I thought we were “deep in the heart of Texas” until we got to Big Bend National Park – a place that is as far south as you can go in the American west. The park borders Mexico for over 100 miles on the Rio Grande.
This park is one of the larger National Parks, but receives far fewer visitors than other parks (it ranks 147th!) due to its remote location. There are no airports or even interstate highways nearby. Most of the visitors who venture to BBNP do so during the late fall and early spring, when the weather is most pleasant. Summer temperatures can be brutal, so several of the visitors centers and campground are closed during the summer.
We stayed in the Chisos Basin, which is right in the middle of the park at about 5000 feet elevation. The campground was a bargain at only $14 per night. The elevation allowed for cool temperatures (mid 80s during the day and 60s at night), but some CRAZY winds and pop-up storms. Our tent really took a beating, as it tends to catch the wind pretty easily. The wind and threat of wildlife kept me up at night – either we would blow away or be eaten by a bear!
We camped next to a retired teacher and her husband and son, who stayed up playing guitar into the night. Camping (and travel, really) can be about the relationships you form along the way. Albeit brief, Christy and her crew made for a memorable meeting and some interesting conversation. The struggles of teaching are universal!
We spent an evening exploring the backroads of the park. There seemed to be tons of gravel roads that led into the far reaches of the park. I was hoping to spot a javelina or two, but all we spotted was lots of roadrunners, jackrabbits, and an impressively huge spider.
After we left Big Bend, we headed due north to the hip, weird town of Marfa – more on that later!