Big Bend National Park, Thanksgiving 2016 (part 2)


Oct 27, 2013
Nov 26-27, 2016

(previous part here: )

We started Saturday the same way we had the previous day, with watching the sunrise.

Quick stop at the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook to see the walls glowing in the early morning sun.IMG_9123.JPG

Beautiful inversion in the valley around the Chisos Mountains. We had driven through the clouds in the basin, then suddenly broke free into clear air as the road ascended. I caught this remnant before the clouds fully dissipated. IMG_9136.JPG

We set off on our long hike of the trip: up Pinnacles trail, to Boot Spring and Boot Canyon trails, to the Northeast Rim trail, Southeast Rim trail, Southwest Rim trail, and out Laguna Meadow trail.

Texas Madrone shedding its bark

A bit of fall color IMG_9156.JPG

Why did the tarantula cross the trail? IMG_9168_crop.jpg

Boot CabinIMG_9171.JPG

More fall colors

Mmmm...that water looks tasty.

Deer crossing.

Out of the forest, into the meadow.

Stunning views from the rim. IMG_9198.JPG

Lunch with a view, convenient rocks to sit along the rim just to the left of the tree. IMG_9204_crop.jpg


More rim views IMG_9238.JPG

The late afternoon light was quickly fading, but we stopped to linger just a little bit longer. With the short amount of sunlight, we had planned for hiking out in the dark, so might as well enjoy the hard-earned view.


Perfectly placed tree.

Lime green lichen. IMG_9274.JPG

Glowing rocks in the distance. IMG_9286.JPG

Sunset on the trail IMG_9293.JPG

And one more sunset picture further down the trail before I finally put my camera away for good and we got down to the business of hiking out in the dark. Final estimated mileage for the day with our backtracking and side trips to look at stuff: ~18 miles. IMG_9301.JPG

Sunday dawned bright and early. After the long hike the previous day, nobody else had the energy to get up early to go watch the sunrise at our usual spot. The early morning view from camp was still beautiful though. Cottonwood Campground was great; nice and quiet with no generators allowed, and large grassy sites with room for multiple tents and some distance from the neighbors.

It was time to pack up and go home, but with a few more short stops in the park to stretch our legs before we left.

Chisos Mountains, from Tuff Canyon Overlook

View back to Santa Elena Canyon, from Tuff Canyon Overlook IMG_9323.JPG

Human shadow puppets on the Tuff Canyon walls IMG_9334.JPG

Beauty and the Beast IMG_9336.JPG

Mule Ears (or Batman's winter home)IMG_9338.JPG

Burro Mesa. That pink layer is volcanic rock thickening into the basin, not sandstone as I would usually assume.IMG_9346.JPG

Burro Mesa Pouroff, spider-monkeys for scale

Looking back towards the pouroff

Pink volcanics filling the undulations in the underlying topography IMG_9373.JPG

And one last picture as we left the park. Goodbye, Big Bend! IMG_9376.JPG


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That makes me want to go there, especially on this -22 C ( well below zero F ) Alberta morning!
We have friends who have been down that way a couple times in spring, but they are mainly birders and not photographers, so it is especially nice to see your images.
The "no generators" in that one campground caught my eye also. They are a scourge in most NP campgrounds and are the reason we will never again stay in Fruita at Capitol Reef, to use one example, after having what should be peaceful breakfasts and dinners marred by the sounds of generators.
Beautiful place. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see a picture of the hot spring.
Big Bend is on my to-do list. I'm hoping to cross it off in 2018. I had to chuckle about your comment on the "Mighty Rio Grande". Having grown up near it in New Mexico, I'm actually a little surprised to see water in it. From El Paso north to nearly the Colorado border It was usually dry from irrigation demands except during the spring snowpack melt off. Really enjoyed seeing your pictures.
Yes Big Bend is special! Thanks for the trip report for it brings back some wonderful memories. I visited Big Bend many years ago with some friends and loved it. I so much need to make a return trip there one of these days. Wishing You the Best!
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