In Big Bend National Park roads end at the Rio Grande, the boundary between the United States and Mexico. One of the park’s best-known features, Santa Elena Canyon is divided between the two countries by the Rio Grande.
Our road ended at the Santa Elena Overlook. The road continued to the foot of the little hill on the right. There, ascending the “foot” is a switchback hiking trail including several series of steps to a lookout into the canyon. We hiked that trail when we were here in 2007, but not this trip. After watching several hikers navigate the ascent, we turned around and retraced our ride on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
The return trip provided several good views of the Rio Grande meandering along the flood plain between the US and Mexico. Here the river is shallow and easily crossed, but all wading and swimming is discouraged for two reasons: in some places there are strong currents and snags and sudden drop-offs; all border crossings are closed since 2002. Crossing here will net you up to $5000 in fines or/and one year in prison. However the park does administer 245 miles of the Rio Grande for recreational use. River float permits, required for all boat use, are available at park headquarters and ranger stations.
The afternoon ride turned out to be much nicer than our morning ride. The clouds thinned—and in some places cleared—and the sunshine brought out hidden colors.
The opposite side of Mule Ears.
Winding across the desert.
Our total wildlife sightings for the day were: several mule deer, lots of birds, and one pronghorn.
We also saw several horses and cattle, including this one loner ambling along the road.
Before we left La Vista, we made one more trip to Alpine.
See you later.
Louise and Duane