BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

April

Lost Mine View

Lost Mine View*

According to Indian legend, when the Great Creator made the earth and had finished placing the stars in the sky, the birds in the air, and the fish in the sea, there was a large pile of rejected stony materials left over. He threw this into one heap and made the Big Bend.

Lying in the lower southwest corner of Texas, Big Bend National Park is a vast desert wilderness punctuated by high mountains, deep river canyons, and lush desert oases. You will marvel at the variety of plant life within this diverse landscape — from the broad expanses of yucca and agave of the Chihuahuan Desert to the magnificent Arizona Cypress found high in the Chisos Mountains. Big Bend is well noted for the diversity of its wildlife too, including a great variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Mule Ear Trail

Mule Ear Trail*

The Chisos Mountains are the striking backdrop of this park. This high mass of volcanic rocks towers high above the surrounding desert and encircles a deep valley known as "The Basin." The Basin contains the Park's highest concentration of wildlife — javelina (collared peccary), rock squirrels, Sierra del Carmen white tail deer, and a wide variety of birds. The vegetation changes dramatically as you ascend the Chisos Mountains — from the pinyon - juniper forests at the arid base to the cool, high mountain forests of aspen and maple. Here in these highland forests resides perhaps the park's most unique inhabitant, the rare colima warbler, which we hope to see on the trail to Boot Spring.

Flowing through its massive canyons along the southern boundary of Big Bend National Park is the Rio Grande River. We'll walk beside vertical limestone walls in Santa Elena Canyon and then in Boquillas Canyon. The stark, rocky landscape of the canyons is a study in contrast with the lush willow thickets that border the river. As we walk in this riparian zone, we'll expect to see a good variety of migrating birds, including warblers, orioles, and flycatchers.

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon*

The Chihuahuan Desert extends into the Big Bend area from northern Mexico. We'll see many species of prickly pear cactus, agave, and the hallmark of the Chihuahuan Desert — the sturdy bunch of fiercely spined blades, known as the lechuguilla. The vast desert vistas are unforgettable, while the oases of green are a welcome surprise. Scattered throughout the desert are springs surrounded by cottonwood and willows, home to a great abundance of birds and wildlife. We will visit several of these oases including Grapevine Springs and Dugout Wells.

Our base for this trip at Big Bend is Chisos Mountain Lodge. By staying at one place, you won't have to pack and repack. We've planned a variety of day trips from the lodge to bring you face to face with the magnificence of Big Bend. Our last two nights will be spent at Indian Lodge, located in Davis Mountain State Park, northwest of Big Bend National Park, where you will see a different desert environment of Texas.

Window

Window*

Your leader for this expedition is Peter Debes. Peter, a retired science teacher, is a trained naturalist with a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He brings years of study and intense interest in birds, botany, and all aspects of nature. Peter has led expeditions to the finest natural areas of the western North America and to other parts of the world, including Africa, Peru, and Belize. We plan to add a second tour leader as enrollment warrants.

* All photographs are taken by Gene Gartland and are the property of Nature Discoveries, Inc.

Comments from Past Trip Participants

"Highlights for me included hiking in beautiful country — seeing flora and fauna not seen before."

"This trip exceeded my expectation by far."

"The group leaders are super persons who are intelligent, capable, lively, personable, and patient. BRAVO!"

"Everything was a highlight!"

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