I got to the entrance gate about 4:15 in the afternoon. I bought the yearly national park pass, figuring I would see many more national parks and areas charging a fee, so the $50 should pay off. The pass is good until the end of May next year, so I believe it will!
The first thing I wanted to do is get to the visitor's center so I could get my passbook stamped before they close (6 PM btw). That was 26 miles away. For some reason, this road wasn't as impressive to me as the Camino Del Rio had been all day. I think it was flatter and the mountains not as craggy or else they looked the same as what I had been seeing.
After business was done, I decided to take the road leading to the easternmost part of the park, since I had been traveling that direction all day anyway. I was going to try to let time permit me to come back to the center, then head south to the Chisos Basin where the lodge and restaurant was. So, off I went again.
About 20 miles east, and not far from the end of the drive, is a turnoff for Hot Springs. I remember reading about there really being natural springs there that can be used, so I turn off to check it out. Turns out it was a place where Charles Livingston (an undertaker from Alpine, TX) built a house, post office, store, motel and bathhouse in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Remains of all these buildings are still there. There is a short trail to the bath house with markers labeled to point out American Indian pictographs and petroglyphs. I also saw mud houses in the rocks for bats, I bet! Nothing I could find told me about them, so that's my discovery and story about them! I knew I was getting out of here before dark! The bath house remains were not inviting to me at all. Because of the drought, the water through it is not free flowing, so there is a gathering of algae and other things that thrive in standing water. I didn't even put my hand in to see if or where the water is the advertised 105 degrees.
The Rio Grande Village at the eastern end is also a campground with spaces for RVs but no hookups. I didn't get out of the car or look for the overlook. I needed to get to the restaurant soon. It closed at 8 PM and it was now 6. Besides, I wanted to be out of the park by dark, as it will be a long drive back on a road I haven't been on yet - I wasn't going back the long way!
The ride to the Chisos Basin was the best part of the drive in the Park. I went into all 3 terrains of the park to get there - river, desert, and mountain. Climbing the mountain was interesting as there were many hairpin turns and it was the time of day for mule deer to come out and graze. The restaurant was busy but I got seated by 7 PM and had a great meal of steak, potatoes, and grilled corn on the cob.
I left the restaurant that overlooked "The Window", a space between mountain tops, as the sun was setting, near 8:30 PM. While I didn't see the sun set, I enjoyed light, then bright moonlight all the way back home. I also encountered many deer, jackrabbits (one got hit), and bats (vultures don't fly around at night, do they?). I got home about 10:30 PM, so it was a very big day in my life, and hence, the long story!