.  The others are the Great Basin, Mojave and Sonoran.  We will likely visit at least two of them on this trip.

After a stop for a short walk to view an exhibit on fossil bones that have been found in Big Bend, we stopped at the visitor center for maps and my passport stamp.  We planned to spend the day in the Chisos Mountains where we had campground reservations for the next two nights.  The drive up the mountain is steep and the turns are sharp, and the road is not recommended for RVs over 24-feet in length.  We were just fine, however, and the RV seemed to climb with ease.  The mountains are rugged, and really beautiful.  As we climbed, we passed from the desert into the woodland community where we began to see trees.

The Desert Is Vast Here
Fossil Country
The Ocotillo Are Blooming
Tim in the Desert
It's a Different World Here
As we approached Panther Pass, the entire Chisos Basin appeared before us. What a beautiful sight! Unfortunately, the blowing dust was beginning to interfere with the visibility, and we were barely able to see the view through the Window, the low point within the Basin. We stopped for lunch at Chisos Mountains Lodge and then made our way to our campsite. On the way I saw my first roadrunner as he scurried across the road, but alas, my camera was not at hand.

Approaching Chisos Basin
Chisos Basin - Our Campground Is in the Center of the Photo
The wind had really picked up and it was starting to get chilly – quite a change from the 85° temperatures at the visitor center.  We changed campsites several times, trying to find one that was level.  All the while, the RV was shaking in the wind.  We finally settled in, but the wind and the dropping temperatures made it too unpleasant to spend any time outside.  Kitty couldn’t even be enticed to venture out for a walk.  The people in tents were also hiding.  It’s predicted to drop to the low 30s tonight!  Brrrr.

The Chisos Mountains
Casa Grande at Sunset
We’re hoping for calmer weather tomorrow so we can get out, hike and explore the park.  I would hate the wind to be my most vivid memory from Big Bend.


  1. What a landscape!! Beautiful pictures Sarah. I guess everything is big in Texas, including the wind! LV

    1. LV, Thank you. Yes, everything is BIG here, and it is gorgeous. Sarah