Tuesday, May 3, 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!


  1. Glad to see you back to posting. Looking forward to your travels.

    1. We will try and post more often now that we're moving again. Just hard to post when sitting still for long periods of time (like wintering over).

  2. That is some cart! Imagine how long it must have taken to load and unload, not counting how "soft" it must have rode. Of course it would be big enough to hold most RVer's toys... ;c)

    1. Thought about getting one to hold the Fit, but figure I'd need some big ramps and a winch to get it into the cart. LOL

  3. Isn't this a terrific area ... we really enjoyed the River Road, even though the first time we drove it to Presidio was for a dental emergency. Had we continued across the border to get the problem handled, my wallet wouldn't be as light as it is after today's visit to the dentist in Corpus ;-)

    1. We really enjoyed the area. I have a couple of more blogs on the subject, but you never know when you're giving too much detail. People tend to get bored when reading longer blogs.
      There's no doubt that you would have saved money over the border. Our dental trip into Mexico certainly proved that.