Bigger than the state of Delaware, Big Bend encompasses three distinct ecological systems – desert, river, and mountains.
Volcanoes shaped this landscape hundreds of millions of years ago.

This has been an amazing experience in Big Bend National Park with a three night stay at Stillwell Store & RV Park off of TX FM 2627 outside the park to the north in southern Texas. We loved the vast expanses around our campsite, our taciturn host, our shore power hookup, and incredible starry skies. Over the course of three days we visited three of the four Visitors Centers, absorbed valuable information from the park video at Panther Junction, participated in ranger talks, immersed ourselves in the beauty and natural history of the desert, the mountains, and the river – the three major ecosystems found inside the park boundaries, and learned so much about the geology, the flora, and the fauna here. We saw roadrunners and javelinas, visited with a fellow T@B camper, picnicked at the historic Daniels Ranch along the Rio Grande River and gazed over into Mexico. We admired the Mexican craft items left for sale on the honor system but heeded the NPS admonition to not purchase any in this manner. We gazed out over the desert landscape from a bluff above the fossil beds and stared gape-jawed at the remains and reconstructions of absolutely huge animals who once swam, walked, and flew here. We made our way past a historic resort to some thermal hot springs along the river one day then the next day we were up in the Chisos Mountains dining at the soon to be renovated Chisos Mountain Lodge. We didn’t get to see it all this trip, we always need to save something for next time and the time after. Actually this was a next time. Our first trip was an overnight in the Chisos Campground in August 1974 that involved a floorless canvas tent, air mattresses, a flash flood, a visit to Santa Eleña Canyon, some sticky mud and a ruined set of binoculars. Despite the misadventures we we incredibly impressed and vowed to come back. And we intend to return yet again.

At the center of the park, Panther Junction is a great starting point for a visit to Big Bend and is the location for many of the ranger talks.
The desert captivated us as we drove south into the park.
A bluff above the Fossil Discovery site is a great place from which to survey the desert.
Paleontologists have uncovered the remains of gigantic animals that inhabited the land and sea in this area.

Wouldn’t want hang out with this creature in close quarters!
Perhaps the largest ever flying dinosaur!
Picnic along the Rio Grande at Daniels Ranch
Hot springs at the edge of the Rio Grande River.
Sandstone is evidence that this area was at the bottom of a sea in the very distant past.
A ranger talk helped orient us to the geology we were seeing.
Lunch at the soon to be renovated Chisos Mountain Lodge was a treat.
A view from Chisos Mountain Lodge
Along the Window View Trail in the Chisos Mountains.
Roadrunners are a treat to watch, and rarely pose for photographs.
Javalinas are similar to pigs in appearance but are exceedingly well adapted for desert survival.
Stillwell Store and RV Park is part of the storied history of Stillwell Ranch north of Big Bend National Park
With few neighbors and very little artificial light our campsite offered a spectacular view of the night sky.
Our second trip to Big Bend in 49 years was a wonderful adventure.

We’re looking forward to returning to this amazing park located in the big bend of the Rio Grande River in southern Texas.

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Collins

    Lovely report! Thank you!

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