Travel & Outdoors

Laguna Atascosa
Bird’s-eye View

Aug 13, 2015 By Jordan Breal

The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is a world-class site for birding and . . . ocelotting?

The Checklist

Jul 23, 2015 By Jeff Salamon

What to read, hear, watch, and look at to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.  

Trip Guide: Canadian

Jun 24, 2015 By Jordan Breal

A small town that has just enough of everything but not too much of anything, which makes it an ideal place to while away an unhurried weekend.

Higher Plains

Jun 11, 2015 By Jordan Breal

Sometimes, when you want a lot of space, you need to go somewhere small—like Canadian.

Carpe Museum

May 13, 2015 By Jordan Breal

When you’ve got Barney Smith’s toilet seat exhibit, who needs the Rothko Chapel?  

A Few Quick Notes On Getting to and Around the Park

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

Driving:  You can enter the park at Persimmon Gap (from Marathon, drive 70 miles south on U.S. 385 to Panther Junction) or Study Butte (from Alpine, drive 80 miles south on Texas Hwy. 118, then follow FM 170 to Maverick Junction). An entrance pass, good for 7 days, is…

Metate Camp

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

I’d intended to cross the Mesa de Anguila—a plateau on the far southwestern edge of Big Bend—to reach Entrance Camp, at the head of Santa Elena Canyon, where I knew that sandy shores would be the ideal spot to pitch a tent and enjoy the sunset. I’d been told this…

Mariscal Canyon

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

“You couldn’t pick a much harder place to get to,” said Zach Hubbard, the guide who was helping me navigate a two-day paddle down Mariscal Canyon. Simply getting to the river had been a challenge: we’d met early in Terlingua, then headed across the park until we reached a backcountry stretch…

Pine Canyon Trail

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

The tick-tick sound of moisture I’d been hiding from in my tent turned out to be an unexpectedly beautiful surprise: frozen flurries, falling onto my nylon tarp. I unzipped the flap to find a ghostly dusting of snow on the tawny grasses, sotol, and prickly pear. I shrugged off my…

Old Ore Road

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

“If it were hotter out, we’d be soaking in that pool,” said veteran guide Mike Long, who, along with his wife, Crystal Allbright, was leading our thirty-mile bike ride down Old Ore Road. The dirt trail, once a route for miners to ferry silver and zinc out from the Dead…

The Window

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

The famous window, that vertiginous notch in the Chisos Basin, is so spectacular and relatively simple to reach that the hike to it can feel a little like cheating. It’s worth noting that there is a short paved path from the park’s lodge to a view onto the Window, but that’s…

South Rim Loop

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

You can keep your Grand Canyon, Arizona. We’ve got our own South Rim. Here, atop the cliffs of the Chisos Basin, along a bruising circuit that fitness freaks tackle in six to eight hours, you can peer up to one hundred miles into Mexico. Taking in the mountains that stretch…

Balanced Rock

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

Exploring the park’s rugged landscape can sometimes take more determination than your average second grader can muster. Not so when it comes to Grapevine Hills, where jagged outcroppings and a field of misshapen rocks evoke the worlds of Dr. Seuss. A six-mile drivable dirt road drops you at the trailhead, no…

Lost Mine Trail

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

For a lot of my neighbors in Houston, the very notion of climbing 1,100 feet over two and a half miles is reason enough to have one’s head examined. But what do they know? Lost Mine Trail’s terrain may be rugged, but you don’t have to be an expert to tackle…

Lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

Thanks to Big Bend’s past—volcanic activity, persistent tectonic pressure, erosion—each of its canyons is as unique as a fingerprint. At the Lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off, a one-hundred-foot seasonal waterfall has washed away the tuff, or solidified volcanic ash, leaving behind a spectacular, easy-to-reach box canyon. The area was once home…

Emory Peak

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

At 7,832 feet, Emory Peak is not the highest point in Texas, but it is the highest in Big Bend, which means it should grab every capable hiker’s attention. Yes, it’s a steep, five-mile climb not for the faint of heart, but the bird’s-eye perspective from this stark lookout, reached…

Hot Springs Historic District

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

“The desert will scour your soul,” wrote the cantankerous environmentalist Edward Abbey. But not everybody who comes out to Big Bend, an area Abbey knew well (his classic Desert Solitaire can be purchased at Panther Junction), is looking to get roughed up. Fortunately, there is the Hot Springs Historic District,…

Santa Elena Canyon

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

Few sights rival the view upstream into the 1,500-foot gorge known as Santa Elena. Its limestone cliffs and rocky depths deterred explorers until 1899, when geologist Robert T. Hill, working on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey, headed to Big Bend to take on the “longest and least known” stretch…

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Apr 21, 2015 By annette waller

Given the hours it usually takes to drive to Big Bend in the first place, it may seem counterintuitive to encourage more time behind the wheel. But the thirty-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, named after the park’s first superintendent, offers such a spectacular sense of the terrain that you may…