Ignoring a possible $5000 fine the big dogs waded into the Rio Grande River and headed south towards Mexico. Fortunately the Border Patrol missed seeing them as they later waded back to the US side of the river.
This post finds us still in Texas wandering hundreds of miles south of Austin into the wide open deserts and steep mountains known as the Big Bend Country.
This part of Texas is very large and remote but of course is much smaller in scale than Alaska. 🙂
We had visited Big Bend National Park back in the late 1990’s and had really enjoyed the remoteness, beauty and ruggedness of that park.
But we had always wondered what Big Bend Ranch State Park was all about.
At over 300,000 acres it is Texas’s largest State Park and also ajoins Mexico along the Rio Grande River at its southern border.
Will Rogers once described the Rio Grande as “the only river I know of that is in need of irrigating” an astute observation considering how dry this fabled river has become today.
Within the continental US the Rio Grande is nearly 1,900 miles long and is second only in length to the Mississippi River except when…. its not flowing the full length of its channel.
With current drought conditions and overuse its waters don’t always make it to the gulf.
To get to Big Bend Ranch State Park we passed through the small town of Alpine, about 60 miles to the north of the park.
This historic little town is home to the Sul Ross State University established in the 1920’s which promotes scientific research in biology, geology, agriculture and range animal science.
While driving along Alpine’s downtown streets Denise’s noticed several wonderful murals painted on the sides of buildings. After futher investigation we located many more.
In 2013 local artist Stylle Read painted murals on many of the buildings. Some are quite stunning and unique. Denise decided she needed to spend time photographing them.
Turning west at Terlingua we entered Big Bend Ranch SP and followed the river road eventually finding a remote camp spot near the rivers edge.
The big dogs enjoyed the freedom to wander at will and we savored the piece and quite which was a welcome change after living in Austin for almost two weeks.
Its easy to see why the National Geographic rates Hwy 170, the River Road, as one of the top ten motorcycle rides in America. Its stunning!
The River Road closely follows the Rio Grande from Terlingua to Presidio meandering 62 miles as it passes eroding cliffs and climbs over a 15% grade, the steepest section of paved road in Texas.
Big Bend Ranch SP is managed very differently from Big Bend National Park. Within its boundaries are several cattle ranches operated according to the principles of open range grazing.
A herd of longhorn cattle is based here, and there is a semi-annual longhorn roundup.
There are 173 miles of back roads that go deep into the ranch’s backcountry.
4X4 enthusiasts spend a good part of their time negotiating very steep and rough terrain all to end up literally at the far side of nowhere.
We spent several days wandering the back roads, exploring along the rivers edge and hiking down its slot canyons.
The Closed Canyon trail follows a deep slot canyon carved out of solid stone by eons of flash flooding.
The geologic formations along the canyon walls are very unique, but don’t expect to reach the Rio Grande River without a rope.
National Geographic also states “the Big Bend area of Texas remains one of the last true frontiers in the Lower 48” and we fully understand that statement, its big!
The time we spent in Big Bend Ranch SP proved to be an exciting, relaxing and peaceful respite. Disconnected from the barrage of bad news headlines and far from the maddening crowds reminded us of being back home in Alaska.
When one sits on the banks of the Rio Grande it becomes very hard to imagine the loss of wilderness experience and wildlife biodiversity that building any kind of wall through this pristine country would cause.
This most certainly will not be our last visit to this vast and beautiful part of the country. This landscape calls to us.
Slip in your Airpods, crank up the stereo, hook up the Apple TV but don’t miss our latest video “Far Side Of Nowhere” Enjoy!
Next we head west to rendezvous with friends in the desert… keep you posted.