In August, Liza needed to be in Dallas to see family, so we took the opportunity to visit, at long last, Big Bend National Park in Texas. It’s not exactly a quick stop off the interstate, you have to want to go there, but it is certainly worth the effort. It was a bit silly to have only one full day there, but this was more or less a scouting trip, and we’re definitely going back!
We drove out on a Saturday morning and after a lunch stop near Las Cruces, NM (at Luna Rossa Winery & Pizzeria in Mesilla), made it to Alpine, TX in the early evening, taking the scenic route through the Davis Mountains (home of the McDonald Observatory) en route. Sunday was a full day in the park, which even from Alpine (itself maybe 100 miles from I-10) was about 85 miles to the park entrance, and another 25 or so to the Rio Grande / Rio Bravo. The Chisos Mountains are contained entirely within BBNP, and the views from the Chisos Mountain Lodge were spectacular. The hamburger in the lodge restaurant was darn good, too. 🙂 The lodge itself is your basic national park rustic accommodations, but the setting can’t be beat – we are definitely going back.
From Alpine it was back to the interstate, through the west Texas oil country of Midland and Odessa, and on to Dallas. (Did you know the interstate speed limit out there is 80 mph?!) It was very interesting to see how the landscape slowly changed from bleak, to mesquites, to oaks and rolling hills. We had a few days with family (Uncle Melvin, Aunt Pat, cousins Tanya and Mike, and Mike’s wife Laura) in Dallas, and then we hit the road for the return home.
An overnight in Carlsbad was followed by a quick stop in Guadalupe Mountains NP (where Liza was panicking thinking we would run out of gas before the next services outside of El Paso…but it was all downhill from there, so Robert was right…again…). We had lunch in the beautiful La Posta de Mesilla restaurant in Mesilla, NM (Las Cruces) and made it home by early evening.
The lessons learned from this quick trip … we definitely need a day or so in the Davis Mountains so we can visit the observatory. Also need to visit the Fort Davis historic site, and among other things get a true sense for what Fort Huachuca must have looked like in 1877. Big Bend NP is gorgeous and it would be great to have enough time there to take some good hikes (we wanted to at least get to the entrance to Boquillas Canyon near the Rio Grande, but it was a bit too mucky for us to make it). The Chisos Mountain Lodge looks like *the* place to stay.
And last, but not least … make sure you have enough gas when you leave Carlsbad because there’s nothing on the highway until nearly El Paso. Definitely eat at La Posta de Mesilla – who knows, the most interesting man in the world may just greet you.
For more photos, click here to see the photo gallery from the trip.