My Big Bend National Park Exploration: The Shortest Long Day In The Desert

Big Bend National Park Adventure

Our adobe house in Marathon, TX is only 30-40 minutes to the Big Bend National Park. This misled us to have a simple plan: we just sleep-in late this morning and take our time to get to the park. What I underestimated was the size of the park itself: more than 800,000 acres.

Big Bend National Park Welcome Sign
Big Bend National Park Welcome Sign

Half hour was the distance from Marathon to the first sign:
Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
A US Biosphere Reserve

It took a few minutes to get to the real entrance at the Persimmon Gap entrance booth where we paid $30 for the category of “private car”. The receipt was supposed to be posted on the windshield, which was good for 7 days. We grabbed a brochure at the booth’s brochures holder. The first paragraph says it well: “Big Bend National Park is in a remote part of southern Texas. Check supplies before leaving Alpine or Marathon. Gas stations and water sources are few and far between. Cell phone service is unreliable. Some park roads may require four-wheel drive.”

Cool Rock Formations Big Bend National Park
Cool Rock Formations

The Persimmon gap visitor center was closed, due to the Covid19 pandemic. By the time I seriously needed to go to the bathroom, it was another hour’s drive to get to bathroom facilities at Panther’s Junction. For a while, I was looking for a bush 🙂

Along the way, there were beautiful desert plants. Actually the desert’s rainfall mostly comes in the July-to-October monsoons. Some of the plants had leaf-like spines, however, if you think you can hide behind them, you are making a big mistake. The “leaves” are very sharp and spiky.

Big Bend National Park Desert Plants
Desert Plants

Not only does Panther’s Junction visitor center have nice bathrooms, there are also a post office and information center. The drinking water is provided here. Considering we only had soda in a small cooler, we quickly drank up the soda and filled the cans with drinking water.

In Big Bend National Park roads end at the Rio Grande, the boundary between the United States and Mexico.

Subaru at Big Bend
My White Subaru Crosstrek at Big Bend

Unlike in the park’s brochure, the Rio Grande looked yellow and muddy in my pictures. Maybe because the color is different each season.

I tried to be as close to the edge as possible to have a better view of the river, but I was stopped by my husband, worrying about me falling off the gravel paths.

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park

I saw some Mexican art and crafts, off to the side for sale: $8, $10…but no salesman around. There was a glass jar, the cash register? No idea. I was tempted to buy a little wire snake but decided against it.

With no cell signal, you have to rely on the road signs like the old days. It took us a while to find our way back to Marathon.

One little highlight on our way back to Marathon: we spotted the world’s smallest Target store, a competitive parody to the Prada store in Marfa, TX.

The worlds smallest Target Store in Marathon, TX
The Worlds Smallest Target Store in Marathon, TX

When we got home in Marathon, it was almost 7:00 pm.
We had the shortest long day in the Big Bend desert.

I will write about our trip to Ft. Davis, Alpine and Marfa next time.

Until then, please take care!