With winter temperatures creeping in under the front door, snow flurries freezing the back of my neck and the winter sun not quite warm enough, it became time to fly (ride) South with the Canada Geese. The Chihuahuan Desert had been good to us before so maybe it will again.
For hikers, birders, photographers, snowbirds and Adventure Motorcycle Riding, Big Bend National Park could be the number one winter destination. More than 1,200 square miles of undeveloped land beckoned, with endless miles of trails, back country 4 wheel drive roads and duel-sport routes.
So the plan hatched into a full fledged Southerly assault. Provisions were gathered, tires kicked, stove turned off and the cat kicked out. The open road and the desert sand caoxed, not with a whisper but a guttural grunt. CJ on her 2007 F 650 GS, and myself on my trusted airhead steed (Zed), a 1992 R 100 GS carrying not everything I wanted, but everything I needed, plus about 25 pounds of camera gear.
We found the Texas roads to be some of the most unwrinkled, unruffled and silky avenues South that any Adventure Motorcycle Rider could hope for.
(click on images to enlarge)
Terlingua, Texas is a mining town located near the Rio Grande and the villages of Lajitas and Study Butte. Due to it’s proximity to Big Bend, today it’s mostly a tourist destination for park visitors.
Your can’t visit Big Bend without getting your toes wet in the 4th longest river in North America. During our last visit, beta from a local directed us to a little know hot spring at the edge of it’s waters and as with our last visit, not a soul was there. We had it all to ourselves.
The Glenn Spring Road skirts the East side of the Chisos Mountains, then “bounces” over the Chilicotal Mountain to Glenn Spring. It was named for W.J. Glenn who surveyed the area in 1881.
The oasis created by the spring was both then and now a critical water source for all residents of the desert. A candelilla wax factory was constructed here in 1914 and with that came a population of desert folks, general store and post office. They suffered through not only the harsh environment but a few pillaging and burning raids by some of Poncho Villa’s men in 1917. So now little remains.
Back country camping in the Chihuahuan Desert is an adventure itself. It’s really easy to amass all the needed provisions like food, water, first aid, camping gear, motorcycle tools, spare this & that, clothing for temps ranging from below freezing (at night) and 70’s (during the day) but getting this all on a motorcycle is the real challenge. The water alone we carried weighed in at 48 pounds. Well worth the effort as evident from the image below.
We didn’t hike many of the established trails, it seems that game trails have more lure than the pedestrian super slabs. The following image was from the hike to our “secret” hot spring and represents the true low elevation desert. The Rio Grande was only 30 meters to my left when I captured this image.
We rode the silky smooth pavement of the park shooting video, checking out the scenic overlooks and generally poking around. The Boquillas Canyon Overlook is a popular spot for both tourist and Mexican Nationals. I ask if the Border Patrol gave him any grief and he succinctly stated “no” and after being there a while it was obvious that they crossed back and forth across the international border unconcerned and undisturbed. Bring your passport when you visit the park because it is now legal to visit the Mexican town of Boquillas.
It may be legal to cross into Mexico to visit Boquillas and play tourist, shopping, eating and drinking but the crafts that are strategically placed at the overlooks and trail heads are not legal to purchase. What’s up with that?
Hiking in the park you should possess a few essentials like water (the river is not potable), good shoes, snacks and a small first aid. Stay alert and vigilant for snakes, yes they are the rattling kind. There are cougar and black bear sighting weekly. The Mexican town of Boquillas can be seen in the background of the following image.
J.O. Langford homesteaded here at the confluence of Tornillo Creek and the Rio Grande in 1890 and built a small health spa using the hot spring waters. He left in 1942 after selling his land to the US government for inclusion in the new Big Bend National Park.
(click on any image to enlarge & then scroll through the gallery)
Be sure to visit: http://britt-runyon.artistwebsites.com/index.html