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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bend National Park in Texas

Bend National Park is one of the largest and remote, national parks in the continental U.S. state of Texas. With three different ecosystems, continuous views, and great landscapes, Big Bend leaves you feeling like stumble. The landscape is living evidence which is formed over millions of years by volcanism, erosion, and enormous seismic events, it also still holds number of dinosaur fossils and aquatic beings from when the area was surrounded by an prehistoric deep sea.
The name of Big Bend National Park is for huge left U-turn Rio Grande as the river bends its way throughout the Southwest Texas desert making a natural boundary with Mexico and giving the state its distinctive bottom shape. It is covered in 801,163 acres nearly 324,219 hectares. The Rio Grande in Spanish for "Big River", in Mexico it is called Rio Bravo del Norte or just Rio Bravo, meaning "Wild River" flows south and east from its origin in Colorado

The park's geography is categorized into three distinct environments desert, mountain, and river. The greater part of Big Bend National Park includes Chihuahuan Desert, crossed by dry creek beds, washes and the occasional spring. Sprouting from the desert are numerous hills, mountains, and rock formations most of which are limestone others are of volcanic origin.

Big Bend's primary attraction is its hiking and backpacking trails. Particularly notable are the Chimneys Trail, which visits a rock formation in the desert, the Marufo Vega trail, a ring track that passes through scenic canyons on the way to and from the Rio Grande, and the Outer Mountain Loop trail in the Chisos, which begins in the Chisos Basin, climbs into the high mountains, descends into the desert along the Dodson Trail, and then returns to the Chisos Basin, completing a thirty mile loop. Other notable locations are Santa Elena Canyon, Grapevine Hills, and the Mule Ears, two imposing rock towers in the middle of the desert.

Big Bend National Park is sacred with collection of plant and animal life. In the desert grow succulents such as lechuguilla a type of agave, yuccas like the giant dagger species, prickly pear, ocotillo, candellila, and stool. The famous century plant or Havard agave which only blooms once in a lifetime and then dies. The best time of year to see the gorgeous cactus blooms is March and April and the mountains are another great place to see wildflowers.

Big Bend is one of the best bird-watching areas in the country, as many birds pass through here along migratory routes more than 450 species. The Chisos Basin is a great place for bird watching, but the best place is considered next to the river, such as near Rio Grande Village and Cottonwood Campground. Among the countless species, you can see roadrunners, woodpeckers, cardinals, quail, flycatchers, herons, hummingbirds, cliff swallows, owls, hawks, golden eagles, vultures, and peregrine falcons.

A great variety of animals make their home here, such as pig like javelinas which is closely related to hippopotamus, mule deer, jackrabbits, skunks, raccoons, rock squirrels, kangaroo rats, coyote, foxes, and, in the mountains, rare black bears, mountain lions , and white-tailed deer. They are all shy, but you have a good chance of seeing them along roadways or even in the developed areas, especially starting at sunset.

The weather is mostly hot and dry, with low humidity and cooler nights. July through October is the rainy season, where sudden rains and consequently flash floods are possible. The rain usually doesn't last long and the water drains away quickly. Thunderstorms make for an epic spectacle and may lead to rare sights, such as Pine Canyon Falls. The weather here can be significantly different from nearby areas; it might be overcast and rainy in nearby Alpine but clear and sunny in the park, so don't get too discouraged by local condition.

There are five covered roads in Big Bend. Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction is a 28-mile/ 45 km road from the north entrance of the park to park headquarters at Panther Junction. Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village is a 21-mile/4 km road that descends 2,000 feet / 610 m from the park headquarters at Panther Junction to the Rio Grande River. Maverick Entrance Station to Panther Junction is a 23-mile/37 km route from the western entrance of the park to the park headquarters. Chisos Basin Road is 6 miles/10 km long and climbs to 5,679 feet/1,731 m above sea level at Panther Pass before descending into the Chisos Basin. The thirty-mile (48 km) Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive leads to the Castolon Historic District and Santa Elena Canyon.

The busy season is from mid November through the first of week of January and again during Spring Break, when local college students visit which is on mid March to April. Plan on spending at least one full day in the park, there is more than enough here for longer stays.

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