Big Bend National Park quietly guards the southern border of our nation. It looks like the lovechild of the Grand Canyon and the Badlands with a little bit of mountain range showing up in the gene pool too. It’s a mixture of bluffs, mesas, spires, buttes, desert and prairie.
There is only one word for this place……Wow. And not with an exclamation point like you’re screaming it, but instead with a long, drawn out, nearly overwhelmed-by-its-beauty kind of sigh as you say it, over and over and over again. Wow.
The Christmas Mountains are here and I capture them somewhere in the distance of the following photograph….perfect timing since its December.
The park is big and somehow seems more three-dimensional than other places. The peaks are sharper and seem more contrasted against the plains than elsewhere.
The green-blue Rio Grande River traces a thin line between the United States and Mexico. There are no fences and I watch a couple of riders wade their horses through the shallow river crossing into the other country.
There are so many kinds of cacti here – barrel, cholla, ocotillo, and others. And I find one with 3-inch long spines.
As I ride from Panther Junction, park headquarters, down to Rio Grande Village to see the river crossing to Boquillas del Carmen, I see something crossing the road about 100 yards up ahead. It’s slow and small but I can see it. As I get closer I try hard to make out what it is, only to find out when I get there that it is a tarantula. Imagine a spider so big you can see it crossing the road from that far away. That one spooks me too much for me to stop and take a picture of. I’m creeped out by spiders. But on day two I park and get a pic of a smaller one. Tarantulas are fuzzy and chubby so they aren’t quite as scary as other kinds of spiders even though they’re bigger. Maybe the fuzz and chub make them seem more like a stuffed animal version of a spider to me.
Even with the spiders, this place is worth every mile.