The Chisos Mountains are a mountain range located in the Big Bend that is contained entirely within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park. This is the only mountain range in the United States to be fully contained within the boundary of a national park. It is also the southernmost mountain range in the mainland United States.
The Chisos Mountains support vegetation that includes Douglas fir, Aspen, Arizona cypress, Maple, Ponderosa pine, and Madrone. Mountain lions and bears live in the Chisos Basin as well as dozens of species of birds.
Daytime highs in the summer rarely exceed 90 in the Basin and there is plenty of shade. The day we went to the Chisos Mountains was the only day I wore jeans and I was glad I did.
That night when we got back to our hotel in Alpine we were greeted with a spectacular lightning storm. It was a weird watching all this lightning without any rain or thunder.
“Wide Open Spaces” is a song written by Susan Gibson, and recorded by American country music group Dixie Chicks. The Dixie Chicks are an American country music band which has also crossed over into other genres, including pop and alternative country. The band is composed of founding members (and sisters) Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines.
The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is named for Big Bend National Park’s first superintendent and geologist who served from 1944-1952. He laid out the route to highlight the more spectacular geologic features on the west side of the park. The road heads between Burro Mesa and Chisos Mountains.
A plethora of scenic views rewarded us on our return. Burro Mesa is a gently westward-sloping mesa standing high above the surrounding desert floor. At its highest point the mesa reaches an elevation of 4,431 feet above sea level. Its name derives from the many wild burros that once wandered and grazed there.
Tuff Canyon was carved out of soft volcanic tuff (compressed ash). Other rock formations in the area were made from igneous rock. Clear evidence that volcanoes helped shape Big Bend.
Blue Creek Ranch Overlook
This overlooks provides a view of the headquarters of the Homer Wilson Ranch, one of the largest in the region prior to the
establishment of the park.
Mule Ears Viewpoint
We stopped at Mule Ears Viewpoint, a beautiful viewpoint along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. From the parking area, the Mule Ears Peaks dominate the view. A 2-mile long trail leads to
a delightful desert spring.
Back to Alpine
Despite the threat of thunderstorms we had nothing but clear blue skies today. Returning to our hotel in Alpine a few cumulus clouds appeared and we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the mountains. It was a glorious finish to a beautiful day.
Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country trauma, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound.
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.