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Ep. 119: Big Bend National Park | Texas RV travel camping


Hey friends, welcome back to Grand
Adventure! I’m your host Marc Guido, and in this episode we are deep in the
Chihuahuan Desert in the tiny town of Lajitas, in the Big Bend area of West Texas.
We’re right along the Rio Grande, hard against the Mexican border. and we’re right outside the West Gate of Big Bend National Park. We’re
going to bring you to see all of this in this episode, so stay tuned! We’re deep in the Chihuahuan Desert, the
second largest desert in North America. We’re right on the Mexican border on the
banks of the Rio Grande River in the Big Bend area of beautiful West Texas. Before
we bring you into the National Park, our regular viewers may be surprised to
learn that we’re staying in the Maverick Ranch RV Park on the grounds of the 28,000-acre Lajitas Golf Resort. With cell service a scarce commodity in the
Big Bend area, we need reliable RV park Wi-Fi to be able to work from the road
during our visit. We’ve looked at the numerous RV parks in the Lajitas and
Terlingua areas during our stay, and we’re confident that Maverick Ranch is by far
the nicest of them all. Pull-through sites with full hookups here it cost $270 per week. The RV park’s clubhouse is spacious and
inviting. It houses a large laundry facility as well as a welcoming swimming
pool that’s actually chilled in summer. Zoe’s loving Maverick Ranch’s dog run,
mere feet from our RV site. Maverick Ranch is part of Lajitas
Golf Resort, home to the 18-hole Blackjack’s Crossing, designed by PGA Hall
of Fame golfer Lanny Wadkins. The resort offers sporting clays, a cowboy action
shoot, family horseback rides at their Equestrian Center, a zipline and other
activities. We couldn’t be happier with our choice
of Maverick Ranch RV Park while visiting the Big Bend area of Texas. Well I, guess that this resort owned
Airport is international if you fly to Mexico, which is right … over … there. The Chihuahuan Desert mainly consists of
basins, interrupted by numerous small barren mountain ranges. We’re here during
the desert’s only rainy period, the monsoon season when the prevailing
westerly winds shift to from the south, allowing tropical moisture to stream
northward directly from the Gulf of California.
Maverick Ranch RV Park is located only about 20 miles from the Maverick
Junction entrance at the west end of Big Bend National Park. This National Park is
massive, encompassing 801,000 acres, the largest protected area of Chihuahuan
Desert topography and ecology in the United States. It includes approximately
118 miles of America’s national boundary with Mexico
along the Rio Grande, designated a Wild and Scenic River. The park’s climate may
be characterized as one of extremes:. Dry and hot late spring and summer days
often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the lower elevations. Winters are
normally mild, but sub-freezing temperatures occasionally occur. Because
of the range in altitude from about 1,800 feet along the river to nearly
8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, a wide variation in available moisture and
temperature exists throughout the park. The first Spanish explorers reached this
region around the year 1535. Following the end of the Mexican-American War in
1848, the US Army made military surveys of the uncharted land of the Big Bend,
and ranchers began to settle the area around 1880. In 1933 the Texas
legislature established Texas Canyons State Park. Later that year the park was
redesignated Big Bend State Park. The state of Texas later deeded the land to
the federal government, and in 1944 Big Bend National Park became a reality. Big
Bend is one of the largest most remote and one of the least visited national
parks in the contiguous United States, averaging just over 350,000 visitors
annually. That’s instantly propelled this park
into one of our favorites. We’re also here at the tail end of the low season,
as most visits occur during the winter months. As a result, we’re seeing few cars
on the road and even fewer parked at even the most popular trailheads in the
park. The park is home to coyote, gray fox, and black bears, as well as countless
jackrabbits, road runners and javelinas, which resemble a wild pig even though
they’re not closely related. About two dozen cougars live within the parks
boundaries as well. Meep meep! Settlements surrounding Boquillas
resulted from mining operations in the Big Bend area. It’s here that the park’s
Rio Grande Village stands today with a seasonal visitor center, camp store, gas
station, and picnic area. Campers will find two campgrounds here: one that’s dry
camping, and the other with RV hookups, although the hookup campground is more
of a paved parking lot than anything else.
Nightly rates begin at $36 per night in the campground with full
hookups, or $14 per night for one of the 100 sites in the dry campground, with a
dump station at the entrance. Forty-three of those sites are reservable during the
high season, but as you can see during the low season there’s no difficulty
securing a site. We’re at the trailhead for Boquillas Canyon where a short hike
offers excellent views of the Rio Grande as it enters the spectacular canyon’s
1,300 foot walls. Those travelers carrying a passport,
enhanced driver’s license or passport card may pass through the pedestrian
port of entry to cross the river in a rowboat to have lunch in the Mexican
town of Boquillas del Carmen, paying a Mexican local five dollars to
be ferried across, and then either walking or paying an additional fee for
a donkey or vehicle ride into town. J.O. Langford homesteaded on this land
in 1909, and built a bathhouse and more surrounding these hot springs.
Unfortunately, border troubles related to the Mexican Revolution forced the
Langfords to abandon their home not long after they had built it. They
returned in 1927, and with the advent of the automobile they added a store, post
office and motor court. With the closest post office for many miles, the area
became a major center for the widespread community of farmers and homesteaders.
People traveled for nearly a hundred miles on either side of the border
to retrieve their mail from the Hot Springs post office, and brought with
them many things to sell and trade at the community market that soon developed
there. In 1942 Langford sold his land to the state of Texas, two years prior to
the establishment of the National Park. Normally the spring is contained by the
foundation remains of Langford’s once impressive bathhouse on the north bank
of the Rio Grande. Today, however, much to our disappointment the 105-degree
mineral water has been flooded by the raging waters of the Rio Grande. Travelers climbing the Chisos Basin
Road experience the transition between arid desert and cooler mountain habitats,
as this scenic winding road rises over 2,000 feet above the desert floor. This
is the park’s bear and mountain lion country. Within the Chisos Basin area is a
visitor center, lodge, restaurant, gift shop, camp store, miles of hiking trails,
and a cooler campground at 5,400 feet of elevation. Sixty sites are available for $14
per night with generator hours limited. Trailers over 20 feet, and RVs over 24
feet are not recommended due to the narrow, winding road to the basin, and
small campsites in this campground. A trip on the Ross Maxwell Scenic
Drive highlights the geologic splendor Big Bend his famous for it offers many
scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. Cottonwood Campground is a quiet, shady
desert oasis located between the Castelon Historic District and the
scenic Santa Elena Canyon. Open year-round, 24 dry campsites cost $14
per night ,and no generators are allowed. Pit toilets, running water, grills and
picnic tables are provided, but there is no dump station here. We had hoped to
bring you back via the Old Maverick Road, but after the recent heavy rainfall the
road is temporarily closed. It’s here that park visitors may also opt to try their
luck for one of a number of primitive roadside campsites. So, we truly hope that
you’ve enjoyed coming along with us to Big Bend National Park. We’re going to
stay here for another episode, and next week we’re going to be visiting Big
Bend Ranch State Park, and checking out some of the property here at Maverick
Ranch, so if you’re not yet a Grand Adventure now’s the time: smack that
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