This past Fall, we made the seven hour drive from Austin out to Big Bend National Park- and it was worth every minute. Seriously- the pictures don’t do it justice. Typically when we take a vacation, we take off work for a week and travel back home to see friends and family, so for this trip we only had one weekend. Yes; seven hours in the car, one way for two days… and I would do it again in a heart beat. Because our time was limited, we tried to see as much as daylight would allow in the park. We woke up at 3:00 AM Saturday morning to arrive at Big Bend’s gates around 10:00 AM. With only one day in the park, we chose to explore the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Below you will find the trail we followed and the amazing canyons we experienced along the way!
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
- Old Sam Nail Ranch (short path about .5 mi. to an abandoned old ranch along Cottonwood Creek)
- Blue Creek Ranch (a house made out of native rock near the Blue Creek Canyon)
- Sotol Vista * The best view of the park!
- Burro Mesa Pour- off (a .5 mi. trail leads to a high pour off inside of a canyon)
- Tuff Canyon- you can hike down into this canyon!
- Castolon Historic District- buildings from the 1900’s featuring a cotton gin and old equipment
- Santa Elena Canyon *My favorite part of this trip! We walked down to the Rio Grande that separates the US from Mexico. Absolutely stunning.
Since we were already seven hours away from home, we had to stop at Big Bend Brewing Co. for some refreshments. Coincidentally it was their anniversary party! We loved the quaint little town of Alpine, TX- we will definitely be back just so we can stay here! For this trip, we decided to go glamping (glamorous camping) at El Cosmico in Marfa, TX- also an awesome little town I’d love more time to explore. Since we only had one day to explore Big Bend National Park, we decided to camp elsewhere. Honestly, the “Beware of bears, mountain lions and rattlesnakes” signs were enough for me to say, ‘nahhhh.’
El Cosmico was incredible, sitting on the outskirts of Marfa, when everyone turns out their lights for the night- the stars come alive. It was breathtaking, really. Jon woke me up when everyone else in the campground went to bed so I could go outside, sit on the deck and look up.
For such small towns, there are quite a few things to do during your stay. We found several options near Alpine and Marfa, we definitely didn’t have enough time with that seven hour drive ahead of us on Sunday.
- 12 Gauge Restaurant
- Big Bend Brewing Co.
- The Big Bend Coffee Roasters
- The French Grocer
- Fort Davis Drug Store and Hotel
- Pizza Foundation
- Squeeze Marfa- breakfast and lunch
- Do Your Thing Coffee (we got coffee and breakfast to go)
- FRAMA Coffee
- Chinati Foundation- art instillation
- Prada Marfa- art instillation
- Marfa Lights (when you see it, you’ll know)
- Lost Horse Saloon
- Planet Marfa (Beer Garden)
Yes, this trip was super short, but it was also super AMAZING. I have no idea when in my life I will ever get the opportunity to go back, but I certainly would love to share it with every one I know!