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.
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.
The area around Marfa is known as a cultural center for contemporary artists and artisans. In recent years, a new wave of artists has moved to Marfa to live and work. As a result, new gallery spaces have opened in the downtown area. The first day we went to Marfa most of the museums were closed. We went to the
recently restored Presidio County courthouse and saw some spectacular West Texas architecture. We also went to the historic El Presidio hotel. Here is some interesting trivia from the hotel’s website regarding its history.
June 1955—Warner Brothers comes to Marfa and makes the Hotel Paisano its headquarters for the filming of the soon to be classic movie GIANT. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean plus 150 other cast members and crew make the Hotel Paisano their gathering place for six weeks of the summer. After the first two weeks of their visit, the three main stars move to private residences in Marfa. However, they all continue to dine at the hotel, socialize in the lobby and lounge area, and meet to watch dailies from a projector that director George Stevens sets up in the ballroom.
The middle of the West Texas desert isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a fully stocked Prada store. But stop a few miles outside of the tiny town of Valentine, Texas (population 125) and you’ll find just that: A Prada store that is never open for business.
The brainchild of Berlin-based artistic team Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa was meant to be a “pop architectural land art project.” Built of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, the building is meant to slowly melt back into the Earth, serving as a surrealist commentary on Western materialism. Interesting, then, that Miuccia Prada herself was consulted on the project, handpicking the merchandise for the store’s interior and allowing Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada logo. Costing a sum total of $80,000 – or, put another way, about 40 Prada handbags. Prada Marfa’s grand opening occurred on October 1st, 2005, and the perplexed press spread the news all across the country.
Later that evening we went to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area and did see numerous lights. After sunset the typical West Texas weather kicked in. Shorts and short sleeve shirts were no match for the much cooler temperatures and heavy winds.
The next day we returned to Marfa to visit the museums that were closed on Tuesday. Sadly, two of five were closed and the other three were not handicap accessible.
Marfa After Dark is a live album by Texas-based Folk singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. The album was recorded live at the Marfa Ballroom in Marfa, Texas in January 2008.