The trip is from Natchez Trace, Tennessee, to Dodge City, Kansas, by way of Tucson, Arizona.
Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, Texas
There are three campgrounds at Big Bend. We were staying in the one on the east side of the park and we were intending to stay on the one on the west side. The one in the middle of the park was full and we couldn’t get into it. So we drove to see it. There are so many interesting rock formations along the way it was an interesting drive.
Which soon became much more interesting. This campground was different from the other two. Rio Grande Village and Cottonwood, the one on the west side, are on the Rio Grande River, while this one is up in the mountains. You can get an idea how high up it is from this picture, with the desert floor far below the mountain the road is on. These mountains don’t emerge from foothills, they rise up from the flat desert floor. So the ascent is steep. Which made it a fun drive, climbing quickly kickback after kickback, one hairpin turn after another, as we got higher and higher, and of course there are no guardrails, run a tire off the road and you are hanging off the side of the mountain. I had a lot of fun drives during our trip. This was only the first of many.
The campground and the lodge – this was the only campground of the three to have a lodge – sat down in a bowl ringed by mountaintops.
Those tiny structures in the center of the picture above is Chisos Basin Campground. In the photo below the little building on the left is the lodge. It isn’t fancy, but it has a restaurant. I and my wife ate lunch there.
That’s where I saw the map. There was a large trail map posted on the wall detailing all the hiking trails through the mountains. On the map locations and dates were indicated where and when black bears and mountain lions had been reported encountered by hikers. There were several dozen of each, and that was just during the last few months. I’ve seen brown bears in the Smokey Mountains. But I have never seen a black bear or a mountain lion in the wild. Gazing at the map, it seemed they were plentiful in the mountains in central Big Bend. So I had no desire to go hiking up there, and my wife had less desire than me.
Still, after lunch we took a short hike.
Which ended at a vista onto a rock formation called The Window.
We could look out through a gap in the mountains that ringed the campground and see the desert floor. You get a better perspective of how high we were from a close-up of the same view.
After that we began the drive back down the mountains to return to the desert floor.
The Next Location is Cottonwood Campground in Big Bend National Park, Texas.