Mesa de Anguila is a large topographical feature in the far western portions of Big Bend National Park, cut to the south by the Rio Grande. This uplift is one of the least visited areas of the park, and trails here are rough and precarious. The original goal was to hike cross country along an old pack trail to visit a small canyon along the river. It is February and Hunnemannia fumariifolia is blooming at this time. This small canyon is the only known location in Texas, and the US, for this species to occur.Read More
The Window Trail is probably the most heavily traveled path in Big Bend National Park, and for good reason. The trail is so aptly named for the framing of the western desert floor by Carter Peak to the south (left) and Vernon Bailey Peak to the north (right). Rain that falls in the Chisos Basin gathers and runs through this opening between the mountains, supporting residents of the park, animals and humans alike. The trail follows this gradual slope down to the opening, crossing arroyos and rolling foothills of scrub brush.Read More
The Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend of Texas are some of the most botanically and ecologically diverse areas in America. Where arid desert meets juniper forests, you can imagine the abundance of species diversity and unique biological situations. Succulents, coniferous trees, grasses, and herbs thrive in harmony.
Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park is a 5 mile round-trip hike that tops out at nearly 7,000 feet in elevation and offers some of the most spectacular views in the park. In the photo below, you can see the paved road through Panther Pass, near the location of the trailhead.Read More
Big Bend National Park is probably my favorite place to be outside. The contrasts of the Chihuahuan Desert is continually impressive to me. Luckily, my dear friends also share this love for the park and I was fortunate enough to design and construct the florals for their wedding. In October, we explored possible ceremony sites along easily-accessible trails so family and friends of all abilities could attend.
We decided on the open space below the pour-off of Burro Mesa. The walls rise from the desert wash some 60 plus feet into the air, creating a natural, 3-sided room. Even in late April, this area can get quite hot, but we lucked out with overcast skies and even intermittent sprinkles. Because of National Park Service regulations, you can not have organic plant material on the trail. This created a challenge in designing the body wear for the grooms and party. I instead made boutonnieres and bouquets out of paper and copper wire, playing off of the colors of the desert.Read More
It was a very quick trip to Big Bend National Park, and my least active by far. I was in the park for a wedding and was fortunate enough to stay in the lodge where I had 4 walls, electricity, and hot water. I almost felt like I was cheating the system by not camping. I didn't make it down the usual trails so many of my observations were from the roadside.Read More
On this trip, it was unseasonably wet, as it has been in much of Texas this fall. Foliage and flower colors are especially vibrant when damp, and the muted light of cloud-covered skies only added to the effect. Many plants are even blooming out of season or have abnormally fleshy growth due to the moisture. It is a special time in the Chihuahuan Desert.
This post will cover the more herbaceous plant materials found in Big Bend National Park during my visit in November 2015. (Disclaimer: I realize not all of the plants described here are particularly herbaceous, but they better fit this post than my earlier post about cacti.)
I was especially attracted to this grouping of endemic species. Leucophyllum, Dasylirion, and Ephedra create a contrasting palette of color and texture, and are surrounded by red bedrock. Few could create a similar effect manually.Read More
When you think of the desert, you don't typically think of a botanically-rich environment full of life. Striking landforms dominate horizons in Big Bend National Park, so it's easy to miss the small details along the ground. A variety of textures and colors paint a unique palette, and the desert rains bump up the saturation.Read More