Saturday, March 3, 2012

Notes and photos of Big Bend

Chisos Mountains greeted us
Vast desert plains with high mountains in the distance greet us as we enter the park .  While not the majesty of a Mt Rainier, the Chisos mountains stand tall amidst the rolling barren hills.  We are used to forests in the far west so this is more like Nevada deserts yet much different.

The first full day in Big Bend National Park, it was really cold and windy so we drove from one end of the park to the other. About 65 miles one way.

Chisos Mountains at Sunrise

Sunset near Rio Grande Village
A nearby nature trail near the Rio Grande river offered some interesting birding and a beautiful sunset.

Big Bend is a fascinating place.  Designated a national park in 1944 not just to preserve a wilderness, rather to blend cultural, historical and wilderness areas together.

Old Steam Engine in Castolon
As we travel around the park, we see remnants of old towns, long abandoned indigenous encampments, settlements, agriculture amidst wild and desolate areas.

Purple Prickly Pear Cactus
Over 20 species of cactus grow in the park.  No Sonoran desert yet Ocatillo and Prickly Pear abound.  Apparently the area receives an average of over 15 inches of annual rainfall, mostly in summer months, however a 19 month drought was finally broken last week with over one inch of rain over several days.  We can see the dried up muddy tracks where vehicles roamed through the dirt roads.

Big Bend Lupine

This rain enabled many wildflowers to sprout up.  We saw these near Panther Junction, the main park headquarters,  about 20 miles drive from our camp at Rio Grande village.  I laid down on the highway to take this photo while Sraddha stood guard.  Not many people visit the park due to its remote location, therefore not much traffic.  I was grateful.

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