Big Bend National Park stretches over hundreds of thousands of acres in southwest Texas and devours an entire mountain range, parts of the Rio Grande and an endless desert. The landscape is dotted with resilient, prickly flora and wildlife, and summer brings intermittent thunderstorms to Texas. During the daytime, the low altitude sun in the Chihuahua Desert is hot enough to kill, but high up on Emory Peak, nighttime temperatures drop dramatically. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But as soon as the sun goes down behind the mountain peaks, the sky is full of stars. Big Bend has the lowest light pollution of any national park in the country. The Milky Way shines overhead on cloudless nights. Because of this, there are no stars like Big Bend anywhere else in Texas.
More adventurous canoeing through Santa Elena Canyon, where the water has carved great halls out of stone over time. In some places canyon walls protrude over 300 meters above the Rio Grande. You will stop to explore side canyons and have lunch on sandbanks, sheltered in calm currents. Or they hike, sometimes ambitiously, on the 30 mile long Outer Mountain Loop. Others head out early in the morning to avoid the heat and before noon breathe in the sight of the Juniper Valley that spreads out below the Lost Mine Trail. Two of Big Bend’s five visitor centers are open during the summer, and it’s important to speak to the park rangers to take guided tours and plan a safe trip. Big Bend is not kind to unprepared travelers.
After long days in the Texas wilderness, stay at the park with Big Bend Glamping, where they offer a variety of accommodations, from cabins to tipis and trailers to a couple of dome tents, all on their Chinos Campground.
Or, for a relaxing and gentle reintegration into civilization while visiting Big Bend, stay at Eve’s Garden. Eve’s Garden, a bed and breakfast and ecology resource center at Park Marathon, Texas Gateway, is a huge adobe house with a pond, tea room, and extensive indoor gardens. Six of the seven open directly into the courtyard, which is filled with flowers all year round. The seventh, the orchard room, looks out into her orchard. It’s an oasis just outside of the most challenging Texas landscapes.
Originally published as part of the Weekend Getaways May / June 2021 edition. For those who long for starlight, beaches and summer breezes: Texas Highways are calling you. From rugged canyons to the comfort of the hill country, Texas destinations are ready to welcome weary travelers. If you feel trapped this year, it’s time to run free.