Big Bend Parks
Designated for the vast curve of the Rio Grande River, the Big Bend encompasses over one million acres of remote, public land; including Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. It's unique and illustrious history; combined with its stunning, natural beauty make this exciting destination to behold and explore.
Big Bend National Park
Commonly referred to as "three parks in one", Big Bend National Park includes 3 unique environments; mountain, desert and river. Within an hour, you can drive between the rivers edge and a mountain basin nearly a mile high.
The Big Bend National Park encompasses more than 800,000 acres of rugged country in southwest Texas. The park exhibits a variety of dramatic contrasts; including extreme climate fluctuation and altitude range, which contributes to the exceptional diversity in plant and animal habitats.
Big Bend National Park is the largest protected area of Chihuahua Desert topography and ecology in the United States for geologic and paleontology studies. Archaeologists have made numerous discoveries estimated to be 9,000 years old and historic buildings and landscapes illustrate life at the turn of the century.
The Rio Grande River serves as an international boundary between Mexico and the United States. Its 118 twisting miles form Big Bend National Park's southern boundary and include the spectacular Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas Canyons. An abrupt change to the river's flow forms the "Big Bend" of the Rio Grande; hence the origin of Big Bend National Park's name.
A variety of recreational activities are available to visitors of Big Bend National Park; offering something for everyone. To experience the best of the Big Bend, you must not only see it, but feel it.
For more information on The Big Bend National Park visit http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas; extending along the Rio Grande River between the towns of Presidio and Lajitas. Its extraordinary setting includes over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness.
Embracing some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest, the Big Bend Ranch State Park encompasses two impressive mountain ranges containing ancient volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and magnificent waterfalls. The region has been a crossroads of human activity for over 11,000 years, as diverse people and cultures have been drawn by the abundant resources of the Rio Grande River.
The Park encompasses a group of cattle ranches according to open range principles. A herd of long horn cattle live in the Park, and a semi-annual long horn cattle round-up moves cattle throughout.
With 23 miles of frontage along the Rio Grande River, the Big Bend Ranch State Park is a popular place to go rafting, and away from the water, visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
The Park is open year round with a nominal admission fee charged for entry. Permits are required for use of Primitive Road, Front Country Campsites, and Back Country Zone Camping. Day Use visitors are required to obtain a free permit for motorized entry into the Primitive Road Zone.
For more information on Big Bend Ranch State Park visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/big_bend_ranch/
Lajitas is nestled on the Rio Grande a few miles west of the majestic Chisos Mountains, between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. The name Lajitas is a Spanish word meaning "little flat rocks" and refers to the Boquillas flagstone rock that is indigenous to the area.
In the early 20th Century, Lajitas became a military outpost commanded by famed U.S. Army General "Black Jack" Pershing, who led forces in pursuit of the notorious Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa. Mercury mining in the Chisos Mountains attracted prospectors, and dinosaur fossils found throughout the area indicate a much earlier life in the valley. Today, Lajitas is a beautiful golf and spa oasis in the middle of the Texas "badlands".
The Lajitas Mesa is one mile north of the town of Lajitas, and rests just east of the Presidio county line in Southwestern Brewster County. The mesa, which stands at an elevation of 3,672 feet above sea level, rises some 1,330 feet above the town. Lajitas Mesa is 1.5 miles long and a half mile across at its widest point. On its flanks are exposed lava flows and white ask deposits. Deposits on the mesa are shallow and stony, and support Mexican buckeye, walnut, persimmon, desert willow, scrub brush, and a variety of grasses.