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Big Bend National Park :: Texas

At over 800,000 acres, Big Bend National Park is a must-see if you are camping in Texas.  It is one of the largest National Parks, and offers plenty of campsites to choose from.  It is also the only National Park to contain an entire mountain range, the Chisos mountains.  Since I live in the lush, green state of North Carolina, I found the beauty of this dry region of western Texas to be staggering.  The brown rocky mountains that surrounded us in the valley turned bright gold as the sun set in the evening.  It is vast, quiet, and private – a perfect place to explore after spending a week in Austin.

Our first campsite, La Clocha, overlooks the Rio Grande River.  Many of Big Bend’s  campsites consist of a dusty, rocky area that has been cleared of vegetation and lined with rocks.  Since most of the nearby plant life is low-growing shrubs, cacti, and small desert flowers, the only shade we has was from the truck.  The Rio Grande is merely a two-minute climb from La Clocha, which leads to Mexico on the opposite side of the bank.  We could even see Sierra del Carmen in Mexico.  The Mexican border!  I have heard so many gruesome stories about the Mexican border, and I found it to be one of the most peaceful places we have seen so far.  We’ll see how Tiajuana compares to the horror stories.

For all of you 4 wheeling enthusiasts, Big Bend offers many roads that are best driven with a high-clearance vehicle.  We drove across Black Gap, a dirt path that is an unmaintained road (while many of the roads are rocky, they are regularly maintained).  We were expecting Black Gap to be a bit more difficult – we only needed 4 wheel drive once, and the drive was much shorter than we were told (I will admit, however, that I got nervous at areas where the truck steeply tilted to one side).  These roads were a good “test run” for the truck since they are tricky to maneuver.

If you plan to stay at Big Bend, be ready for intense heat during the day and little shade to shelter you.  The evenings are a nice time to cool off, leaving you in a vast, picturesque plain without another soul in sight.

To learn more about Big Bend National Park, visit www.nps.gov/bibe or www.visitbigbend.com.

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