Monday, January 30, 2006

Two Suggestions: Before you go to the National Park

If you're not familiar with the Big Bend area, there are two great ways to familiarize yourself with the natural history of the area.

This weekend, I took an excellent jeep tour through Far Flung Outdoor Center in Terlingua. Our guide, Elizabeth, took us on a thoroughly enjoyable three hour tour, telling us about the geology, botany, zoology, history, and prehistory of the area. This would be a great activity for a family, or a group with a variety of fitness levels.

Visiting the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center near Lajitas is another excellent way to learn about the Big Bend area before going to the National Park or the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Center presents the archaeological, historical, and natural history profile of the Big Bend area, plus it has a gift and bookshop and desert garden. You can also buy camping and river use permits and licenses for the state park in the Center's administrative offices.

Monday, January 23, 2006

South Rim View - Big Bend National Park

Hikers wanting to tackle the moderately challenging 13+ mile round trip from the Basin to the South Rim will be richly rewarded with views like these!
This and other great hikes in the Big Bend National Park are outlined here:

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ruidosa Adobe

At the end of the Pinto Canyon road (Hwy 2810) you come to Ruidosa and this stunning 1914 adobe Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. The Texas Historical Commission and others have provided resources for the stabilization of the structure, but there's still need for restoration of this beautiful church.

For more information:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rock Art

Short vocabulary lesson:
Pictographs--designs painted on rock by ancient peoples
Petroglyphs--designs carved or pecked into rock

Recently, it was my good fortune to tag along on one of Red Rock Ranch's Rock Art Hikes. Wow, what a terrific time! Not only does the Ranch have rock art on its own property (a detail of a deer pictograph from the 1400s, right), but they also have exclusive permission to take visitors to one of the Southwest's largest and oldest collections of petroglyphs just 20 minutes from Van Horn. I was shown petroglyphs of human, animal and plant forms, as well as geometrics and calendaring systems, made as far back as 2,500 years ago.

I most enjoyed seeing how the artists used the bumps and fissures in the rocks to accentuate their drawings. The deer's eye (above) is easy to see because of a protrusion in the rock, and the jawline is partially defined by a ridge on the surface.

The hikes were easy and gentle, and seeing the designs made by people centuries ago was a powerful experience.

For more information, contact Red Rock Ranch Tours in Van Horn.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Great Drive!

If you want to travel from Marfa to Presidio, let me suggest an alternative beautiful and exciting drive! Climb into your high clearance four-wheel drive and bring lots of water, and get ready for a truly spectacular time by going through Pinto Canyon.

Instead of taking Hwy 67 directly from Marfa, take Hwy 2810 through Pinto Canyon, and down to Ruidosa. The road is rough and bumpy in spots, but well worth the effort. You'll pass through private land, so please respect the landowner's property and follow the signs by keeping to the road.

Recently, it took us a little less than two hours to make the trip from Marfa to Ruidosa, where we stopped to view an old adobe church waiting for reconstruction and renovation. From Ruidosa, you can turn east on Hwy 170 for another wild, but fully paved, drive to Presidio. Have a great time!