Sunday, December 20, 2015

Back at Big Bend

The Mary Joan in Chisos Basin Campground (note the large boulders at the side of the road they will be revealed)

From Seminole Canyon State Park, we continued west on US90 to Marathon, TX. We stopped in Marathon long enough to collect the mail we had delivered there and to acquire provisions. The plan was to explore Black Gap Wildlife Management Area which my research told me is some of the wildest and most pristine land in West Texas. Located just east of Big Bend National Park, it was on the way. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the headquarters, we learned that the area was closed for hunting. The caretaker let us camp at the headquarters that night and the next day we made the short drive into Big Bend National Park.
Beep Beep. This roadrunner wasn't too shy

Two years ago when we visited Big Bend we wanted to camp in Chisos Basin Campground, but thought that our trailer was too big since there were signs posted "Not Recommended For Trailers in Excess of 24 feet". At that time, we stayed in Rio Grande Village, which is essentially a parking lot where people can dry camp (no water, electricity or sewage connections). While it was close to the hot springs, it was a 30 minute drive to the best hikes in the Chisos Mountains. That year, after driving through the campground, I realized that I could have maneuvered the tight turns on the road into the basin as well as those in the campground. When we arrived at the park this year, I asked if the length limit was a regulation or an admonition. The ranger said it was the latter. So, we drove into Chisos Basin Campground with the Mary Joan. It was tight, but manageable. In fact, while we were there, two drivers of pickup trucks ran into the rocks placed to keep vehicles on the roadway. However, while I was able to maneuver the Mary Joan through the obstacle field, when leaving the brightly lit trailer to set up the telescope in order to see the stars, I tripped on one of those large boulders and broke a rib. It is healing, but coughing, sneezing, laughing and sleeping are painful.
Our campsite and the offending boulders
At Panther Junction visitor center we saw this incredible self made Motorhome. (we saw it again two days later, it was leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park as we were arriving). I have a feeling we will see it again.

We did a number of hikes in the beautiful Chisos Mountains, the climax of which was the hike to Emory Peak, the highest in the park. The trail to the summit from the campground is 10 miles with an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet. The trail passes through many ecosystems and provides beautiful vistas and pastoral images. Despite a broken rib and except for the rock scramble at the summit, it was a most enjoyable hike. It was cold and very windy so I put my camera in the backpack for the hike down. Of course it was on the way down that an eight point white tailed deer ambled within 10 feet of me. He was wary, but not afraid, and just slowly walked off the trail to get around me and continue on his way.
Emory Peak Summit
On Friday evening we drove to Terlinqua, just outside the park, to dine at The Starlight Theater. While driving, a strong weather front moved over us. We experienced an infrequent event in the desert, a powerful thunderstorm with strong wind and rain. While the view of the sunset on the Chisos Mountains from Terlinqua is legendary, the local residents were thrilled to watch the lightening and rain of this storm.
We enjoyed our special rainbow on the way to Terlinqua
The clouds were building

Ready for Rain

Marfa, Texas was our next stop. Sarah spent a few weeks here two years ago while I went home to deal with the damage to the house caused by a frozen heating pipe. She made friends here she wanted to visit again. We stayed at the same campground, The Tumble In, just a half mile from town.

Welcome to the Tumble In

After Marfa, we continued west on US90 to Texas 54 north and Guadalupe Mountains National Park's Pine Springs Campground on the Texas side of the park. During our last visit to this park, we entered through Dog Canyon on the New Mexico side. This park is a hiker's and backpacker's destination. The terrain is rough and challenging. About the only way to see the wondrous sites in this park is to do it on foot, which is exactly what we wanted. Guadalupe National Park is the home of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the State of Texas. The "campground" for RVs is a parking lot with no utilities except for flush toilets.
Looking east from Guadalupe Peak
The park is on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route and the remains of one of the stops on the route is a short walk from the park visitor's center. Preceding the advent of the Pony Express, The Butterfield Overland Mail Route delivered mail and passengers from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California. I was surprised to find at the summit a stainless steel pyramid erected by American Airlines in 1958 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Butterfield Route.

Guadalupe Peak

We'll post when possible, stay tuned.


  1. One of my absolute favorites. Big Bend, Terlingua and Marfa are among my favorite Airstream destinations.

  2. Hi Wayne! We're looking to visit Big Bend in our 20'9" Lance 1685 travel trailer and were curious if you remember what campsite number you had? We're thinking probably late March/early April and would like to make a reservation if possible. is less than helpful - imagine that. :) You can e-mail us at jan at trailertraveler dot net and let us know. THANKS so much!


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