West Texas and New Mexico is mostly flat, boring, and desolate, right?
For the most part, that’s very true. But Big Bend National Park is most definitely an exception. It’s the quintessential “hidden gem.” At a staggering 801,000-plus acres, it’s one of the largest National Parks. Yet it’s also one of the least-visited ones. It is nowhere even close to a population center. Plus, the park has no Old Faithful or Mount Rushmore-type signature attraction. So, Big Bend National Park does not appear on many bucket lists. But for those travelers willing to make an effort to see it, wonders await them like nothing else they’ve ever seen. Only about half the Park is in the United States. Mexico’s Parque Nacional Cañon de Santa Elena and Maderas del Carmen make up the remainder. The Boquillas border crossing is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 6.
Biologically, the Park is incredibly diverse. Some of the highest peaks in the Southwest are juxtaposed against seemingly endless prairie. As a result, Big Bend is home to over 1,200 protected plant species, along with rare mammals, birds, and reptiles. Many of these land animals are foragers and only come out early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or at night.
Researchers have dated geological activity in the area back to the Paleozoic period, which was some five hundred million years ago. That activity, along with subsequent movements, created many of the canyons and rock formations which are spread throughout the Park.
Many visitors enjoy hiking one of the Park’s many, many trails or a trip down part of the Rio Grande River. But that’s only the beginning.