Friday, February 22, 2019

Big Bend National Park February 2018

   2018 February     Our Trip to Big Bend National Park

Last year in mid February, Mike and I took a trip to Midland Texas, to see our son and his family.  We spent three days at their home then borrowed Andrew's truck and set out on our own to Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park.

 This is what we left in Michigan, that is an ice shanty on Sterns Bayou.  Cold and snowy.

Our stop over was in Dallas, Texas - I am always amazed at the amount of water in the Dallas area.  And no snow.  We flew on to Midland and visited with the grandkids for a few days.  It is definitely difficult to have such precious family living so far away.  At least we get to see them a few times each year.

It was just Mike and I for this trip to Big Bend so we rented a small place.  A unique place.  Tiny Terlingua in the town of Terlingua.

 That ladder is the way to the bed...

 The separate bath house is as big as the house, complete with a rain shower.
Tiny Terlingua was a great place for the two of us to stay, clean, comfy, and cozy!  Beautiful views from the "bedroom".

 Sunset from Tiny Terlingua
Morning from Tiny Terlingua

One of the many hikes we went on was Mule Ears Spring Trail.
Difficulty: Moderate; Distance: 3.8 miles round trip
Mule Ears Overlook parking area, mile 15, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
This hike leads through the foothills of the Chisos Mountains, skirts Trap Mountain, and crosses several arroyos. Near the spring is an old rock corral. The spring itself is overgrown with shrubs, but ferns and cattails also grow there.
Mule Ears from the start of the trail

Mule Ears getting closer, first you come to the spring.

  Mule Ears Spring - Yes that is the spring.

We reached the spring, we saw a bit of water, a tadpole, and some ferns, then we walked on.  I had read an article about this area and the author strongly recommended walking beyond the spring to Smoky Creek.  In the article it said about a mile past Mule Ears Spring you would encounter beautiful quartz rocks and crystals.  And that Smokey Creek is filled with black rocks.  Just up a hill from the creek is a spectacular view of Mule Ears.

We did see the ground sparkling from quartz, we saw the black rocks in the dry creek bed, and we got to see Mule Ears up close.  So our short 4 mile walk turned into a ~10  mile hike since we went a mile past Smokey Creek, then returned the same way we came.

We made it back to the truck and drove to Castolon Visitors Center for an ice cream treat. 
The photo below is of Mule Ears taken from the truck as we drove on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  On the hike we were on the other side of Mule Ears. 

After having ice cream, we should have gone back and rested at Tiny Terlingua but, oh no, we decided to drive all the way to the Rio Grande Visitor center.  About 55 miles one way from Castolon, and the speed limit is 45 mph.  Such beautiful views on the way to Rio Grande Village.

Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
"Although short and easy, the trail is very scenic and has fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially birds. The first 100 yards is wheelchair accessible and crosses a boardwalk through a spring-fed wetland. Then the trail gradually climbs a limestone hill with panoramic vistas of the Rio Grande, and the Chisos and Del Carmen Mountains. This trail is great for sunsets."

Just eight days before we visited..."February 12 2018 A prescribed fire at the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail burned the non-native river cane that had been encroaching into the pond area, while leaving the boardwalk intact. The purpose of this burn was to help restore the ecosystem, and the park looks forward to watching plants, birds, and other native species return to this area. Thank you to all the crews who helped make this happen!"

Rio Grande River, border with Mexico

   Sierra del Carmen mountain range
   Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico
After the Village Nature walk, we drove northeast 4 miles to Boquillas Canyon Trail.  Unfortunately it was late in the day when we arrived, so it was a short and fast hike.  Then the 53 mile drive to Terlingua.
 Boquillas Canyon
What a day!  Lots of walking and driving.  The mountains are amazing, and so different from where we live.  It really is a great place to explore.
Big Bend National Park encompasses an area of 801,163 acres (1,251.8 sq. mi.)
Next time the rest of this trip, onto Big Bend Ranch State Park.


Allen Norcross said...

Wow, I would surely be going there again. It's beautifiul. Great to see the flowers!

Plants Amaze Me said...

Thanks, Allen. Beautiful and warm in February. We have visited Big Bend several years in a row, this year is something different. we will see how it goes!