Chisos Mountains, Oasis and Bears- Big Bend Natl. Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains, Big Bend Chisos mountains, Texas
Road to the basin, Big Bend Natl. park

After eating dust for what felt like most of the afternoon driving through rough terrain on Glenn Spring Rd, getting back onto the paved highway almost brought tears of joy to me and the bf’s eyes. Of course, we’d barely been on the road for 5 minutes before he was pulling over for me to get out and repeat my love affair with the blazing hot winds just to photograph the surrounding landscape.

The park is, for the most part, a study in brown. It moves from the lightest of browns that you could almost pin towards white, to the farthest tips on the horizon that blur into shadows of black. But driving towards the Chisos Basin, our eyes were immediately inundated in a splendor of green, that lush and verdantly brilliant sign of life.

Perhaps thats why the bears that inhabit this park call solely this area home. I guess if I was going to pick a place to settle in, it would make sense to pick here. Not 5 minutes away from the visitor center, we were on the road and noticed that just up ahead the car in front of us had slowed down and had it’s hazards turned on….but the truly odd thing was the girl with her phone sticking out of the passenger side window. We held back a ways away till they drove off and then continued on, at which point I looked over to see what it had been that had so captured these peoples attentions and there just a few dozen feet down the side of the road, a bear.

I don’t think i’ve mentioned this before, I doubt i’ve had a reason to but- i’m really outrageously terrified of bears. It’s not a phobia, not does it come from some traumatic event, I just really think bears are rather scary predators and I would much rather swim with sharks than go camping with bears. So you can imagine my great joy seeing that bear just hanging out 3 minuets away from the parking lot of the visitor center. To the people camping in that area, I greatly admire your acceptance of mortality, I probably have to work on that a bit more.


The Mild Insanity of Glenn Spring Rd- Big Bend Natl. Park, Texas

Glenn Spring Rd. Big Bend Natl. Park Glenn Spring Rd. Big Bend Natl. Park Glenn Spring Rd. Big Bend Natl. Park
Glenn Spring Rd. Big Bend Natl. Park
Big Bend Natl. Park mountainsRice Tank, Big Bend Natl. Park
Big Bend Landscape Big Bend Natl. Park mountains
Big Bend Natl. Park mountains
Big Bend Natl. Park mountains
the landscape of Big Bend Natl. Park
Big Bend natl. Park Landscape

After leaving Mariscal Mine, we headed back on E. River Road instead of going forwards towards Black Gap Rd because we had been informed it was not maintained and therefore not the best choice for any non 4WD cars. To be fair, our experience with the E. River Road was pretty much this definition as well, so we hoped that Glenn Spring Rd. would prove to be a bit of a rest for our Jeep (and our butts) from the rocky dirt teeth-clattering challenge we had just been through. Not that I minded the bump-bump-bump of every mile turned into the time equivalent of 5 but I was still feeling the effects of a near miss of a heat stroke, so the bf was taking the wheel this time around.

After about a good half hour down Glenn Spring rd. it was decided that whoever had written in the official brochure for the park that the road was fine for sedans had either been drinking on the job or just had a really optimistic heart. My personal advice is that low clearance vehicles should really not venture too far down this road as even our little Jeep was struggling a bit. I had recovered enough strength an hour in to take the wheel again and while the road just kept getting rougher and rougher, I pushed on in the directions of the looming mountains ahead. Wrapping a scarf around my face once more, I ventured out into the oppressive (and impressive) heat to really take in the expansive beauty, buffeted by hot winds and a sun so hellish it felt like it was licking my skin with flames just standing out in the open holding my camera to my sweating face with my dry hands.

Basically what i’m trying to say is, it was all kinds of awesome and we were the only car to be seen the whole 2 hour drive on either side of the road, the only life out there besides the enormous jack rabbits that seemed to follow us from the sides of the road for miles and miles.


Mule Ears and The East River Road- Big Bend Natl. Park

Mule Ears view point, Big Bend Natl. park river road, east- big bend national park

Of all the things i’ve found a hard time explaining about my visit to Big Bend, finding a way to accurately describe the heat we experienced is probably up there in the Top 5. Of course, there’s a reason we encountered barely anyone while traipsing from Mule Ears view point (seen in the first 5 photos up above) to hours later when we (ok ok, this was solely my decision and more on that later) took our lives in our hands to travel down the dirt road that is the East River Road. And that reason would be that more sane-minded people realized how incredibly hot it would be in a desert environment park in the southern part of Texas at the end of June.

By the time we hit this part in our road adventure, temperatures were hitting a nice 109°f/42°c and winds were picking up to a violent fervor, making it a special kind of hellish. After my second time stepping out of the car to get a good shot and being buffeted by scorching winds that literally took my breath away in a rather painful way, I did the only rational thing you could expect me to do. I stripped down to my tank top, sprayed on some more sunscreen, wrapped a long sheer scarf around my head and face and- got right back to photographing the landscape. The goal of taking the river road (and trust me, I will expound later on why exactly a goal was needed to keep motivated while traversing this rock riddled suggestion of what a road should be) was to make it to the abandoned Mariscal Mine area. There’s a terrifyingly raw and visually arresting kind of beauty to be found just making your way down this road though, even with no eventual goal in mind.


Old Maverick Road, Santa Elena Canyon- Big Bend Natl. Park

maverick road, big bend plant life
towards santa elena canyon
Old Maverick rd, Big Bend Natl. Rd

plant life, big bend natl. park
Old Maverick road
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

As always, the full comprehensive post of how we got here, what exactly we did and the best places to see – that will all be saved for the last post when I finally sit myself down to comprehensively write it all out in a way that makes sense. (right now i’m tempted to just snap a pic of the whole map, circle it and write in big red marker “visit all of it!”)

For now, have a look at the sights to see down on Old Maverick Road, as we made our way towards Santa Elena Canyon. The desert is colorful and sparkling bright so much so that my eyes watered and it had nothing to do with the incredible heat.