Big Canyons, Hot Springs, And A Little Taste Of Mexico In Big Bend National ParkPosted on Feb 28, 2013 | 8 comments
We are officially in love with America's National Parks.
There are times on this grand journey of ours where we get tired, frustrated, and just sick of seeing all the golden arches and pharmacies that decorate the highways of America. But then, just when it seems we have had our fill of road-tripping, we find ourselves again being pulled back to travel by these great, natural parks.
Eyeballing a map of Texas - with highways that run steady for nearly 1,000 miles - we become intimidated.
Yeah, we could go to Big Bend National Park, but it's like an 8 hour drive in each direction. The closest grocery is about 3 hours away, the nearest town has been deserted for 70 years, and it's going to be literally freezing at night. We always try and do our best to find ways not to make the hard journey, but in the end . . .
Once we arrive at a great, unique, open, free, natural park like Big Bend, we quickly remember that there really are no good reasons to avoid experiencing places like this.
Before 9/11, Mexican residents from the bordering town of Boquillas del Carmen used to cross the narrow river in row boats and take tourists over into the village for lunch and some tours. Now, those days are gone. And for the residents of this isolated town of about 100 people, times are hard. Imagine one day you wake up and all your customers are gone. Tough.
The people of Boquillas have found creative ways to stay alive and put food on the table.
Now, it's easy to be cynical, but the truth is that these guys are really just doing what they have to do. When someone asks you for a piece of your sandwich, I think it's safe to assume they are truly hungry.
The border has been scheduled to open up for crossings on foot for years, but the waiting is hard. The US does not allow any purchase of goods or services from vendors in an attempt to discourage crossings at the border - even though the nearest anything is about 100 miles away. Times here are tough, and I won't claim to know anything about immigration or politics, but it sure seems like that border crossing would benefit a lot of people. And when that happens, I'll be shooting over to Boquillas.
The canyon itself is a gem. The water is shallow, cool, and lined with sand dunes and caves. Our littlest guy found an arrowhead and he went nuts! And we found ancient mortar holes that were used by nomads to grind out beans and seeds along the Rio Grande.
The Hot Springs Trail
Here you'll get a chance to see real history. There are ancient pictograms and petroglyphs that date back as far as 8,000 BC! Hard to believe people were living on these trails that long ago.
And of course we have the hot springs! Back in the early 1900's this area was essentially a spa. You came down here to soak up the healing powers of the springs. Today, the area is pretty much in ruins, but the springs work just like they did 100 years ago. You can sit in them all day and then cool off in the Rio Grande. You can even walk 20 paces across the river to Mexico if you want.
We really only spent a day in Big Bend National Park. The nights were cold for campers, and we had to get a move on. But look at all we learned and experienced in a day. Very quickly we are learning that there is no National Park that is too far or too remote for us to explore. We are looking to see more parks like Big Bend down the road.
Last Stop: The Florida Keys
You can follow our complete North American Journey here.
And see all the gear we're taking with us here.
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