Monday, March 17, 2014

Big Bend National Park to Marfa

Day three in Big Bend brought some cool weather, clouds, dust, and windy conditions.  It was 55 degrees down by the Rio Grande and our plan was to spend the day hiking up in the Chisos Basin which is at 5,400 ft.

Chisos Mountains
We drove 20 miles up to Panther Junction and checked in with the ranger.  What you see is what its going to be like, she said.  I asked about the temperature in Chisos Basin.  It was 37, with sleet and some snow.  That was enough to scuttle our plans for the day.  Chisos would have to wait for a return visit.  It was the only part left that I wanted to see so we decided to leave early and take the scenic river road from Terlingua to Presidio and then end up in Marfa for the night. An easy 150 miles. Here's some parting shots of Big Bend.

Sierra del Carmen Mountains in Mexico

Rio Grande Village Campground
The Mrs wading in the Rio Grande in Boquillas Canyon
Sunset over the Rio Grande

It took 26 miles to get out of the park to Terlingua.  There's not much in Terlingua, which looked like a mining town with lots of tailing piles.  Then it was 17 more miles to Lajitas on the border by the river.

The 50 miles of Rt 170 along the river were spectacular.  On my left was Mexico for the whole route. There were lots of twists and turns and ups and downs on this narrow road that hugs the Rio Grande.  It took two hands on the wheel and lots of downshifting but it is a very scenic road.  I shot video of the road but here's a couple of pictures.

We made it Marfa by 5 pm.  We had dinner at the El Paisano Hotel.  This hotel is somewhat famous as it is where the actors (Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean) stayed while filming the movie Giant.  The decor of the hotel hasn't changed much since they made the movie - its still an old western hotel though very well maintained.

El Paisano Hotel Lobby

It was a cold night in Marfa.  It was forcasted to get down to 30, but when I got up it was 21 degrees.  We stayed at the Apache Pines RV Park west of town - one of two campgrounds in Marfa.  It wasn't much - a pea stone parking lot that had about 16 sites with full hook-ups.  No showers, no restrooms, no lights, no attendant (all self serve), but they did have free wifi and cable TV. Things are simple in Marfa.

In the morning we headed west for Las Cruces, NM and got to enjoy 200 miles of west Texas desert.  I really enjoyed west Texas with it's high plains desert, lack of development, and 20 mile views.  Someone told me that west of Odessa, it was no mans land.  That's a very accurate description and its exactly why I like it.  Its nature the way it's been since day 1.  West Texas is definitely worth a return visit.

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