Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Monday, April 16, 2012

National Park: Big Bend -- Apr. 15

Marathon, Texas:
Sunday, April 15: This morning we got up "early" and left Marathon at 8:30 a.m. for a day of hiking in Big Bend National Park. Our first stop was the Castolon Visitor Center on the southwest side of the park. We asked the ranger about the Ward Spring Trail and the Mule Ears Spring Trail. He got out a trail book and explained those hikes to us, but then he said, "I've got an even better trail. It's secret and not on the park maps." He explained to us how to get to the trailhead. We decided we'd go there after the Santa Elena Canyon hike (1.6 mi). Nice temperature, cool-ish breeze.

Santa Elena Canyon hike photos:

Bob on Santa Elena Canyon trail--Rio Grande River

Bob by the Rio Grande--Mexico across river


Yes, that's bamboo!
Santa Elena Canyon
Cerro Castellan photos:

Road below Cerro Castellan

Tuff Canyon hike (1 mi.) -- photos:

Tuff Canyon - dry waterfall

Tuff Canyon from viewpoint

View of Cerro Castellan from Tuff Canyon floor

Bob in Tuff Canyon
Mule Ears Viewpoint: We think it looks like Batman ears. Of course they didn't have Batman back in the days when it was named!

Mule Ears

Secret Trail (3 mi.): National Park Service sign at the beginning of this trail said, "Aggressive mountain lion active in area. Do not bring small children on this trail." We can't tell you where this trail is and it's not on park maps...only a park ranger can tell you.
Ocotillo in bloom

A waterfall in the desert?
Happy hiker Susan.

Looks like a waterfall to me!
Rio Grande Village area photos: From the car, we saw a coyote chewing on a stick in a field. We then went to the Rio Grande Village Campground and hiked the 0.75 mile Nature Trail past a warm spring and up onto a plateau with a view of the surrounding area. In our opinion, this campground would be THE place to stay in Big Bend, although it would most likely be crowded during wildflower season. There is an overflow camping area (paved lot with hookups) by the little store at Rio Grande Village which would also be okay because of its convenience to Boquillas Canyon, the Nature Trail and the hot springs. 


View across Rio Grande into Mexico.

Boquillas Canyon Trail (1.4 mi.):

Looking toward the entrance to Boquillas Canyon.

In Boquillas Canyon...much cooler.
Burro in Mexico
Rio Grande
Hot Springs Trail (0.75 mi. roundtrip): The reward at the end of the day after approx. 9 miles of hiking through the desert. Bob wore his swim trunks under his hiking shorts. I didn't have a swimsuit, so only got in up to my knees. If we go back I'm definitely taking a swimsuit in the car I can change into at the hot springs!!

Swallows' nests in the cliffs.
Trail to hot springs.
Hot springs pool
Bob can't wait to get in!
View of the Rio Grande from hot springs.
We had a wonderful day hiking in Big Bend National Park. The temperature was not extreme; we had some cool breezes early in the day. There was one last place in the park I wanted to see but it was getting late: Dugout Wells.

We got to Dugout Wells at dusk/twilight. Light was fading fast. Across the road ahead of us, I thought I saw a coyote, but the tail was way too long. Bob said, "I think that was a cougar. It had the haunches and the stance of a cat." When I thought about it, I knew he was right. A cougar (aka mountain lion, puma, and in these parts, panther)!!! Cool, I had never seen one in the wild before.

Not a good idea. Whose idea was this anyway? Go to a watering hole when all the desert animals are coming out? Good way to see animals, but maybe a good way to become dinner!

We drove the loop around Dugout Wells. As we were about to exit the car, Bob said, "Hand me the camera. Quick!" I found the camera as quick as I could. He got a shot of a javelina.


More pics from Dugout Wells: 
Chihuahuan Desert at twilight
Dugout Wells landscape

It's getting darker!
We started walking the 1/2 mi. nature trail. At this point, all I can think about is the cougar out in the desert stalking us...especially since this trail headed in the same direction as the cat had. Abort! Not becoming cougar food tonight.

Our drive from the park back to Marathon (2 hours) was not without excitement. Deer dotted the sides of the roads. Bob and I were on high alert watching for four-legged mammals. Also distracting were the nighthawks swooping in front of the headlights to catch bugs. I didn't want to hit them because they were very pretty.

When we were almost back to Marathon, we stopped at a picnic area to look at the stars. Big Bend National Park has the darkest night skies in the lower 48 states and we wanted to experience it. Amazing! The Big Dipper was directly overhead. I've never seen so many stars near the Big Dipper. Wow, wow, wow.

We made it back to the 5er and two hungry cats.


  1. Wow, that was quite a whirlwind tour of Big Bend for one day! Made me tired just reading about it. Looks like you had a great time.

  2. Yeah. That's kind of the way we do things. Maybe one of these days we'll learn to relax. LOL.

  3. More great photos. I camped at Santa Elena Canyon with some friends on Christmas Eve of 1974. It was a memorable event. Thanks for bringing back great memories.

    Wrote By Rote

  4. Lee,
    Thank you for your comments. I will check out your blog as well.

    I appreciate you stopping by and subscribing.

    Hope we get to meet on the road of life.


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