I was excited to arrive at the most wild and secluded place I’ve ever been, a place with minimal mobile phone and internet coverage and more than 400,000 hectares of public land to explore.
I knew Big Bend, which is in southwest Texas, would be the ideal place to recharge my batteries and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city living for a few days.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Starting the day off early, my first stop was mountain biking on the Contrabando Multi-Use Trail System in Big Bend Ranch State Park. With over 40 kilometers of interconnecting roads and pathways, I was able to explore the Chihuahuan Desert at leisure. An ever-changing landscape meant that I never saw the same thing twice.
Exploring Big Bend on a mountain bike tour
Ride ’Em Cowboy! Hanging with the Horses in Lajitas
Afterward, I visited Lajitas Stables, where Linda introduced me to Candy, a beautiful bay. After saddling up in the corral and taking a short refresher lesson in Western riding, I ventured out on a guided tour. The surrounding scenery, with rugged rocks and an abundance of cacti, seemed straight out of a John Wayne movie.
When we returned, I enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at the Candelilla Café, part of the luxurious Lajitas Hotel and Golf Resort, located between both Big Bend national and state parks. After lunch, I walked the gardens and took in the expansive views of the golf course.
Awe-Inspiring Big Bend National Park
Next, I drove to nearby Big Bend National Park and was not fully prepared for the incredible landscape I would encounter. The farther away from civilization I traveled, the more breathtaking the views became. Red rock mountain ranges stretched as far as I could see. When I finally reached my destination of Santa Elena Canyon, a 457-meter vertical gorge on the border of the USA and Mexico, I canoed along the enchanting Rio Grande River, an experience that left me speechless.
Big Bend is also a hiker's dream with more than 240 kilometers of trails to explore. Elevations rise to nearly 2,440 meters on Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains, the only mountain range in the USA to be contained entirely within the borders of a national park.
Chisos Mountain Lodge at Big Bend National Park
Terlingua Ghost Town
Later that evening, I visited the historic mining town of Terlingua, which has been reinvigorated with outfitters, restaurants and galleries. Dining at The Starlight Theatre Restaurant and Bar while listening to live music was a perfect way to end the evening. Twilight gave way to a night sky filled with sparkling diamond-like stars.
Marathon: The Final Stop
The following day, I took a leisurely two-hour drive north until I reached the quaint town of Marathon, the eastern gateway to Big Bend National Park. The fully restored Gage Hotel is the perfect place to relax before you end, or begin, your journey. After an amazing meal, accompanied by live music, I retired to my room. The next morning, before leaving, I took a stroll through The Gage Gardens, 11 hectares of landscaped and perfectly manicured flora.
What a trip! Grab your outdoor gear and passport and make plans to fly to the Midland International airport. Rent a car and take a relaxing drive through Big Bend and the west Texas mountains. You won’t be sorry!