This is a huge park, and it covers over 800,000 acres! Big Bend gets it's name from the big bend in the Rio Grande river that flows through it's southern border shared with Mexico. Elevations as low as 1700' and as high as 8000' explain the great diversity in ecosystems found within the park. Driving in from Terlingua, TX on the southwest side of the park it seemed that the landscape had quite recent volcanic activity. Well, recent in geologic terms... Driving into the Chisos Basin, you become sure of it. Chisos Basin is what is left from an eruption that has been compared to Mt. St. Helen's in Washington. It was a beautiful basin and more greenery than the rest of the park. Almost sub-alpine in nature.
The Rio Grande
I learned a new word at Chisos Basin Visitor Center. The word is 'Ecotone'. We all know about ecosystems and their typical attributes and elevations, but an ecotone is the transition area between adjacent ecosystems. This is where the greatest number of species of birds, animals, and insects are found. Big Bend has quite a few ecotones because of the varied ecosystems there (river, desert, mountains).
Can you spot on the cliff wall where an arch is forming?
Hiking in Chisos Basin was really pretty! Stunning vistas were around every turn in the trail. The birds were busy searching for acorns under the fallen oak tree leaves and it was fun to observe them. I can see why it is popular with birders; there were so many beautiful birds.
After a great hike, coffee on the patio at the lodge seemed like a good idea. I met a lovely woman doing the same thing. She was much more talented than I, and was painting a watercolor of the view while sipping her coffee. We struck up conversation and told what each of us were doing there. We shared our hearts and when it was time to go, she gave me the watercolor she had done while we visited. It is beautiful and I was so honored to meet this precious person. She also gave me a wonderful analogy. Anna is just in the next room...you just can't see her. Thank you Kathie Walker-Millar! You put a bright spot in a hard journey.
Isn't it wonderful?