Big Bend Series, Part II – The Fun Things

In Part I, I mentioned the dangers of the Big Bend Country, including a recounting of one of my experiences.  But now, I will talk about the enjoyable things to do while visiting the area.  Things like rafting, hiking, bird watching. etc.  Sit back and enjoy.

Rafting.  Rafting the Rio Grande is one of the fun experiences that Ann and I have indulged in.  While we’re not fans of the Class V White-water trips, we did go on several of the half-day float trips that the Far Flung Adventures people offered.  On that trip, we were carried by van upstream to the Grassy Meadows river access. 

Rafting the Rio Grande

There we put on life-jackets, and started our short journey back to Lajitas.  A guide accompanied us, of course, and naturally he done all the work.  We just sat back against the gunwhales of the raft and took in the magnificent mountain scenery.  I took the above photo from our raft.  We passed by occasional deer or javelina, and once we saw a crocodile.  Yes, that’s right.  Apparently, someone had a pet and decided to dispose of it into the Rio Grande.  It stayed there for a couple of years, but hasn’t been seen now for several months.  Speculation is that it probably died of lonelinest or old age.  Somewhere back in my archives I have a photo of it.  If I come across it, I’ll post it here.  I was shooting film then and it is probably amongst my many boxes of negatives.

There are many raft trips available, depending on your budget and/or your available time.  There are one-day trips through the lower canyons.  There are multiple-day trips through Santa Elena Canyon, including at least one that brings a chef with catered gourmet meals.  Candles included.

Hiking.  Trails abound in Big Bend National Park, some easy, some very difficult.  In Part I, I told you about the Grapevine Hills Trail.  Many trails are in the Chisos Mountains including the famous Window Trail.  It is one of the popular ones because of the scenic beauty. 

The Window at Sunset

The Window is a large V shaped opening in the western side of the Chisos.  It is down through that opening that all the rains drain out of the Chisos Basin.  It is about a two mile hike from the Basin parking lot that decends about 800 feet to the large slippery pouroff at the bottom.  It is about a 300 foot drop-off at that point.  The trouble with the hike is the strenuous climb back up the trail to the trailhead. 

Santa Elena Canyon

Another popular hike is the Lost Mine Trail that takes you in to the high country.  Then there is the trail to the South Rim, a very difficult, strenuous hike to the south part of the Chisos high country.  Awesome views of the Mexican Sierra Del Carman reward you when you get there, not to mention a 2000 foot drop off to the desert.

Mule Ears Peak

Birding.  There 450 species of birds that can be seen in the various birding areas in the park, depending on the time of year.   At Rio Grande Village RV park, on the east side of the park, is a good place for birding.  Also the Cottonwood Campground.  The Chisos Mountains is an area for the Mexican Jay.  That bird is indigenous only to the Chisos Mountains, as is the Colima WarblerPeregrine Falcons can be seen at Santa Elena Canyon.  On our recent trip, Ann and I found a nice place to watch birds at the old Sam Neal Ranch ruins.  While there we were over-run by a pack of six Javelinas.    It was while we were birding at Rio Grande Village campground that I came upon the Bobcat that I was able to photograph.


Besides the rafting, hiking, and birding that I mentioned, there also jeep trips, hore-back trips, all arranged by Far Flung Adventures.  The park also offers activities to feature tours about the various flora, and there star-gazing activities.  Big Bend National Park encompasses over 800,00 acres.  Although it is large in size, it is one of the least visited parks in the system.  It is estimated that on the busiest day of the year, there is 200 acres available per person.

More to come in coming days……………

Happy Birding!!

6 thoughts on “Big Bend Series, Part II – The Fun Things

  1. I agree with you, Cindy. I have been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was in the fall, and absolutely beautiful, but the traffic was bumper-to-bumper all through the park. No place to seek solitude. It’s hard to believe Big Bends claim of 200 acres per person. But when you’ve been there you can see the reality of it. It is a very harsh environment as I mentioned in Part I. I found that out pretty fast.

  2. I always think of crowds when I picture typical America. It’s wonderful to see these beautiful wide-open spaces. 200 acres per person – just about enough for me. 🙂

    • Yes, I had fun with that one. I wanted to place the other raft at the bottom of the picture, then I used a 300mm tele to give make the mountain appear larger and closer. Thanks for your kind words.


  3. Thanks, Toby,

    Sounds like you’re a little homesick. Can’t say as I blame you. I just can’t get enough of this great state, and I live in the middle of it.

    Actually, some of those experiences and photos are from some past trips.

    I’m having a blast writing this stuff. I don’t have any kind of plan or outline. I am just winging it. Writing by the seat of my pants, so to speak.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂


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