Every summer, my family and I take a long road trip somewhere. Last year we visited Big Bend National Park in Texas. The park is located in southwestern Texas where the Rio Grande makes a huge curve bend which was how the park got its name, “Big Bend”. It is so vast and occupies about 800,000 acres of terrain and strange looking mountains and canyons that reminded me of old Clint Eastwood movies. Sometimes Big Bend is referred to as three parks in one as it includes mountain, desert and river environment.
We started to drive from Plano, Texas very early in the morning (Spring 2008) and drove along Highway 20 passing Abilene, Big Spring, Midland and finally in the evening to Monahans for an over night stay. The drive was boring and there was nothing to see as it was only the highway and lonely desert road. Every so often we came across America’s most favorite food places on the road! The following day, early in the morning we started out the journey taking Highway 18 South and reached Fort Stockton around mid morning. Fort Stockton is the only town you will hit before Big Bend country so we bought sandwiches, water, juice and other snacks and filled our cooler. From Fort Stockton, Highway 385 South will lead into Big Bend National Park. I found that the most interesting part of the drive was along 385 as we saw flora and fauna changes to desert type of plants such as cactus. There were various different types of shrubs you will see but most of all, the Creosote bushes were very noticeable. It seems that these shrubs are so spaced out, it’s as if someone planted them by measuring the distance between each shrub. My research later indicated that the reason that these are regularly spaced out because they produce a toxin in the leaves and it discourages other plants intruding its space. We have also seen various reptiles, insects, and birds such as huge vultures that are flying around, some, dangerous looking and fighting for food with each other.
We ate sandwiches on the road, and just after lunch time we arrived at the park entrance. Our final destination at the park was Chisos Mountains Lodge. The drive to the lodge was amazing as you will see natural wonders ranging from strange shaped mountains, rocks and plants to spectacular canyons. When the sun goes down in the evening the scenery was so breath taking you wouldn’t believe your eyes. Half of the tall mountains were covered with sun while the other half was dark as it felt like we were in two different places at the same time. Dinner time that night at the lodge was delicious, after driving a long way through the mountains we were glad to sit down and have a nice home-style meal. We saw a snake slithering just outside our room and the children were frightened until we left the place in the following day.
The following day we drove through both the West and East ends of the park. We went to see the Rio Grande River that divides Mexico and US. The river is a very nice place if you enjoy canoeing. Since many people go there to canoe, you need to book the trip in advance. Overall, the trip was a great experience for us, as we love the nature. If you are planning to explore the park, Chisos Mountain Lodge is the best place to stay since it is located inside the park. Traveling in mid-summer to Big Bend Park is not a good idea because it will be very hot. Early or mid-spring would be the best time to visit Big Bend National Park.
In order to truly enjoy the park, you will need to hike and blend with the environment. As you go into the landscape, smell the shrubs, touch them, feel them, listen carefully to the strange silence and look around at the curvy shaped tall mountains and all of a sudden you may start to wonder why you haven’t been to such a special place! Take your family and give them an exciting experience that they will never forget…
Big Bend National Park Video: