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Not all travel is about fancy hotels and First Class flights using miles and points. You can find Big Travel with Small Money right in your own back yard.
This past December, a couple of friends and I hit the road for a weekend getaway to Big Bend National Park. The park is on the border between the US and Mexico. And the landscape is a magnificent mix of desert and mountains carved out by the winding Rio Grande.
Hiking in Big Bend National Park Index:
- Part 1 – Our VRBO House in a Ghost Town
- Part 2 – Hiking and a Journey Into Mexico
- Part 3 – Restaurants & Stops
Hitting the Trails
1. Lost Mine Trail
We wanted to get started with exploring Big Bend National Park, so on our 1st day we hiked up Lost Mine Trail. We heard this trail has some of the most incredible views in the park.
Even though it was December and the temperatures were cooler, the weather is very dry. So be sure to drink plenty of water. And if you visit during the summer months, you may want to bring your own water with you. Because due to drought and water restrictions it can be a scarce commodity.
At the base of the trail, there were warnings about the local wildlife.
As we walked the trail we saw a stunning combination of rock, cacti, and wildflowers.
There are spots along the way where you can stop to enjoy the view.
And the views only got better as we made our way closer to the top.
The 5 mile hike took us ~3 hours. And the trail ends at an elevation of ~1.3 miles above sea level. Of course, I had to get in a few extra feet by jumping at the summit.
2. Across the Border
Big Bend National Park is bordered by Mexico. You can get into Mexico through the Boquillas Crossing. There’s NO fee. US Citizens only need a Passport or Passport Card to gain entry.
However, the ferry to cross the river costs ~$5 per person. And some folks choose to walk across when the water is low.
On the other side we were greeted by a man singing a Mexican folk song and burros waiting to give you a ride into the town of Boquillas.
The colorful buildings in Boquillas added life to the barren desert.
We took a peek inside the town’s vibrant yellow church. The church is green inside and filled with just 6 pews and a small altar.
3. Santa Elena Canyon
The next day, we made our way to Santa Elena Canyon. It’s a short 2 mile hike.
To follow the trail, you’ll have to cross the Terlingua creek. So be prepared to get muddy.
The environment can be unforgiving if you wander off the path.
You can see the mouth of the canyon up to 10 miles away. We made it there just in time to watch the sun begin to set.
Santa Elena Canyon was the highlight of our trip and I highly recommend making the hike if you find yourself in Big Bend National Park.
My friends and I had fun exploring Big Bend National Park. I will never forget the magnificent views we saw during our journey up Lost Mine trail and at Santa Elena Canyon.
Getting away from the airports and bustling cities and enjoying the wilderness can give a different perspective on travel and life.
In Part 3, I’ll tell you about all the great eats we found along the way!