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Big Bend National Park, Part 1

January 12, 2012

It’s really hard for me to organize my thoughts about Big Bend National Park. Like a lot of trips, this one had so much packed into just a few days that it’s difficult to say ‘here’s what we did, the end.’ Just the landscape itself of Big Bend — vast, massive, endless — is nearly impossible to describe.

You may not have heard of Big Bend, and it’s definitely far from where you live, but it’s well worth a visit. As several people described it, Big Bend may be one of America’s largest and least visited national parks, but it’s special because people only go there if they intend to. You don’t stumble onto Big Bend on your way somewhere else — it took us two flights and 4 hours to driving to get to the park from Washington.

People who visit want to visit, and that makes a difference.

Big Bend National Park is tucked into southwest Texas, 800,000 acres of desert, mountains and river. There’s no fancy spa for weary travelers and no air-conditioned bus tours — you visit Big Bend to hike.

On day 1, we did the park’s most well-known hike, the Window Trail, with a detour onto the Oak Spring trail for a nice 9 miles before lunch.

The trail provides Big Bend’s most famous view, a narrow crack through a rock with the vast landscape beyond. Truthfully, I have a (minor) fear of heights and couldn’t get too close to the edge of the sheer cliff, but my sister and dad scooted closer for the best view.

In DC, I can barely see more than a few blocks at a single glance. At Big Bend (and a lot of south Texas), miles and miles and miles of land stretch before you.

Another must-do Big Bend hike: the Lost Mine Trail. Winding along a mountain rumored by the Spanish to contain silver — although geologists now debunk that theory — the hike itself is fine but the view is extraordinary.

If seeing how beautiful America is doesn’t make you patriotic, I don’t know what will.

Getting away from the mountains and into the desert — of which there is plenty — the Mule Ears Spring Trail is easy but a nice change of pace.

See? — mule ears!

Since it’s considered the off-season right now, the park was fairly deserted and we had a lot of hiking trails to ourselves, passing just one or two other groups along the way. Standing still, the quiet of the park was overwhelming, but plenty of signs remained that previous visitors had passed through.

Tomorrow in Part 2: the Rio Grande, a Mexican cowboy, a ghost town and… snow?!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2012 8:35 am

    What a beautiful place!!

  2. Life's a Bowl permalink
    January 12, 2012 11:35 am

    Breathtakingly beautiful… Truly getting in touch with nature!

    • January 12, 2012 12:21 pm

      One of the most beautiful places I never knew existed!

  3. January 12, 2012 4:16 pm

    Wow these are gorgeous pictures! It looks like you had an amazing time! i’m excited to see the pictures from the rest of your trip!

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  1. Big Bend National Park, Part 2 « Travel Eat Repeat

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