This time in south West Texas we wanted to see the Big Bend area including both parks. Our plan was to see the Big Bend Ranch State Park one day, take a day break then see the Big Bend Nat’l Park another day. That plan worked real well, however now that we’ve driven through the parks we’ll need to go back for longer stays in both. Becky found on the maps that the Rio Grande actually gets it's beginning in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado! While touring we’ll be driving through or on what is called, “The Texas Mountain Trail” (TMT). The TMT is a region of west Texas roads that take one through incredible mountain vistas. The roads are all marked with signs indicating that it is a TMT road and there’s a large brochure or booklet about significant sights along the way. For info about the TMT go to: www.texasmountaintrail.com or www.thc.state.tx.us/travel
Leaving from Alpine we drove west to Marfa then south on hwy 67 to Presidio on the border of Mexico, then with a turn east onto hwy 170 we quickly came to the park office at Fort Leaton. It was here we wanted to purchase our Texas State Parks Pass. For $60 you get access to all the 120 natural areas, historic sites, parks, lakes for no additional cost. Fort Leaton is a state historic site. It was built in 1848 as a trading post (not a military fort) by Benjamin and Juana Leaton. Texas State Parks acquired the site in 1967 and started rebuilding it from the ground up to the magnificent facility one sees today. It’s construction is of handmade adobe, the old fashioned way, but laid double brick wide (44”) , the rest of the fort is also made from native materials. All jambs, headers, lintels, sills and roofing joists were built from hand-hewn cottonwood. For more info about Fort Leaton and other Texas state parks go to: www.tpwd.state.tx.us
It was shortly after we left Fort Leaton that we got our first glimpse of the Rio Grande. Ah! Now that’s more like it, this is what we came to this area to see. Though it is/was muddy or silty that day, we didn’t care we just want to experience the grandeur of the Rio Grande. And, as we later found, it just gets better. We drove most of the day, stopping often to walk around taking pictures. We followed hwy 170 through the park to Lajitas and Terlingua then turned north on hwy 118 for Alpine. When in Alpine, we dined at La Casita on H street. The Big Bend is one of those areas we tell people you just have to come see it for yourself, because the pictures don’t do it justice. Pictures can’t give you the feelings of “awesomeness” or grandeur for the canyons, river and wildlife. So enjoy the pictures we provide here and make a date for your visit to this magical and mystical place.
For other RV'ers out there no RV parks are in this park but some are accessible elsewhere nearby. DO NOT attempt to take your RV on hwy 170 past Madera Canyon and La Questa View point, the 1 mile 15% grade might surprise you and your engine/transmission/brakes/screaming passengers/insurance company etc, etc...