Big Bend Is A Huge National Park
We expected to take a single day trip to Big Bend National Park. It did not take long for us to realize that the park lives up to its name. It is huge, and so we decided to stick around to spend as much time as needed to explore. Big Bend is beautiful and borders the Rio Grande River for a significant stretch. Currently we are staying in Marthon, TX, which is about 70 miles away, but I do think we will end up camping at one of the campgrounds in the national park and venture into Boquillas, Mexico.
Persimmon Gap To Panther Junction
We entered Big Bend National Park from the north at Persimmon Gap. The costs is $25 for a 7 day pass, but we have an annual pass. You need to consider buying an annual pass if you will be visiting more than a few national parks within the same year. Our first detour from the main road was onto Dagger Flat Auto Trail. This road was gravel and a bit washboard like but passable. We turned around shortly after Old Ore Road. Beware that driving Old Ore Road requires a 4×4 & high clearance vehicle. We carry tire zip ties (affiliate link), a tow strap (affiliate link), and traction boards (affiliate link) in case we get stuck. Our next stop would be the Fossil Discovery Exhibit.
Fossil Discovery Exhibit
The west Texas desert was underwater many years ago. The dinosaurs roamed, and the sea life was abundant. They have found several fossils in Big Bend National Park. Here is a quick virtual tour below:
Panther Junction Visitor Center
Panther Junction is the park headquarters. This is a very nice visitor station in Big Bend National Park. Here you can get your permits for things such as horseback riding or back country camping. The rangers here were very informative, the gift shop is extensive, and there are some interactive exhibits. We have a national parks passport book (affiliate link) that we get stamped at these stations to keep a log.
Terlingua Ghost Town & Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
From there we went to the ghost town of Terlingua. This is actually just outside Big Bend National Park. We ate fajitas at High Sierra Bar & Grill. The fajitas were very good, especially paired with the $2.50 Blue Moon beer special they had. Our waitress was excellent and very informative as well. You can also stay at their hotel here, or the town has some teepees you can rent on airbnb.com.
We then went to the small trading post and hung out with some of the locals. They have a small art studio there was well as The Starlight Theater Restaurant & Saloon where we enjoyed a beer. The Starlight Theater’s menu looked good, and they often have live music so I think we will be back.
We wanted to drive back on Ross Maxwell Drive looping back to The Window Trail for sunset. Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight shortly after leaving Terlingua. So we drove back to our current base at Marathon Hotel & RV Park dodging the local wildlife along the way.
Time Elapsed Drive Through Big Bend National Park
Below is a map and video of the route we took on day 1. We did not see a ton of wildlife during the day. We saw rabbits and had a coyote run in front of us. However, at night we had to drive slow because of deer, antelope, & what we think may have been an armadillo. Unfortunately, our camera does not have night vision so we were not recording. We will likely be back in Big Bend National Park next week to explore more of the park.
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