A Sneak Preview of Big Bend National Park

Leaving the Texas Canyons Behind

Before exiting Seminole Canyon State Park, we made a quick stop just up the road at awe-inspiring Pecos Canyon.  This canyon was formed by the Pecos River, which flows from the mountains of New Mexico for almost 1,000 miles through West Texas before dumping into the Rio Grande.   Folklore has it that the river is where the mythic wild west began, and was the stomping grounds of the legendary Judge Roy Bean – a Texas justice of the peace known as “The Law West of the Pecos”.

Pecos Canyon
High canyon walls dominate the final miles of the Pecos River before it enters the Rio Grande

The Pecos River High Bridge was completed in 1957.  Previous to this structure, several low-water bridges had been built between 1923 and 1954, only to be destroyed by floodwaters.  The new 1,310 ft. long Pecos River High Bridge towers 273 ft. above the river, making it the highest bridge in Texas.

Pecos River High Bridge
Pecos River High Bridge

Leaving Seminole Canyon SP, our 80-mile drive along US-90 to Marathon followed Texas flatlands void of trees, vegetation, mountains, people and pretty much everything else.  I was getting a bit bored, then started seeing mesa-topped mountain grasslands in the distance as we ascended some hills.  Topping a final crest, we both got excited as we saw real mountain ranges come into view – yay!

US 90S towards Marathon
Oh look, mountains ahead!

Pardon my exuberance, but we’ve had “mountain withdrawal” since before our arrival in Texas last November.  I could hardly contain myself as these beauties came into view. Beginning now, I can finally resume posting about new mountain adventures, and show the west Texas range in its various shapes and forms.


Discovering Big Bend

Marathon is considered the Gateway to Big Bend, and along with the rest of the region, it guarantees some of the darkest night skies in the continental U.S.  We made a quick stop at Marathon with the intention of seeing those dark skies.  Because of its remoteness, low population density (430 full-time residents), geographic location, and being surrounded by multiple mountains, Marathon has been blessed with the darkest skies in the lower 48 states.

Unfortunately, with a storm forecast to come through during our 2-night stay we knew we’d be disappointed.  At least we were able to drive into town to enjoy an excellent dinner at the historic Gage Hotel.  A bit pricey, but it was fun to check out such an interesting place in the middle of nowhere.

Gage Hotel

Getting Betsy back on the road, we were eager to begin our drive into Big Bend National Park.  Cruising along scenic HW-385, I snapped away at every mountain I saw – and there were a lot of them.  One of the most spectacular were the flatirons along East Bourland Mountain.  I learned that a flatiron is a short, triangular hogback which forms a ridge or spur on the flank of a mountain that looks like a flatiron.

Flat Iron Mountains

Our new home base was beyond the southwest side of Big Bend National Park, so we traversed through the park, entering via the north entrance and exiting out the west gate for our destination at the little town of Terlingua.  And it was quite a drive; Big Bend National Park encompasses over 800,000 acres, and we racked up almost 100 miles going through it just to get to our next stop!

Persimmon Gap
Persimmon Gap
Big Bend National Park
Mountain Bluebonnets in full bloom lined miles of the park’s road, the best bloom in many years according to the rangers

From here on I will let the pictures I snapped from Betsy’s passenger seat as we drove along speak for themselves.


Panther Junction
Our first stop in the park was at the Panther Junction visitor’s center


Chihuahuan Desert
Chihuahuan Desert scenery
Chisos Mountain
The Chisos Mountains were covered in fog the day we arrived


The variety of geology here continued to amaze us, and reminded us a lot of Death Valley




We finally arrived at our home base at BJ’s RV Park, which was located 20 miles outside the park’s west entrance.

Not much more than a parking lot, but we’ll explain why we liked it so much in our review

Considering that  Big Bend National Park is so massive, these photos are just a teaser of what’s to come…




  1. Teaser indeed…. look forward to your next post. That just may determine whether we add this to our travels next season 🙂

  2. Those Bluebonnets are so lovely!

    We hope to get to Big Bend next January, so we are eager to take this ride with you. Don’t let us hanging for too long. The photos so far are gorgeous!

  3. Your final photos did remind me of our drive as we entered Death Valley. I am glad to see some mountains in Texas. This might make it worth a stop on day:) The blue bonnets are just gorgeous. I guess they like rain and cold weather since that’s all that Texas seemed to have this winter. Good to see a little blue sky in a photo:) That bridge is really high!! Bridges don’t bother me but that photo did!

  4. Your opening picture of the Pecos is just stunning. Love your later ones that “speak for themselves” too. I’ve never been to Big Bend and am anxious to go along with you.

  5. I’ve been seeing pics of those Big Bend bluebonnets on Facebook and a few from personal friends who have been there recently. Just amazingly beautiful this year, for sure. Looking forward to reading more about your West Texas adventures!

  6. You will love the hiking at Big Bend! Be on the lookout for rattlers and mountain lions this time of year. I expect photos of “that warbler” from the big hike. Hope you guys do the river, too!

    We are having massive shows of Indian Paint Brush, Bluebonnets, and Evening Primrose here in East Texas. So glad you are getting a show too. Enjoy!!

  7. I’ve followed a few others who toured there, but yours is always champion. Can’t wait for more exciting views and dirt on the area. Breathtaking!

  8. Next time we’re spending time in TX we hope to get to Big Bend, thanks for the preview.

  9. I’m looking forward to exploring Big Bend with you — it’s been on our list for a long time, and I know you’re going to show us the best of it! Love the bluebonnets along the highway. That must be a sign of good things to come. 🙂

  10. We haven’t spent much time in Texas…looking forward to your posts on Big Bend. We just might have to add it to the list!

    I love taking pictures as we drive through new areas…beautiful country yiu captures MonaLisa.

    Hope you are feeling good….

  11. Looking forward to seeing Big Bend through your eyes. Although it is a long drive to get there, we really loved the park.

  12. True … Very Death Valley-esque… 😀 …with all those amazing looking hills, valleys and mountains. I enjoyed taking pictures when I was driving in DVNP. I’m sure I would love this too.

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