Big Bend– Castolon & Santa Elena Canyon

The trip from Panther Junction to Castolon and Santa Elena Canyon highlights the geologic splendor Big Bend is famous for, and offers many scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. Whenever we saw “Exhibit Ahead” signs I would have Juan pull over so we could take a picture and learn more about that location.

Our first “Exhibit Ahead” stop was Sotol Vista Overlook. From this viewpoint perched high above the desert floor we had an unparalleled vista of the entire western side of Big Bend National Park, including magnificent Santa Elena Canyon in the distance.

We continued on this scenic drive to the Castolon Historic District. Established as a cavalry camp in the early Twentieth Century, Castolon later served as the headquarters of the La Harmonia Company. We stopped at the visitors center before continuing on to Santa Elena Canyon.

The Rio Grande has sliced a 1,500-foot vertical chasm out of pure limestone to form one of the most magnificent canyons in the park. As you look down Santa Elena Canyon, the left wall of the canyon is in Mexico, while the right wall is in Texas. A fabulous trail follows the river upstream then drops down to the canyon floor. We saw a group putting in their rafts to take a float trip through the canyon.

Tanya Denise Tucker (born October 10, 1958, in Seminole, Texas) is an American country music artist who had her first hit, “Delta Dawn”, in 1972 at the age of 13. Over the succeeding decades, Tucker became one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience, and during the course of her career, she notched a streak of top-10 and top-40 hits.

 

Big Bend–Down to Boquillas Canyon

Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village

The drive to Rio Grande Village traverses ancient limestone and has marvelous vistas across the river to the magnificent Sierra del Carmen escarpment. In twenty miles, the road descends nearly two thousand feet.

There are several worthwhile stops and highlights along the way. We saw several examples of rock layers and cactus.

Just across the Rio Grande is the Mexican town of Boquillas. Boquillas Canyon is one of Big Bend’s most scenic spots. The Rio Grande Village Nature Trail is an excellent birding location; it crosses a wetland spring with a viewing platform then gradually climbs to a promontory with excellent panoramic views.

At days end we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the Sierra del Carmen mountains.

Juan Raul Davis “Johnny” Rodriguez (born December 10, 1951 in Sabinal, Texas) is an American country music singer. He is a Latin American country music singer, infusing his music with Latin sounds, and even singing verses of songs in Spanish.

 

Big Bend–Desert Mountain Vistas

Big Bend National Park

Over four days we took in six different scenic drives within the park. Our routine was simple: 1) Head to the nearest gas station to fill up the van, 2) fill up our coffee mugs and eat a quick taco. 3) stock up on water and snacks, and 4) drive 96 miles from our hotel to park headquarters.

From our hotel in Alpine we went through Marathon. It doesn’t have grocery carts, fresh produce or even a parking lot, but Marathon, Texas, — population 430 — has a Target. Sort of. A small white building surrounded by dead grass between Alpine and Marathon sports the
store’s red bulls-eye logo next to the word “Target.”

One of the scenic drives, Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction, we took every day. 28 miles from park entrance to park headquarters. The Rosillos Mountains rise to the west; to the east the Dead Horse Mountains dominate the skyline.

The Big Bend is located at the northern end of the Chihuahuan desert. Most of the Chihuahuan desert is located in Mexico. Because Big Bend National Park is part of the U.S. National Park System, it represents the largest protected portion of the Chihuahuan desert in the United States.

Plants and Animals

The desert is the largest ecosystem in the park. Because of high daytime temperatures, animals found in the park typically remain underground during the day. We saw many different creatures. Most noteworthy were javelinas, roadrunners, jackrabbits, snakes, millipedes, and mule deer.

The most familiar desert plants in the Chihuahuan desert are lechuguilla, sotol, numerous species of cactus, mesquite, and yuccas.

Highlights included a visit to the Fossil Bone Exhibit where we learned about dinosaur fossils found within the park. Paleontologists have found fossils of bravoceratops, a dinosaur only found in Big Bend.

Lyle Pearce Lovett (born November 1, 1957) is an American country singer-songwriter and actor. Active since 1980, he has recorded thirteen albums and released 25 singles to date.