Our son, Andy, got us a great Christmas gift this past December -- an annual pass into US National Parks. But until this week, we hadn’t yet used it. We were going to use it on the Texas Gulf Coast at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but we found the whooping cranes we were looking for before we ever got there. So we used it for the first time at Big Bend National Park. The cheapest alternative they offered at the gate was a one-week pass at $20. So yay; we started saving.
Big Bend National Park is huge. It is larger than the State of Rhode Island. And why is it called Big Bend? Well, it is bounded on its southern boundary with a big bend in the Rio Grande River. Immediately after entering the park, we made our first mistake. The first major sight we wanted to see was the Santa Elena Canyon. The shortest route included 13 miles of “improved gravel road” , while the all-paved route was over 60 miles. Suffice it to say we won’t be taking that route again. We had enough ground clearance, but this road was a washboard. We thought we were going to shake the car apart.
Santa Elena canyon was well worth the vibration. It is the picture post card view of Big Bend. It is amazing how that canyon was ever carved by the river in this photo – one you could easily wade through to Mexico right there on the other side. But there is not need to build a border fence here. The territory on both sides is so inhospitable that no one would want to try to pass through here.
But the thing that amazed us most was how abloom the desert is right now. It must be because it is Spring time as there hasn’t been any rain here this year.