Monday, May 2, 2016

Taking a Break from Big Bend National Park

Posted from Luling, TX
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

After a lengthy day of exploring Big Bend National Park on April 18th, we decided to change it up and visit a different attraction.

Western End Entrance Sign
Probably the second most visited attraction in this area is the Big Bend Ranch State Park. There are a multitude of things to do in this park including bicycling, hiking, horse back riding, canoeing and kayaking, off-road trail riding, or just using the main paved road to explore the length of the park.

We decided to take Highway 170 which is completely paved and runs through the park from Lajitas to Presidio approximately paralleling the Rio Grande River. From our campground in Lajitas, the eastern side entrance station is at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center only 1.5 miles away.

The Visitor's Center not only includes important maps and information on the park, but there is a nature trail adjacent to the center and a short trail leading up the hill to some nice views of the area.

After picking out a few short trails to explore we headed out.  Between the Visitor's Center and Lajitas we had passed an area where the "Mayor of Lajitas" was housed.  Since this looked like a photo op we had to make a stop.  Here is Clay Henry III (?) and his "first lady" posing for tourists' pictures all day.

The Mayor

There are several primitive campgrounds along the route, many with boat launching areas into the Rio Grande River.  Shaded tables are a must in this part of the country.  Although temperatures were very pleasant during our visit, summertime temps can get very hot. It's important to pick cooler parts of the day to hike as well.

The first hike of the day was into Closed Canyon. The canyon walls were tall and the space between them narrowed as we proceeded. The first part of the trail wasn't too hard to navigate.

A sign at the trailhead warned hikers about not exceeding their abilities to climb and scramble over some of the drops in the canyon.  I, being the most adventurous (or most stupid) decided to push on for a bit after my three co-hikers (Paul, Laura, and Karen) decided to play it safe.

Well........I hadn't traveled too much farther when I ran into a drop which I was pretty sure that I could handle getting down, but wasn't so sure about the return trip.  End result:  I stopped and turned around.

This was a great area to hike in and the views of the canyon are outstanding.  By the time we returned to the trailhead, it was time for lunch. (Do you see a daily pattern here?)  We lunched at the covered table at the trailhead.

A few pictures from the nearby areas of the park.

We continued north along Hwy. 170 and arrived at Fort Leaton, a Texas State Historic Site.  Not only is this an historic site to visit, but it also serves as the western entrance to Big Bend Ranch State Park. The fort's main function was to serve as a trading post from 1848-1884 along the old Chihuahua Trail. Many rooms of the old fort have been restored and are interesting to visit.

Here, Karen stands beside a large carreta in the corral area of the fort. When fully loaded these ox carts were pulled by 10-12 oxen.

Paul and Laura visiting one of the many restored rooms.

Since we were now near the western most end of the park, a short trip to the border crossing town of Presidio was in order.  Not to check out the crossing, but we all wanted soft serve ice cream and this was the closest place for many miles to find some.  We wound up locating no ice cream shops, but settled for some from a "gas and go" type of place.  Sorry, no pictures here, but the ice cream was pretty darn good.

Now sufficiently fueled up again, we began the long trek back to Lajitas thru the park (same route). One of the stops we made was at a trail named Hoodoos. These rock formations occur when wind and water erode the softer surfaces around the harder structures.

The Rio Grande River can be seen in the above picture just behind the hoodoo. Let's just say that I'm waving from another country (maybe?).

This was a long, but enjoyable day in the park.  We took a day off from any exploring tomorrow, but did go to dinner in a neat little restaurant.  Tune in to our next blog for more adventures in the Big Bend, Lajitas, Terlingua areas of Texas.

More pictures are available for viewing in our Google+ Photo Albums.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Leaving Casa Grande and Heading East (Slowly)

Posted from near Ingram, TX
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

We left our winter home at Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, AZ on April 15th.

We'll eventually be heading to the east coast and northeast for the summer months, but that's no reason not to slow down and visit some areas along the way.  We've been traveling with our friends Paul and Laura for the past two weeks and having a blast.

Paul suggested that he'd like to visit the Big Bend National Park area in southwest Texas, so we decided to tag along.  (Thanks guys for putting up with us!)

We both like to drive short days and miles, so we stopped at the SKP park in Deming, NM the first night, then at Desert Willow RV Park in Van Horn, TX the next night. Nothing special at either park, just nice places for an overnight stop.

Our Site
Our destination to visit the Big Bend National Park and area was Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, TX.  A nice park, probably the nicest in the area, and great for exploring the area. If you've never been to this area bring plenty of groceries as choices are limited and expensive. The area is beautiful, however.

Beside the pool
We visited the Lajitas Golf Resort (part of the RV park) across the highway.  I don't golf, but the course has beautiful surroundings.  The resort has a lodge, restaurant, bakery (great cinnamon buns), and other amenities.  Our RV park has a nice swimming pool with great natural views.

We explored the Big Bend National Park on three different days.  This is a very large park, so multi-day visits are a must.  We attempted to visit a different part of the park each time after first orienting ourselves and picking up valuable information at the Panther Junction Visitor's Center.

Lunch at Rio Grande Village Visitor's Center
Each day we packed a picnic lunch and ate at a different area within the park.  As already stated, the park is very large.  The first day we headed down toward the Rio Grande Village area and hiked along the Boquillas Canyon Trail.

Rio Grande and Mexico behind
At the overlook, Mexicans across the Rio Grande River have set up spots to sell their wares.  They are pretty trusting, because the cash container is unattended.

Boquillas Canyon
After a short trek up the trail we made it to the edge of the Rio Grande River.  Due to the steep canyon walls, the wind was really blowing in this area.

I wondered why the name Big Bend National Park. I learned that the park got its' name from the "big bend" the Rio Grande River makes in this area.

Hot Springs with Rio Grande behind
While in this area of the Park we decided to take in the Hot Springs near the Langford Ruins.  After a short trek, we dipped our toes into the remains of the springs. The temps were about 104 degrees, but very soothing after doing a bit of hiking.

So as not to make these next few blog posts too lengthy, I've decided to include a few pics around the Park, then split our adventures up into several future posts.

Boquillas border crossing gate

Petroglyphs along the Hot Springs Trail

To view many additional pictures for Big Bend National Park (Day 1) just click on this link to go to our Google+ Photo Album.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!