Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alpine, TX and Big Bend National Park…

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Alpine and Big bend TX 033Leaving Deming it was a long but easy drive until we got to Interstate 10 where we had to compete for asphalt with all the other 18 wheelers. A while later we pulled into the sleepy town of Alpine, Texas, home of Sul Ross State University. A few miles north of town we pulled into our space at BC Ranch RV Park. While it is a nothing special park, it has hookups and cable TV so it is more than adequate for a stay for a few days up to a week.

Alpine and Big bend TX 064One of the things we planned to do here was visit Sul Ross State University. Since it would not take too long to tour this small University we did that right after we arrived in town. The campus and I have a connection since I almost went there for my Master’s degree but after careful consideration I went to Texas A&M University instead. The campus is nice and is perched on the mountain side overlooking the valley Alpine and Big bend TX 066and town of Alpine below. Well worth a visit and we were glad we made the effort. A friend's son who graduated from Sul Ross also suggested we grab cold beers at his favorite dive bar in town called Railroad Blues.  It was a fun Texas honky-tonk bar and we very much enjoyed our draft pumpkin wheat brews there.

Alpine and Big bend TX 050But the real prize “to do” in this area is to visit Big Bend National Park. Now it is still over 100 miles to the park but once you are in this part of Texas 100 miles is not that far… Our plan the next day was to drive down to Big Bend National Park and only visit a small part of it – Santa Elena Canyon. Once we got to the main entrance it was $20 per vehicle to enter the park and since our annual pass had expired we coughed up the 80 bucks for a new one.

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Alpine and Big bend TX 045Big Bend NP is expansive to say the least, and as you drive along you will better understand this as you experience its vastness, wildness, and serenity… The Chisos Mountains are the biggest feature of the park but since we only had one day we chose to drive around the western edge of the Mountains and drive south to Santa Elena Canyon.

The drive down offers several vistas to observe such features as Mules Ears, Alpine and Big bend TX 048Sotol Vista, Blue Creek Canyon, the Dodson Ranch and of course one of nature's best displays of geology. Displays of pyroclastic layers, dykes, tuff and old volcanic stacks are available upon nearly every turn. We reached the trading post at Costolon and continued on to Santa Elena Canyon. The shear stark canyon walls rise virtually out of nowhere and rise high into the sky as the Rio Grande River that separates the USA from Mexico has carved a deep canyon within the layers of rock.

On the way back we took the opportunity to stop by and visit Ara and Spirit at the “Oasis.” Ara and Spirit have a blog, The Oasis of my Soul, and they have been on the road for many years following the passing of Ara’s son Lance at an early age from a Alpine and Big bend TX 054terminal disease.  I followed Ara’s blog even before we hit the road and it was his philosophy along with his wonderful photos that tended to capture each moment that I looked forward to experiencing for myself. I especially loved watching his videos of his dog Spirit riding in the side car of his motorcycle on the dirt roads in and around Big Bend National Park. Thanks Ara for inviting us into your Oasis..

So as the cold front creeps closer to us again (it didn’t make it here yet) we plan to do another 200 mile drive to Del Rio, TX and hope we keep in front of it.We need to get an early start as we certainly don't want to miss the A&M vs Alabama football game later today!


  1. I've always wanted to visit Big Bend. Thanks for the sneak peak. David went to A&M for a masters too.

  2. Sul Ross wanted me back in the old days too, but I went to a small school in Michigan instead. Would have been a fun time down there though. A&M upset Alabama? Play the lottery instead. Saban cheats!

    1. So I guess the Tide just rolled out. Way to go Aggies!

    2. He sure doesn't play like a redshirt Freshman. Must be all that discipline at A&M.

  3. We also need to visit Big Bend at some point in our travels. It's on our list, but it's still a very long list!

  4. I applied to volunteer at Big Bend this winter, but they said it would be too difficult to work there with just the RV and not towing a car, so I will just go and visit someday.

  5. Love the bend. Hope you got to see that game :)

  6. You should meet up with Billy Bob when you get to Del Rio! How about those Aggies?! :-) While we are at it, how about the Fighting Irish? Yeah! Eldy's pretty happy right now.

  7. When you hit the good ole age of 62, you become eligible for the Senior more $80.00 passes then. Go Aggies!!!

  8. It is such fun to read your blog, because you are making the exact same trip we did last year but in reverse.

    Yup, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Big Bend, Deming, Alpine, Del Rio, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

    We spent most of our time at Llano Grande in Mercedes, but we also stayed at Bentsen Palms where you will be.

    The absolute best thing at Bentsen is that you get free access to the state park next to you. You can ride your bike or just walk around for hours.

    We also found the RV'ers at Bentsen are among the friendliest we have ever met, and they return year after year.

    Take care ... TnT