The pictures below are from our (Annette and Charlie) January 2003 trip to the Big Bend National Park. Annette was on semester break from nursing classes and it was the warmest place we could reasonably drive to in the allotted time.
We stayed at the Foran residence the first evening on the way down and spent a day there on the way back. Karen gave us a mini tour of Oklahoma City.
We arrived in the park Monday morning, drove to the Chisos Basin Lodge, unloaded the bikes and went for a ride on the Old Ore Road, arriving back at the lodge after dark. Tuesday we started early and rode the Glenn Springs, Black Gap and the eastern half of the River Road. Wednesday we did a pavement tour to Castolon, toured an old ranch site and the town of Castolon as well as visiting Santa Elena Canyon. Thursday we took a ranger guided tour, loaded up the van, visited some more sites in the park and then headed north.
Click here for a map that shows the roads and places we visited.
The Big Bend area is very remote; from our room it was 100 miles to Alpine, the nearest grocery store. In earlier times there were mines and operations that harvested various desert plants. Attempts were made at large scale farming and ranching with varying degrees of success. During WWII the area was designated a national park. Many structures from the earlier activities are still standing and well documented for the visitor.
During our two days of touring on the primitive roads we saw only two moving vehicles and another three parked at campsites. It’s not very crowded there.
The bus driver poses with the Fort Stockton TX mascot.
Unloading the bikes in Chisos Basin to take our first ride
Tour leader prepares a gourmet lunch.
Charlie studies the maps, Annette photographs the approaching rain clouds.
Annette navigates the “Old Ore Road” as rain clouds recede into the distance.
Roadside buildings on the Ore Road
The road to our room in Chisos Basin The room is a lot closer to the clouds than this spot.
Annette on the Glenn Springs Road
An unmarked cemetery just off the Black Gap Road
Some kind soul has built a ramp to launch us into Black Gap.
Looking up Black Gap
Mariscal Mine Ruins (an abandoned mercury mine)
Mariscal Mine worker’s house – they were apparently not tall people
The Wilson Ranch foreman’s house (we took a guided tour)
Santa Elena Canyon overlook
The Rio Grande emerges from Santa Elena Canyon
Chisos Basin tourists
It takes a while for the fire department to arrive in Texas.