Enchanted Rock comes with its fair share of legends, many inspired by the odd creaking and groaning sometimes heard coming from the dome. Geologists say the sounds come from the outer layers of rock contracting and expanding with changing temperatures, but the Tonkawa and Comanche Indians feared and revered the rock and continue to conduct ceremonies and leave offerings at its base to this day.
Exploring Big Bend National Park
Enchanted Rock is primarily a day-use park, though a number of primitive and backcountry campsites are available to visitors willing to hike to their pitch. RV's are not permitted. The dome is popular with rock climbers, who flock to its Yosemite-like rock. A number of local guide services , based out of Austin and nearby Fredericksburg and Dripping Springs, specialise in getting both newbies and experts up on the dome.
Top tip: You don't have to be a hardcore climber to reach the top of Enchanted Rock. Parts of the trail are steep and the rock can be slippery when wet, but the short, spectacular hike is well worth the effort for the degree views. Texas isn't all dry, flat plains. The state also boasts miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the shore has been developed, but a few sections of wild, pristine coast remain. One of the best stretches is Padre Island national seashore , which protects the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world: a narrow, mile long spit of dunes and tidal flats teeming with sea life.
Padre Island's most famous residents are Kemp's ridley sea turtles, one of the rarest sea turtles in the world. Female turtles journey from all over the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs at only two beaches: Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and on Padre Island each summer between April and mid-July. In a programme was launched to rescue the Kemp's ridley turtles from the brink of extinction due to overfishing and accidental entanglements in shrimping nets. In , more than 10, hatchlings were released along the Texas coast in the hope that many will survive and return to Padre Island to lay their eggs.
Browse more videos
Bird watching is also popular on the island, as the spit is located along the Central Flyway, a major migratory route. Upwards of species have been documented within the park, nearly half the total number of species that live in North America.
Top tip: Stay in one of the national seashore's five campgrounds and catch sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico. Along the Sabinal river in south-central Texas is a forest unlike any other in Texas. Here a stand of bigtooth maples grow far from of their usual range. These trees aren't strays, but rather ancient relics, left over from the cooler, wetter climate of the last Ice Age. For most of the year, Lost Maples state natural area , near Vanderpool, is a quiet wooded haven, offering hiking trails, bird watching and camping, but from late October into November, the maples, along with sycamores, chinkapin, lacey and Texas red oaks, erupt in a show of fall colours that attract hundreds of visitors a day.
People have been drawn to the Sabinal river and the Lost Maples area for thousands of years. The site is famous for preserving an archaeological artefact known as an atlatl: a spear-throwing tool wielded by the Native Americans of south Texas between 6, and 8, years ago. Top tip: The park posts " fall foliage reports " on their website during the peak leaf season. Weekends can get crowded and parking is limited so aim to visit on a weekday. Cabin rentals are available in nearby Vanderpool.
Texas is renowned for its limestone caves, thanks to its ancient aquatic history when it lay submerged under a shallow inland sea. Impressive caves can be found all over the state, but few have the colourful history of Longhorn Caverns near Burnet. Here ice age animals once took refuge, then later Native Americans, pioneer settlers, Confederate soldiers, bootleggers and outlaws all took turns calling the cave home. In the s, during Prohibition, the main underground room served as a secret speakeasy, dance hall and concert venue.
Today Longhorn Caverns is a state park, offering daily cave tours for novice potholers along with wild cave tours for those willing to squeeze their way through smaller underground passages to unique, rarely seen cave formations. Once a month the park hosts an overnight paranormal tour. Longhorn Caverns maintains a steady temperature of 20C 68F year round, making this a cool option during the hot summer months. There is no camping in Longhorn Caverns, but Inks Lake state park up the road offers RV and tent camping, along with primitive cabin rentals. BBNP is very safe. The easy and moderately difficult trails are well travelled and not hard to follow in my experience, e.
Nobody had any trouble. So no worries they were friendly. Study the descriptions of the trails on the BBNP website to see what you might want to try. Stay at Chisos Mountains Lodge for one night it you can get reservations. Several trails around the mountains leave from there including the short Windows Trail which goes to an overlook with a fine sunset view. The general rule is to drink a liter of water for every hour spent hiking in order to stay hydrated. On a hot day that may not be enough. Check websites devoted to hikers to see what people think.
Well, certainly if you haven't been doing much of this sort of thing, consider the things that can spoil the hike. In such a dry environment, water is everything, and I don't think I've ever been able to carry as much as I would like to have in that country. And you'll be proud that you seem to be walking the trails without even breaking a sweat. But it's just that you won't think you're sweating because it evaporates instantly. It's not just about getting thirsty.
Hiking Big Bend National Park
Dehydration can be disabling. I've had even very athletic people go down with crippling cramps while trying to carry on with the lowland running routine. And don't let the water run out. Turn back when you're down to half.
I let it run out one time while walking out of a backcountry camp in Bandoleer and discovered I could drink yellow, mud soup from the Rio Grande and live. The other is your feet, meaning the combination of your feet and shoes.
Hiking Trails for Young Children in Big Bend National Park
Wear good shoes with arch and heel support, and do some long walks in them, like five miles, so you don't find your feet a mass of broken, bleeding blisters. No matter where you find to walk at home, it will be easier than in BBNP. Walking downhill will get you hurt more easily than uphill. I believe enthusiastically in a sturdy staff or trekking pole.
It may prevent a crippling sprain when the rocks under foot resemble golf balls. And I know you envision two full trail days, and as a new hiker, that will have to be at a slow pace. Stick with the more developed trails. Two days isn't enough to build distance and difficultly.
It really pays to keep a slow pace and just enjoy the trail and what's around you. Take time to stop when the trail crosses a wash where there's a run of fine sand, and see what tracks are there. I've never actually seen a mountain lions in that country, but I have never been out when I didn't see their tracks, often superimposed over my boot tracks in Big Bend Ranch. And black bears are seen often enough to assume there's now a resident population in the park. And don't forget to look up. I almost always see golden eagles, though it's often at a distance.
On the park web site, read the descriptions of trails under Day Hikes, but note that a "mountain trail" in that country can be real work. Don't have too optimistic ideas of your walking rate. Your rate will be slow.
I don't go out without gauze pads, providone iodine, vet wraps and Moleskin pads. And a whistle. Rim trail hike, but it adds about 4 miles and a lot of time because it is a rugged trail with rock scrambling at the end; plan on an extra 2. Emory Peak in my view is not that exciting; the views are not as good as from the S. Rim, even though it is higher, because your view to the south is cut off by the S. Rim itself. Rim, but if you want a good view of those features, look at them upclose from the trailhead!
Get up early, be at the trailhead by dawn or soon after, and I think if you do the S. Rim without Emory Peak, you can be off the trail by 1 or 2 pm. Carry plenty of water. If you do that, then you can drive to Santa Elena and Ross Maxwell drives on your way back to Terlingua.
A great sunset view is the Window Overlook Trail in the basin, but that won't work for this itinerary. Another good view is Sotol Vista, but that probably won't work for you unless you do the drive in reverse direction, with Ross Maxwell first. There are probably other good views, but these are the 2 that come to mind. On Sunday a. Then out. That is a tight fit, though. Frankly, you'll be quite rushed. I would probably choose to skip the Boquillas Canyon side if I had done the Santa Elena side already and that is the side I'd explore if I could only do one.
So, if you are willing to skip that one, then I suggest once you have done the Window, and have driven back down the road through Green Gulch and are at the "T", look at the clock and decide. If you have time again, I don't know your destination , turn left and drive a short distance to the Grapevine Hills turnoff and drive to the trailhead and hike out to Balanced Rock. It is a very short hike about 1.
Take plenty of water if hot. Couple tips: 1 on the S. Rim trail, when you reach the toilet at the S. Rim, the trail continues on, but to get to the S. Rim itself, you need to wander over the rocks to the edge. Once you have done that, you can return to the trail and continue until the fork where the trail goes to Boot Canyon or to the East Rim which will be blocked shortly after the fork, due to peregrine nesting. Rim counterclockwise, starting on Juniper Trail and returning on Pinnacles Trail. If you start early in the day, that direction will provide that you have shade for much of the climb.
Juniper is in the shade in the morning, and in the sun in the afternoon. I can concur that Emory Peak after the South Rim wasn't worth the extra effort. I think that extra distance and really the climb is what put me out of commission for doing anything except driving home the next day. I went up Laguna Meadows and down Pinnacles - so happy I did it this way.
Pinnacles was a much steeper trail and I am much better going downhill than up. I brought ski poles and would highly recommend some sort of support whichever way you go. The South Rim is simply amazing.
Big Bend National Park – Travel guide at Wikivoyage
Saw Momma Bear and two of her cubs rooting around some plants about 20 yards from the trail. Thrilling and terrifying but they couldn't have cared less that I was there. Made the Ross Maxwell drive to Santa Elena in the late afternoon, which was very worth it. Just beautiful scenery the whole way. I did take the dirt road back to the nearest exit closest to Terlingua which at points got a little unnerving due to semi-rough terrain I was driving a little Elantra and the general isolation of it all - though that was both unnerving and very peaceful. Terlingua ghost town was a cool spot.