Big Bend of Texas

I often wonder how places are named, but in the case of the Big Bend region of West Texas one look at the map explained all. Big Bend is located in an area where the border between Mexico and Texas actually does a big bend, thanks to the Rio Grande, which forms the border in that area.

Big Bend does not disappoint those who imagine Texas to be like the place that is portrayed in countless westerns, because that type of terrain; dusty prairies, deep canyons, cactus, dry desert complete with tumbleweeds pretty much sums up the Big Bend landscape, except that it is much better than that seen at the movies.

Ranging from Midland-Odessa in the northeast to Del Rio in the southeast Big Bend is not only scenically exciting but it is historically interesting too, particularly if you have a penchant for gunslingers, outlaws and the occasional tough lawman, such as Judge Roy Bean who dealt out justice in a way that wouldn’t be tolerated in the legal system we have today.

One of the true gems to be found here is Big Bend National Park, which forms park of the Chihuahuan Desert. The park covers 801,163 acres (1,252 sq mi; 3,242 km2 –), which is about the same size as Rhode Island, and it is rich in both flora and fauna.

The 118 miles (190 km) of river that form the southern park boundary include the spectacular canyons of Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas, which were carved by the flowing waters of the Rio Grande. The higher parts of the park form the Davis and Chisos Mountains, which is dominated by Emory Peak at 7,832 feet (2,387 m).

There has been human activity here for many millennia, with archaeologists find artefacts which date back over 9,000 years. It must have been a difficult life for those early inhabitants as the temperatures fluctuate dramatically with extremely hot temperatures experienced during summer and freezing temperatures occurring during winter.

Despite the fact that Big Bend National Park is so unique and so representative of the traditional west, it is one of the least visited of the parks in the lower 48 states. There are a number of good roads which give you access to most parts of the park, and the park also has a number of good, well-marked, walking trails which meander through the canyons and lead you across some of the higher passes, giving you ample opportunity to experience the true beauty and spectacular scenery of Big Bend National Park at your own pace.

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