May 13, 2022 Study Butte, TX Day 4

Happy Friday the 13th! I get to use my new camera today for the first time. Woo-hoo! The sky was blue and the temp was 86 degrees to start our drive into Big Bend National Park.

We were on the same park road as yesterday for part of our drive, but when we got to the Chisos Basin turnoff, we kept going all the way to the Rio Grande Village. We left at 10:30 and ran into road construction again.

Today, construction was starting closer to town, but our friendly flag lady was there again and she was happy to see us. After about 15 minutes of chatting, we were again on our way. The new part of our drive today was just as beautiful. It takes awhile to appreciate the beauty of browns, tans, and lots of cactus, but it has a beauty all its own.

We passed Panther Junction Visitor Center where they had gas and a small store.

The road wound through the mountains and over the flatlands.

We passed over an elevated section of road that took us over a “wash” from the Rio Grande River. Some of the washes are HUGE and you have to wonder what they would be like if they were filled with water.

As we neared the Rio Grande Overlook, we came upon a tunnel through the mountain.

It was truly a work of art.

We finally arrived at the road to Rio Grande Village which includes gas, a store, Visitor Center, and two campgrounds. The Visitor Center was closed for the summer season.

We wanted to check out the RV campground. We had read about it and wanted to see what it was like.

This is the only campground in the park for larger RVs over 24 feet. The only trouble is, it’s at the very end of the road in the farthest corner of the park. Some of the roads are winding and narrow and may not be good for larger RVs.

There were 8 campers there. It is well-equipped with electric, water, and sewer and has lots of nice trees and shade. You have to wonder if it might get flooded from the river at high stage. We went on further to the boat launch to try and get a better glimpse of the river.

It was located at the picnic area where we stopped to eat our lunch. Auggie got to spend some well-needed time on the grass.

There were signs to warn of Javelinas and there were animal droppings on the ground to prove that they had been there recently. We kept our eyes open for any signs that they might still be around.

While we ate our lunch, Bob spotted these dung beetles in the grass.

They are industrious little creatures. We watched them create these little balls of dung and then 2 of them would roll the dung ball to their home.

I looked it up and they use the dung as food or breeding chambers. They have quite a system. One climbs on top of the ball and the other stays on the ground. The top one rolls the ball while the other one holds on and them he takes his turn in rolling the ball when he ends up on the top. They work in cooperation with one another,

That’s probably more than you wanted to know about dung beetles, but they were very interesting. We must have watched them for 20 minutes while we ate our lunch. The picnic area had signs to watch out for coyotes too. I guess the wildlife likes to hang out near the river. That makes sense! From there, we proceeded to the Boquillas Canyon Overlook.

The road took us down to the water level and past the high canyon walls.

At the overlook, we found this collection of handicraft for sale, but no one was there.

It was an honor system with directions how to pay, shown on the money box chained to the ground.

From that overlook, we could look down the river in both directions.

Mexico was just across the river and we could see this canoe sitting on the bank there. Hmmmm!

All around this area, this species of cactus was in bloom. It is a Strawberry Pitaya with magenta flowers and fruit that tastes and smells like strawberries. It was beautiful!

Looking across the river to Mexico, we could see this town, Boquillas, on the other side.

It just so happens that this is a Port of Entry–Bouquillas Crossing.

We drove down this dirt road which brought us to the Border Crossing Station for the Border Patrol.

When we got there, we went no further.

According to 2 ladies that we talked to who were getting ready to cross the border, you pay $5 to take a small rowboat across the river to the Mexican town of Boquillas Del Carmen. You can also wade across the river, but only here at Boquillas Crossing, It is not recommended if the river level is high. Once you get to the other side, it is a 1/4 mile walk to the village or you can pay an additional fee to go by burro, horse, or in a vehicle. People go across the border to shop in this little town. It also has 2 small restaurants and a bar. We didn’t have our passports and we had Auggie with us, so we couldn’t go, but it would have been interesting. We left there and went back through the tunnel where we came across a biker pedaling up the hill. You have to really want to do it!

We had one more stop to make at the Historic Hot Springs.

It was 1.4 miles on the dirt road which became a shelf road through the canyon–one lane in each direction on a ledge with a deep gully in the center. Not Bob’s favorite kind of road, but he did great!

At the Hot Springs area, we found ruins, beautifully preserved. In 1909, J.Q Langford, a man who was suffering from malaria, developed a rustic riverside resort so that others could experience the healing waters of the natural springs located there. We found his house, Post Office and store, a motorcourt, and of course, the hot springs were there about a mile away.

Home
Post office and store

Motorcourt

We didn’t come prepared to hike the mile long trail to the hot springs having Auggie with us, so we just looked around. The river was pretty dry in this area.

These palm trees must have been transplanted here.

The shelf road back was just as scary.

Sometimes you can see different things going in the other direction, as we did with this interesting rock formation.

It was quite a long drive back from the farthest reaches of the park. We could see rain in the valley. It was a welcome sight!

We got a few sprinkles on the way back, but nothing much. We tried to drive up into this yurt village called The Local Chapter on the outskirts of town, but it was a private road. No trespassing! No problem! We read that these were custom-built yurts built as permanent homes. We could see the yurts from the road below as they sat on the top of the bluff.

We came back to the bus, made a few phone calls, and then left for dinner around 4:30. We were hungry and went to eat at the High Sierra Restaurant and Bar in Terlingua.

It was not what we expected inside, but we were tired and the food and service were good. We really laughed at this sign on the wall.

I had the chicken quesadilla and Bob had the beef fajitas. We were back at the bus by 5:30 to feed Auggie and wait for it to cool off before taking our walk. The sun set and we relaxed after a busy day. Tomorrow we’ll get an even earlier start to do the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon–one of the most beautiful canyons on the Rio Grande River. (Sorry for the delay in this post. We had a busy day yesterday and had to take a break.)

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