Scenes from the Big Bend

In the photos for this post, I wasn’t going after asthetically perfection.  These are just a few images from the area that I thought you would enjoy.  They are snap shots of a desolate, remote part of TexasTerlingua Ghost Town and Study Butte are really one and the same.  Two remote desert communities that run together with no visible boundary.  Just a few hundred people inhabit the area.  But having said that, they do have a school, bank, church, medical clinic, etc.  Personally, I love the area for what it is.  A place to go and just lay back and forget your troubles.

One distinct thing about the place.  You can drive around and see things of unusual nature.  You wonder where they came from, what possessed people to come up with things.  You never know what you will see around the next bend in the road.

Old ghost town ruins

Old ghost town ruins

Old ruins near Study Butte

Remnants of another time, a bygone era.  In the early 1900s a mercury, or quicksilver mine existed in the area.  Today all that is left is ruins of old buildings, piles of slag once removed from the ore, and signs of rusting equipment scattered here and there.

Terlingua ghost town sculpture

This is the result of some enterprising sculptor being creative in the desert.  In and around the Terlingua Ghost Town are small art studios or galleries.  I use those terms loosely, as many of the artists just moved into some of the adobe ruins, or an old van and done some renovation.  I don’t know what the above sculpture above represents.  Perhaps, a dragon-fly with it’s 6-foot wingspan,  or a giant mosquito, of which there are very few in the desert, or maybe just an imaginery bug.  Anyway, it is just planted there in the sand.

An abandoned home??

This is an old abandon house trailer and pickup truck.  They are still attached together.  They both need a little work.

Red-tailed Hawk

A Red-tailed Hawk flies overhead.

Desert Sotol

A familiar sight in the desert.  The sotol standing vigil with the gap of the Santa Elena Canyon in the far distance.

Balanced Rock at the Hoodoos

Along Highway 170, by the Rio Grande River, there is an area of eroded formations called the Hoodoos.  This 10-foot diameter balanced rock looks like it is nearly ready to fall into the river.  Look carefully and you can see daylight underneath.

Passing Wind

Don’t ask.  I have no idea what it is supposed to be either.  There are sails furled on those masts.  To the right is an old conning tower from a submarine. (or maybe a replica).  A large number 643 painted on the side.  There is a camper trailer parked to the side.  I have never seen an individual on the premises.  It is located on the road that passes by the Terlingua ghost town.

Terlingua Ghost Town cemetery

This old cemetery at the Terlingua ghost town has grave sites dating back to during the 1800s.  It is still in use today.

Greater Roadrunner

A Greater Roadrunner, or chapparal, on a rare patch of grass.  He doesn’t seem to know what is going on either.  Time to move on.

I hope you enjoyed this selection of photos from far southwest Texas.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.  For more photos from the Big Bend and other images, click on my Flickr logo on right side of this page.

Big Bend – Part V – Places to stay and eat

When people begin planning their trip to the Big Bend country, choosing a place to stay can be difficult.  The pickin’s are a bit slim, you might say.  A lot of people that are mostly interested in Big Bend National Park, think first about staying at the Lodge in the Chisos Mountains Basin.  It is, without question, one of the most beautiful places to visit.  The lodge was built by the old CCC boys around the time time  the national park was created, the early 1940s.  They are solid construction and well maintained.  Gorgeous views of the mountains and peaks.  Very busy except in the hottest months, so reservations must be made months in advance.

Outside the park to the west one may want to stay at Lajitas.  It is a little up-scale, with prices to match.  But if you like to be spoiled, and have everything you could possibly want, including a championship golf course, this is the place to be.  It is about 50 miles to park headquarters, but it also gives you better access to other sights in the area.

A little bit nearer, also to the west would be the Study Butte slash Terlingua Area.  Study Butte has some motor inns as does Terlingua.  One of our favorite places is the Chisos Mining Company at Easter Egg Valley.  An old, but very clean, economic place to stay. It has the normal one-story motel building, but also a few cabins set on the hillside, all painted in pastel colors.  Hence the name.  About one mile north of Study Butte.

Another new place that has just opened is the cabins at FarFlung Adventures.  I know nothing of it, I just happened to notice that construction had just finished and it was open for business.

Of course, there is the historic Gage Hotel at Marathon, north of Big Bend National Park.  It’s about a 65 mile drive directly south to the BBNP headquarters at Panther Junction.

In the area arond Study Butte and Terlingua there are also several RV parks.  You can bring RVs up to the lodge in Chisos Mountains, but there are certain restrictions on the length of your vehicle.  That’s because of the very, very tight hairpin curves on the highway in the mountains.

As for places to eat.  The food is excellent at the Lodge in the Chisos.  The same is said for the restaurant at Lajitas, but a bit more pricier.  Try their wine-garitas.  Margaritas made from agava wine.  Very good.

A couple of miles north of Lajitas along the road you may see what looks like a half of a double-wide mobile home.  Plain looking, with a sign outside proclaiming Long Draw Pizza.  DO NOT judge this place by the appearance.  Inside it is a beautiful restaurant, run by a little lady by the name of Nancy.  Absolutely, one of the best pizza places in the state.  We had been passing by the place literally a hundred time over the years, but ignored it, thinking that it was just another beer joint.  But on our latest trip, we decided to give a try.  It opens at 5:00 PM.  We were there on the dot, the first vehicle in the parking lot.  Wow, what a surprise when we walked in the door.  This is a must place to try.

Near to Study Butte, on the banks of Terlingua Creek is LaKiva.  A unique place, to say the least.  You feel like you’re entering a cave, as you walk down the cement steps to enter.  Great steaks, food and drinks, especially the margaritas.  Check out the old bones on the wall.  The little brass plaque will tell you where they come from.  Tuesday night is karaoke night.  Loads of fun.  Yours truly lent his voice to the masses one night last spring.  It opens nightly at about 4:00 PM.

If you’re making a trip to that area soon, take me with you. 🙂

Bob Zeller