American Locations 7 – Big Bend National Park

The trip is from Natchez Trace, Tennessee, to Dodge City, Kansas, by way of Tucson, Arizona.

Big Bend National Park, Texas


We drove west on Interstate 10 from Sonora to Fort Stockton. This Texas city has two claims to fame. One is it owns the largest roadrunner statue in the world.

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The other is its position as the northern gateway to Big Bend National Park. We spent the night at a private campground just off I-10. It was one of the few campgrounds we stayed at which had a good sit-down restaurant. Early the next morning we drove south on Hwy 385, passing through the small town of Marathon, and continued south into Big Bend.

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Soon after entering the park we were advised by a ranger to bypass the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center because it was swamped with visitors. So we drove on south into the park. Big Bend gets its name from how the Rio Grande River makes some sharp turns through deep narrow canyons in this area. The park is mostly desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, except for the Chisos Mountains in the middle of it.

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Which means there are a lot of cactus.

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And more cactus.

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And then there is cactus.

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You get the idea.

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We stopped at the next visitor center, as advised, and it wasn’t nearly as busy. Panther Junction Visitor Center is at the intersection of Park Rte. 12, which continues south, and Gano Springs Road, which connects to the central and western reaches of Big Bend. We continued south on Park Rte. 12.

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These are the Chisos Mountains in the background

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There is only one paved road heading south, but there are numerous gravel roads off of it taking you deep into the desert.

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And also hiking trails.

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Which lead to interesting rock formations.

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After stopping several times to hike trails and admire scenic vistas, we continued driving south on Park Rte. 12.

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After a very pleasurable day, we arrived at the Rio Grande River, the southern border of our country.

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