Road Trip Big Bend: Big Bend National Park

This following post represents the collective experiences and thoughts of three women who set out on a 1,500 mile trek across West Texas in December 2003. This is their “Road Trip: Big Bend.”

 

SATURDAY

Was it the utter silence that kept us awake all night? Perhaps the Southern Pacific railroad that passed in front of the hotel at least three times between midnight and five? Or maybe our weary brains were filled with the thoughts of the adventure ahead? Despite it all, we awoke in the morning full of conversation and excited!

It was cold outside, maybe 35 degrees, but steaming showers in the luxurious bathroom warmed us. With breakfast snacks of fruit and bagels and coffee, we were packed and back on the road by eight.

Route 385 leaves Marathon in the distance behind us, and we make our way south into Big Bend National Park — an 801,000 acres park that fills the southwestern section of Texas and borders the Rio Grand and Mexico. One guidebook compares Big Bend to the size of the state of Rhode Island!

As we drive south toward the park, we pass a large buck along the side of the road. He grandly jumps the fence as we pass, no doubt startled by the ferocity of our mighty engine roaring across the morning desert.

That desert stretches out before us with bold mesas standing wait ahead—this is where we will travel today—to Panther Junction, east to Santa Elena Junction past the Chisos Mountains to our left, then southwest down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive which “skirts the western slopes of the Chisos Mountains, climbing up to one the park’s most outstanding views at Sotol Vista, then winding down to parallel the Rio Grande at Castolon Historic District and winding up at Santa Elena Canyon trailhead, where the pavement ends.”

Heading South from Marathon
On the road to Big Bend
How we travel
Santiago Peak, Route 385
South on 385 from Marathon
Chisos Mountain Range near Panther Junction
Road Trip: Big Bend narrative & photos ©2020, Jen Payne.

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