This year for President’s Day weekend, Jeb and I decided to go down to Texas to Big Bend National Park. This park is not near any other park, and really not on the way to anything… so we knew it was going to need its own short trip.
This is the second year in a row now that we have gone down to Texas for President’s weekend. It works out well because it is warm enough to camp in February in Texas, whereas it definitely wouldn’t be warm enough in Colorado.
We really didn’t know what to expect for this park. I don’t think I’ve even met anyone that has been here before.
The thing that makes this park famous (but maybe not the reason it is actually a national park) is that it is right along the Rio Grande River, and right along the Mexican border. The picture below is of the river. Although not as grand or beautiful as some, it was pretty neat to be standing here on the American side, looking over so close at the Mexican side.
In the national park you can actually take a “ferry” over to the mexican side and visit the remote small Mexican village that is located there. Since we didn’t have our passports we didn’t get over. Plus since my passport still says Fuentes… I was a little worried Trump wouldn’t let me back in the states. Kidding but only kinda…
We did a short hike down to the river and to the area where the river goes into the canyon. We also saw this Mexican donkey lol across the river. Kinda hard to see in the picture, but still cool to see!
People come over from the Mexican side illegally and leave these little like trinket souvenir things and try to get people to put money into a jar, which they come back over to retrieve. Despite the fact that this is illegal, we saw these items and the jars all over the park. Also in this area we even saw several Mexican guys sitting by a boat at the edge of the water, waiting to come back over and collect the money. The park brochure said that not only is it illegal for them to do this, it is also illegal for anyone on the American side to buy any of the stuff.
Our campsite was in the area near the river. We decided to camp down by the river because it would be much warmer at night (at a lower elevation) than camping in the mountains district of the park.
This is looking at one of the shacks on the mexican side, and in the right corner of the picture you can see one of their boars
We did another short hike to an overlook of the park, it was close to sunset at this point. We really didn’t think it was going to be a great sunset that night, but we were wrong!
One really awesome thing about this park (that I don’t have any pictures of), is that there is a hot springs along the river. It is semi developed and semi primitive. It was free (with the park admission) to go to and even open at night! Jeb and I did the half a mile hike out to it at night and went in the 105 degree water. It was so pretty sitting in this natural hot springs, with the stars really bright that night, and listening to the sounds of the river. Considering hot springs in Colorado are often $25 a person or more, we loved this!
The other really cool experience we had at Big Bend (that we also don’t have pictures of), is that we finally saw Javelinas! Despite numerous trips to Arizona we still had not seen one yet. We were lucky enough to see a whole bunch of them by the road at one point. But unfortunately a car drove by and scared them all away before I could get my camera out. 🙁
You can see some sand dunes in the picture below.
I was surprised by how narrow the river is in this area. At certain points in the year the water level is low enough that you can just walk across it.
Starting to be a pretty sunset!
My favorite picture of the park (photo credits to Jeb for this one)!
As we were driving to the hot springs we saw the colors in the sunset getting really pretty, so we pulled over and literally ran up this hill to not miss it!
I took way too many pictures but here are a few of my favorite sunset ones!
The next day we packed up camp and headed over to the mountain area of the park, the Chisos Mountains.
We had camped by the river at 1,800 feet. The campgrounds at the base of the Chisos mountains was already at 5,400 feet – so a lot colder!
We decided to hike Emory peak (of course, because it is the tallest mountain in the Chisos). The summit is at 7,800 feet, and the hike had 2,500 feet of gain. This is a pretty serious hike for in Texas!
Unfortunately it was cloudy, cold, and rainy for most of our hike. The views were still amazing, but the weather did not really allow for pictures to capture this.
Jeb and I were pleasantly surprised because we had a fantastic time at Big Bend National Park. We really enjoyed this lesser known park! We have now been to 26 of the 59 national parks in the United States.