Saturday, February 25, 2017

Big bend Ranch State Park

 After five days of no hook-up camping in the national park (aka boondocking), the Maverick RV park near Lajitas with its full hook-ups, good WIFI, and cellular service was a welcome break.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is tothe west of the national park.  The only road through the park is well worth the 30 mile drive.  The views are awesome.

 The views are so good that scenes from many movies were shot at various places on the road.

 The remnants of the movie set remains for tourists.

After a couple days at the Lajitas park we traveled north toward El Paso.

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elaina Canyon

Santa Elaina canyon is one of the three slot canyons in Big Bend.  The thousand foot cliffs are truely spectacular. A trail leads into the mouth of the canyon and about a quarter mile in on the american side.

There are a lot of people who take kayak and canoe trips in the canyons.

 The cavity in the rock had the shape of a fish.

We had a picnic lunch after hiking the canyon trail.
The nearby visitor center was an army outpost early in the twentieth century.
 The mule ears.
 Don't touch! They'll stick you.
Volcanic ash.

Hikers on the mule ears trail.

 You can just make out the canyon entrance in the distance.
Finally sunset at the campground.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Big Bend National Park - Boquillas Village, Mexico

Anyone who spends much time eat Big Bend park usually makes the obligatory visit to Boquillas village.  Boquillas is a remote Mexican village just across the Rio Grand River on the eastern end of the park. The village has a population of about 300 and the nearest neighboring Mexican town is about 160 miles away. We visited the village on February 17th.
There is no bridge crossing the Rio Grande.  To visit the village you get a customs briefing by a border patrol agent at the US port of entry (a two room concrete building). A short walk down to the river from the port of entry brings you to a young man with a row boat.  Five dollars purchases a round trip ticket to the Mexico side of the river.
On the Mexico side you can choose to ride a burro to the village. We chose to walk the one half mile of dirt road.
Once in the village you must get your passport stamped by Mexican customs (housed in a couple of trailers). Passports must also be stamped for exit when you are ready to leave.

 We had lunch at one of the several cantinas that line the main street.  We also browsed the numerous individuals and shops hawking hand-made souvenirs.  Ina bought one of the walking sticks  which are made from the flowering stem of the harvard aguave (aka century plant). Other common souvenirs included emboidered fabric items and road runner & scorpion figures crafted from beads and twisted copper wire.

There is not really much to do in the village.  There are some "tours" that you can take of a local copper mine as well as a couple of hot springs.
 We chose to return to camp and enjoy another gorgeous sunset.

Big Bend National Park - The Chisos Basin

The Chisos basin is a central canyon area of the Chisos mountains.  The only US mountain range entirely contained within the borders of a national park.  The Chisos are in the center of Big Bend park  ranging in altitude up to 6000 feet.
In Big Bend we stayed at the Rio Grande Village campground which is located in the far southeast corner of the park.
From the Chisos Basin visitor center there are many trails leading southward from the basin.  The trails from the basin have the most spectacular vistas of any location in the park.  Unfortunately many of the best trails are probably beyond our hiking ability.  Trails to the south rim, for instance, are six miles or more and are rated moderate to difficult.  On the advice of a ranger we took the Lost Mine trail for about a mile and a half.

After about a mile of ascending a tree lined trail, we reached a notch where the trees cleared with a great view to the south. The weather allowed some really good photos.  During our 2013 visit, the weather remained cloudy for the entire time.

After our brief hike, we went on to the basin visitor center where we enjoyed a picnic lunch.
The basin itself is very picturesque with peaks surrounding the basin. Looking north the canyon opens with a view of the low desert in the distance.

Each day of our stay we tried to do some sort of hike.  In addition to the Chisos Basin we  visited Santa Elaina canyon and the Mexican village of Boquillas ( the subjects of two future postings).