Postponed to early 2020 - Big Bend Overland Trip

Mar 31, 2006
LA...the muddy movie stars here

I've been twice - once as a geology student and once to relive the beautiful scenery and go where I wanted to go. Here are my recommendations that I sent to a family member earlier this year:

*Getting there: You'll have to drive from either El Paso, Houston, or Dallas. If you're coming from the east along I-10, you'll see some wind farms atop mesas just before you get to Ft. Stockton. Also, you will travel over the Pecos River. This river has cut down into the surrounding rock (limestone) and is a cool sight! (From El Paso, it's just a bunch of oil pump jacks. Those lights in the distance are flare stacks burning off excess natural gas, not UFOs. Sorry!)

*Ft. Stockton: This is a town and a historic site. I've been and it's good to at least stop by and see the site. Pretty picturesque . *Davis Mountains: One of the volcanic mountains in this area. There is an observatory that you might want to check out, though any night out in this part of Texas affords gorgeous views of the Milky Way. I haven't seen more stars in the sky in any other location I've visited!

*Marfa/Alpine: Two little towns south of Ft. Stockton. Marfa is famous for their "lights" and they've even built a viewing center. If you don't see these ghost lights, you'll at least have a good view of the night stars! Alpine is college town is is home to Sull Ross State University, a great place to go if you are serious about geology!

*Marathon: Little town just north of Big Bend. There is a really funky bed and breakfast as well as a nice hotel in town. Stay at the B&B and eat dinner at the hotel (12 Gage Restaurant). The town is small so you can walk between the two. And before you head into the park, stop by French Co Grocer for gourmet food to go!

*Entering the park from Marathon: Look to your right as you head south to the park from Marathon. There is some spectacular folded geology that looks like it could have been a filming location for Lord of the Rings! *THE PARK: You can stay in the park to at the Chisos Mountain Lodge or camp in the pak. The Chisos Mountains are also volcanic, and easy to hike up in places. They afford a spectacular view! You'll also want to go down to the Rio Grande and see the Santa Elena Canyon. There are many trails to hike. There may be easy ones, but the several I've been on were a bit challenging. Make sure you carry enough water since refilling stations are few and far between. There are camping sites adjacent to the Chisos Mountain Lodge, as well as primitive sites. There are lights at the lodge that makes seeing the stars a bit difficult, so maybe take a flashlight so you can walk a bit down the road and get away from them somewhat.

*Adventures: I know there are several outfits that will take you on a raft down the Rio Grande. There may be horseback rides available too.

*Exit the park to the west for Terlingua: An honest to goodness Texas ghost town. There is a yearly chili contest. More Big Bend. To the west of Terlingua is Big Bend Ranch State Park.

*Volcanic Geology: If you take 118 north from Terlingua to Alpine, you'll see lots of cool and funky volcanic geology. Actually, it might be difficult not to see cool and funky volcanic geology anywhere in this area, so stop on the roadside to get out and look at the rocks close-up. You just might be mistaken for a geologist!
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