A large part of the Big Bend area in Texas will remind you of an old spaghetti-western movie we watched years ago. As you look out across the sparse vegetation and rugged rock formations one would almost expect to see John Wayne with a Calvary troop coming up over the horizon. The Big Bend area still looks the same today as it did when life was lived over a hundred years ago on the Old West frontier. There are numerous museums and old forts throughout this region that are saving the heritage and the history of a way of life as it existed on the 1800′s frontier.
When you look at a map of Texas, the far southwest corner of the map is the Big Bend Country. The borders are outlined with the Rio Grande River from El Paso to Del Rio. This is the land that was loosely defined as “lawless, west of the Pecos River”. The area encompasses over 1.17 million acres and in excess of 40,000 square miles. Within this real estate is two National Parks, several State Parks, a desert, a huge oak forest, towering mountain ranges and the churning rapids of the Rio Grande river. A person can hike, camp, run the river rapids, horseback riding, mountain bicycling, jeep touring or just plain enjoy the sightseeing opportunities. If you love to paint or take photographs, this is a breathtaking place to be – sunsets, moon rises, mountains and the beauty of the desert.
The USA Highway Trip blogs are all about the highways and towns across the country; the ultimate “Road Trips”. The Big Bend region is sparsely populated, arid, and rugged but nevertheless has many unique towns filled with history and ambiance. I will be adding the restaurants, hotels/motels and campsites as they are far and few between. Enjoy as we road trip our way through the Big Bend Country of southwest Texas.
The vast majority of this road trip will take place in or on the fringes of the Chihuahua Desert. The word desert brings up mental pictures of suffocating heat during the day and arid landscapes; but this desert has mountains, valleys and green meadows that must be seen to really appreciate the hidden and rugged beauty. If you are looking for a place to get away from it all then look no further.
We are starting our journey on Texas State Highway 62/180. At this point of our road trip, a word of warning – gas stations are few and far between. You would be advised not to take this route without at least a half of a tank of gas. This route will take us through Guadalupe Mountains National Park plus four small towns as we head into El Paso. These blogs are all about the towns, sights and “what to do”. Just remember the best surprises can come in small packages. We will start this post with the tiny town of Pine Springs. This tiny community of approximately 20 people lies 21 miles from the New Mexico border on Highway 62/180. Pine Springs was established in 1858 as a stagecoach station on the famous Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Although today all that is left of the station is some tumbled down stone ruins and a historical marker, but I bet if you try, you can picture in your mind the corrals, stagecoach buildings and a cloud of dust as the stage comes rolling in. Today Pine Springs claim to fame is the fact that the town sets at the “front gate” to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The only conveniences that Pine Springs offers is a campground near the ruins of the stage station for tents and self-contained RV camping. Rest rooms and water is available at the campgrounds.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the state’s highest point (elevations ranging from 3,650 to 8,749 feet) plus contains one of the most breath-taking scenic beauty in the entire state – McKittrick Canyon. The barren desert surrounding the outer mountains give a hidden picture of the inner mountain slops. Within the McKittrick Canyon is forests of ponderosa pines, aspens, maples and mountain junipers plus an abundance of deer and elk in the upland meadows. Visitors may drive near the mouth of McKittrick Canyon and use the easy hiking trails. Visitors are encouraged to stop at the headquaraters visitor center on U.S. Highway 62/180 near Pine Springs.
The native Texans are not kidding when they call their state “a whole other country”. This enormous state has ocean front property, mountains, deserts, cotton fields, oil wells galore, a city dedicated to growing the largest and most beautiful roses, cowboy towns, sophisticated cities, national league football, baseball and basketball teams and the list goes on and on.
Because of the size and diversity of this state, I have decided to truly do justice to Texas I will have to divide it into seven regions – kind of like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. If you enjoy reading about the past and current history of the highways and towns, learning what there is to see and do plus where to eat and sleep then this is the travel blog for you. If you like history, that is my expertise and I will be providing information on the towns and area as we journey down each highway. Like to take road trips but don’t have the time or resources to travel as much as you would like? Then join me, while we”Road Trip” across Texas from the comfort of your home. Hopefully you will enjoy my highway commentaries about what there is to see and do, what is available along the way for lodging and dining and the monthly events in the area. We will also journey down four or five more highways, visit the two National Parks in this area and skirt along the Mexican border before moving on to another fascinating region of this huge state.
This is going to be a long blog and hopefully will turn into an e-book or two or three along the way. If you are looking for something or just have a question, please feel free to ask. If I don’t know the answer I will do the research for you and find it. Better yet if you have a story, picture or comment you would like to add to the blog PLEASE feel free to do so.