Friday, June 29, 2012

Your Weekend: Braving Big Bend

It’s summertime—pack up your bags, your friends, your kids, or your dog and load up the mini-van for a summer vacation you’ll never forget. It’s time to use those vacation days you’ve been saving up, and enjoy one of the most beautiful natural sites in America.

Located in the tip of southwest Texas, Big Bend National Park is highly underestimated. It is an area of Texas so unlike any other, and America’s last frontier wilderness. With over 800,000 acres, the park ranges from mountainous terrain to flat dessert plains, featuring cool rivers and abundant forests. There is a wide variety of wildlife as well—including birds, butterflies, and black bears.

Enjoying Big Bend (Texas A&M University Press, 2009) by Gary and Kathy Adams Clark, ensures there is an adventure for everyone at Big Bend. If you only have a couple hours, a couple days, or a week’s stay at the park, the Clarks have included detailed adventures and sights for you.

Kathy Clark has introduced us to her favorite location with the best views, and has included her own photograph as well:
"My favorite place in Big Bend National Park is the Window View at sunset.  The Window View is a notch in the mountains that looks west if you're standing in The Basin high in the Chisos Mountains.  The sun sets through the Window all year.  In the summer it is really spectacular because there is dust in the air that refracts the light.  The oranges and reds are really intense.  Sometimes there are summer thunder clouds out in the desert and that's special.  If the thunder clouds create a storm with lightning, it's really special."    

Instead of going to your neighborhood chlorinated pool or watching re-runs of the Bachelor this weekend, follow these instructions and experience the lure of Big Bend National Park.

What: Walk the Chisos Basin Loop Trail located in Big Bend.

Location: Start and end at the Chisos Basin Trailhead.

Getting There: The trail is 1.6 miles on foot, and will take roughly 1-2 hours to complete.

About Chisos Basin Loop Trail: This trail is a simpler way to enjoy the flora and fauna of Big Bend without the strain of hiking uphill. You will be able to see a wider picture of the whole park and enjoy it at an easy pace.

What You'll See: You will be able to enjoy the various species of trees that cover the surface of the mountain, Casa Grande, as well as the potential to see wildlife across the trails. There are beautiful birds, butterflies, and various wildflowers unlike any others seen in Texas. Clark recommends keeping an eye out for the different types of grass growing along the trail--lechuguilla, stool, Harvard agave, and bear grass. There will also be plenty of scat, or animal poop, left behind by deer, fox, and rabbits that may have been left during the night.

The Clarks Recommend: “Carry binoculars to watch birds, butterflies, and other creatures. Bring your camera or sketch pad to record sights.” Clark also suggests starting the trail during the early morning or late afternoon for a chance at the best sights. Drinking lots of water and wearing a hat and good hiking shoes are a must during hot weather.

While You're At It: Clark has included follow-ups to this adventure if you’re still hungry for more. Pinnacles Trail, Laguna Meadow Trail, Southwest Rim Trail, or Lost Mine Trail are a few other walking trails located in Big Bend.

Order Enjoying Big Bend National Park today for the best guide to exploring the park, including one color map and 57 color photos capturing the park’s beauty.

TELL TAMU PRESS: Have you ever been to Big Bend National Park? Tell us about your favorite adventure. 

By: Madeline Loving

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