The Big Bend Area Of Texas
Part II –– Continued
US Hwy. 90 leads to Marathon, Texas, the site of an old hotel bed and breakfast along the railroad, and US 385 leads south from Marathon into the park at Panther Junction. You can also take scenic Texas Hwy. 118 south out of Alpine, Texas to Terlingua, later joining Texas Hwy. 170 to the south.
If you are short on time, I strongly recommend two stops in the Park: Langford Hot Springs previously mentioned. The other ‘no miss’ spot is Chisos Basin. This area contains lodging and stone cabins from the old CC camp built during 1932.
Reservations are urged, even for the Campground.
The Chisos Mountains surrounding the basin (5400-ft. el.) go all the way up to Emery Peak (7875-ft. el.). The Chisos Mountains are generally considered the southern tip of the great Rocky Mountains in the US.
Here there are tremendous hiking trails: to the pour-over at the Window, the Lost Mine Trail, the Chisos Rim trail, and Emery Peak trail. Carry your own water since there are no reliable springs available on most of these trails. But you will be rewarded with some of the best vistas in the USA.
When I try to describe Big Bend to someone unaware of its splendor, I always say: “Think of the Grand Canyon, but on a smaller yet just as beautiful locale.”
Note: Big Bend is a great place for bird-watching or just auto touring. Be sure and have good rubber on your auto and a full tank of fuel and plenty of film and battery power.
I like to visit Big Bend in November or especially in February. Why February? Because by then the thrill of winter is gone, and I am ready to warm my old joints. Also if there has been any rain recently, Texas bluebonnets, Century cactus and many other cactus are beautifully flowering. Along the river in mid-February you can expect 70-75 degrees during daytime, and 30-40 degrees at night. Perfect camping and touring weather!
And as I was writing this article, even though I used to do some guiding on the Rio Grande in the Big Bend during the seventies, I realized that for some curious reason, I haven’t visited Big Bend for 19 years. Therefore, be sure and call ahead for your various stops, unfortunately you can’t rely on my personal knowledge as it is dated.
One other thing. NEVER leave your riverside camp unguarded and never leave your vehicle even if it is locked, for long periods of time when close to the Rio or in some remote parking spot. This is an unfortunate fact of life for the Big Bend. Remember this is extremely remote countryside and occasionally banditos travel through the area especially along the border, where there is very little presence of law enforcement.
When I did a lot of traveling in Big Bend, I soon realized that everything that I had loaded into my crammed Suburban vehicle was valued more than most of our poor neighbors across the river in a different third-world country would ever possess.
Now, get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!