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Big Bend National Park National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Texas The Paisano Big Bend National Park Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River Visitor Guide J. JURADO Volume 38 Number Number 11 2020 2020 Picture from the Window View Trail. Free Park Movie More Inside... Activities and Scenic Drives�������������� 2, 6-7 Fossil Discovery Exhibit���������������������������� 2 Safety ���������������������������������������������������� 3 Visiting Mexico��������������������������������������� 3 Feature Articles������������������������������������ 4-5 Day Hikes ����������������������������������������������� 7 Birds and Bird Watching ������������������������� 8 Park Partners ������������������������������������������ 9 Camping and River Use������������������������� 10 Wildlife������������������������������������������������� 11 Information and Services����������������������� 12 The park's 24-minute film "Life on the Edge" is played every thirty minutes at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. First showing: 9:00AM; last showing: 4:00PM. Junior Ranger Program Free Big Bend Junior Ranger books are available at any visitor center. Learn about the park and complete activities to earn a badge! Welcome to Big Bend Welcome to Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River! Over 800,000 acres await your exploration and enjoyment. From an elevation of less than 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend includes massive canyons, vast desert expanses, forested mountains, and an ever-changing river. Here you can explore one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States. This diverse place is home to 1,500 types of plants that thrive in the park and support ecosystems full of pollinators, herbivores, and other wildlife. Take a drive along one of Big Bend's roads, or hike a scenic trail, and discover just how much diversity and life there is in this amazing desert! What can I see if I only have... One Day: Three Days: A Week: Big Bend is too big to see in a single day, but a great one-day trip might include trying to see the mountains, desert, and river with the following itinerary: With three days to spend in the park, you can explore the major roads more thoroughly and still have time for hiking. Check the latest schedule and join a park ranger for a guided walk, talk, or evening program to learn more about your park. With a week or more to spend in Big Bend, endless possibilities are open to you. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the roads mentioned in the previous sections, andwill also have time to hike or to drive some of the “unimproved” dirt roads. For these, you’ll need a high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicle; don’t forget to check at the visitor centers for current road conditions. The River Road, Glenn Springs Road, Old Ore Road, and Old Maverick Road are some of the more popular backcountry routes. A visit to the pool of water at Ernst Tinaja near the south end of the Old Ore Road is a Big Bend highlight. Y O U R E X P E R I E N C E Big Bend National Park PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 To: A M E R I C A ™ 1) The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive will give you fantastic views of the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and will lead you to the Rio Grande. There are scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way that are well worth a stop. Short walks to Sam Nail Ranch and Homer Wilson Ranch as well as the Castolon Historic District will give you a glimpse into Big Bend’s past. At the end of the road is a highlight of the trip: a short walk into Santa Elena Canyon—one of Big Bend’s most scenic spots and an easy 1.4 mile round-trip hike. 2) Visit the forested Chisos Mountains and walk the 0.3-mile Window View Trail to get a feel for the mountain scenery. If time allows you might consider hiking the Window Trail or Lost Mine Trail for a closer look at Big Bend's mountain landscapes, or lunch at the only restaurant within the park. 3) The Fossil Discovery Exhibit located 8 miles north of Panther Junction is another highlight that could easily fit into a oneday visit. Consider spending a day in each of the three major areas of the park: 1) Visit the Chisos Basin and consider hiking the Window Trail (6 miles round trip) or the Lost Mine Trail (5 miles round trip). Consult page 7 for trail descriptions of these and other popular trails in the park that you might fit into your trip. Try to experience Big Bend's wilderness as much as possible. 2) See the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive including a short hike into Santa Elena Canyon (see suggestions for “one day”). 3) Drive to Rio Grande Village, stopping at Dugout Wells along the way to walk the short Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail. The Rio Grande Village Visitor Center offers park information and interpretive exhibits. Walk the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. The bluff overlooking the Rio Grande at the end of the nature trail is a particularly beautiful spot at sunset. At the end of the road is the Boquillas Canyon Trail, which takes you to the entrance of this spectacular canyon. If you don’t have high clearance or fourwheel drive, improved dirt roads such as Dagger Flat and Grapevine Hills will get you “off the beaten path.” Hike the Chimneys Trail, Mule Ears Trail, or Grapevine Hills Trail for a closer look at the desert environment. If you’d like to explore the Chisos Mountains, trails to Boot Canyon, Emory Peak and the South Rim offer good views of the park and take you into another world which seems far removed from the desert. There are plenty of opportunities for overnight backpacking along these trails. A backcountry use permit is required to backpack. For more information see page 10. Recent Events National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Bend National Park Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River M. JURADO The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916, "... to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife... and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The Castolon Fire Authorized by Congress in 1935 and established in June 1944, Big Bend National Park preserves the most representative example of the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem in the United States. A tragic loss that quick action and hard work kept from being far worse. The Castolon Fire Park Mailing Address Big Bend National Park PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 On May 22, 2019, a fire that started in Mexico the day before jumped across the Rio Grande. With strong winds, extremely high temperatures around 110°F, and very low humidity, the fire spread rapidly. Phone 432-477-2251 Park Websites www.nps.gov/bibe www.nps.gov/rigr On matters relating to the Paisano: National Park Service Editor, The Big Bend Paisano PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 firstname.lastname@example.org The National Park Service cares for the special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. An abrupt change in wind direction with strong gusts showered embers across the Castolon Historic District, igniting the latrine building and barracks (which housed the La Harmonia Store and Visitor Center) and threatening the other buildings. Recovery Efforts The shade structure served as a wick drawing flames into the attic. Despite valiant efforts, structural and wildland fire crews were unable to safely extinguish the fire before both buildings suffered widespread damage. What is Next? However, through their extensive efforts in extremely difficult conditions, firefighters from the park and Terlingua Fire & EMS saved the many other historic buildings and EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™ artifacts, as well as vital utilities and the nearby Cottonwood Campground. About 950 acres on both side of the river burned before the fire was fully contained 13 days later. Fortunately, there were no injuries associated with this tragic loss. In the days after the fire, cultural specialists sifted the debris to save many historic items, including cast iron stoves, post office box doors, keys, and the iconic La Harmonia sign that hung above the door. Although damaged, Castolon remains a rich part of Big Bend’s pioneer and military past. Plans are underway for the next chapters in Castolon’s history. The National Park Service is consulting with adobe experts, historic architects, and structural engineers to determine how much of these structures may be salvaged and rehabilitated. A temporary building now houses the La Harmonia store, where visitors can purchase refreshments and park souvenirs. A visitor contact station has opened in the Officer's Quarters building. Long term plans include renovating the historic Garlick House (to the north, behind the Magdalena House) as a permanent new location for a visitor center for Castolon. The Big Bend Conservancy (www. bigbendconservancy.org) has established a Castolon Recovery Fund and will assist the park in designing a plan for the future of this historic site. To donate, text "Castolon" to 432-223-0102. Stay tuned as we move forward in a way that continues to honor and share the rich history of this area. New Exhibits and Updates Looking for this? Visitor Centers and buildings across the park have had great new changes! WIKIMEDIA Visitor Centers and exhibits are updated periodically to ensure that information that we pass along to the public is relevant, useful, and in good repair. The design and custom fabrication process for these projects usually takes three years! House in Castolon. Old exhibits from the Magdalena House were repurposed to use in the temporary contact station that was set up following the Castolon Fire that burned the visitor center. Designs are already well underway for new exhibits to come to the Persimmon Gap and Chisos Basin Visitor Centers. These are expected to be installed by late 2020, so stay In the fall of 2019, new exhibits were completed and installed at Rio Grande Village Visitor Center and the Magdalena tuned for even more great improvements to come! Another addition to educational materials in the park is the production of an orientation film, "Bravo y Grande." This film features the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, a separate national park site co-managed along with Big Bend. The film is available for purchase in park bookstores. Horseshoe Bend, 953 miles drive from Big Bend. Have you seen this picture? Odds are you were searching the internet for images of Big Bend National Park. This, unfortunately, is not a picture of a rock formation in Big Bend. Rio Grande Village VC Fossil Discovery Exhibit Magdalena House 2 The Paisano New exhibits at Rio Grande Village Visitor Center showcase the international cooperation between the United States and Mexico, with examples of changes in the river over the past century. Set within the house of Magdalena Silvas in the Castolon Historic District, these exhibits use the Silvas family as a lens through which to focus the story of daily life within the Castolon community. Additionally, hands-on exhibits including outdoor bronze sculptures and indoor discovery drawers engage a variety of ages with the diversity of life supported by the river ecosystem. Spanning two countries and two cultures, the community shared joys and struggles common to life in a remote area. C. DUNN C. HOYT "Where can I see the Big Bend?" Everywhere you look! The "Big Bend" region of Texas is named for the 90 degree turn in the course of the Rio Grande near the southern tip of the park. It is not visible from trails or overlooks. If you're looking for dramatic river scenery in Big Bend, there are overlooks and hiking trails at any of the three major canyons located in the park: Santa Elena Canyon, Boquillas Canyon, and Mariscal Canyon (highclearance vehicles required for Mariscal Canyon; strenuous trail, avoid in summer). J. JURADO This scenic vista is the "Horseshoe Bend" located on the Colorado River, 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, and approximately 14.5 hours drive (953 miles) from Big Bend National Park. The Fossil Discovery Exihibit was awarded an Excellence in Exhibition award from the American Alliance of Museums! Built in 2017, these exhibits continue to amaze visitors from across the globe. Parking for large RVs and trailers is not available at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit. J. JURADO Safety and Travel Information Protecting Yourself and the Park Pets in the Park Big Bend may be wild and unfamiliar country, but it need not be dangerous. Please review these common safety considerations and resource protection guidelines. Heat It is the mission of the National Park Service to preserve all natural and cultural resources unimpaired for future generations. Taking things like geodes or arrowheads, or collecting plants or animals robs everyone of this heritage—once something is stolen, it cannot be replaced. The dry desert heat quickly uses up the body's water reserves. Carry and drink water—at least 1 gallon per person per day. As you exercise, you lose salt and water (over a quart and a half per hour during arduous exercise). You need both to survive in this extreme environment. Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake—the diuretic effects can result in accelerated loss of body water. It is illegal to destroy, deface, injure, collect, or otherwise disturb park resources, including plants or animals (dead or alive), fossils, rocks, and artifacts. It is a violation to possess park resources. Please, take only pictures and leave only footprints. Protect your body—sensitive skin burns easily. Find shade, wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat. Wear longsleeves, trousers, and proper shoes. Driving Hiking Drive within the speed limit (maximum of 45 mph in most areas) and watch for wildlife grazing along the roadsides, especially at night. Park roads have limited shoulders and some are steep and winding. Remember, too, you share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians. Pull off the road to take pictures—do not stop or pause in roadways. Please, slow down...and enjoy! Trails vary from easy and well maintained to strenuous primitive routes. Plan hikes within your ability. Avoid ridges during thunderstorms, and canyons or creek beds when flash flooding is possible. Carry a flashlight and first aid kit, and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you get hurt or lost, stay in one place to conserve water and energy. Rest in shade if you can. Drones/Unmanned Aircraft Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft is prohibited in Big Bend National Park. Please keep your children close; don't let them run ahead on trails. Water Conservation • Visitors are limited to 5 gallons of water per day when refilling large containers; please conserve water while in the park. • Be water-wise when using the restroom; don’t let faucets run unnecessarily. • Wash only what clothing items you need. • Fill water jugs and bottles at Rio Grande Village whenever it is convenient. • Consider topping off RV water tanks at your next destination. • Take brief showers. • Please report noticeable faucet or water leaks. • Use backcountry water sources sparingly; leave backcountry springs for wildlife. Wildlife Observe Big Bend’s wildlife from a distance. Wildlife is protected in the park; it is illegal to harass or harm wildlife. Never feed wild animals. Feeding wild animals damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Protect wildlife and your food by storing food and trash securely. Venomous snakes, scorpions, spiders, and centipedes are active during warm months. Pay attention: check shoes and bedding before use and use a flashlight at night. Visiting Mexico Park at the Boquillas Crossing parking lot near Boquillas Canyon. After passing through the Port of Entry, visitors are ferried across the Rio Grande on a small rowboat for a modest fee ($5 round-trip as of 12/19). Walking across the river is permitted only at the Boquillas Crossing, but is not recommended if the river level is high. Crossing must be done during business hours when the Port of Entry is open. General Information The Boquillas Port of Entry is operated cooperatively by the National Park Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The facility is staffed by park rangers who can assist travelers with information about visiting the area. Required Documents Proper documentation is required to cross. U.S. and Canadian citizens can cross with a valid passport; U.S. and Canadian citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious group, or other youth group) need only present a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. For complete information on other travel documents, contact Customs and Border Protection at Presidio, TX at 432-229-3349. Once across the river, visitors have the option of walking to the village (1/4 mile) or paying an additional fee to ride on a burro, horse, or in a vehicle. Local guides are available. Visitors are required to check in with Mexican immigration officials upon arrival in Boquillas. What is in town? Boquillas features two restaurants with food that is simple, fresh, and good. A bar features pool and other games. Residents often display local handicrafts for sale, such as wire sculptures, embroidered textiles, and walking sticks. • Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go. • Pets need to be on a leash no longer than six feet in length (or in a cage) at all times. • You may not leave your pet unattended in vehicles if it creates a danger to the animal, or if the animal becomes a public nuisance. • If you plan to hike someone must stay behind with the pet, or you will need to make arrangements with a kennel service. There is no kennel service in the park. • Park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles. Big Bend has a low incidence of crime reported. However in any remote or seldom-traveled location, it is important to consider personal safety and to secure valuables while away from your vehicle. M. SCHULER How do I get there? Winter Hours: Weds. to Sunday, 8am-5pm Summer Hours: Friday to Monday, 9am-6pm Having a pet with you may limit some of your activities and explorations in the park. Following these pet regulations will ensure a safer, more enjoyable visit for yourselves, other park visitors, your pet, and the park's wildlife. Safety at the Border A unique part of the Big Bend experience is the opportunity to cross into rural Boquillas, Mexico. Operating Hours D.MANLEY No Collecting Border Merchants Near the border, you may encounter small "souvenir stands," and Mexican Nationals may attempt to sell you their crafts. It is illegal to purchase these items. Items purchased illegally will be considered contraband and may be seized by officers when encountered. Port of Entry staff can answer questions about items that can be legally purchased and imported through the Port. By purchasing souvenirs legally in Boquillas, you support the citizens of Boquillas, make the river corridor safer for all visitors, and help protect the resources of this ecosystem. • Know where you are at all times and use common sense. Cell phone service is limited or non-existent in many areas of the park. • Keep valuables, including spare change, out of sight and lock your vehicle. • Avoid travel on well-used but unofficial “social trails.” • Do not pick up hitchhikers. • People in distress may ask for food, water, or other assistance. Report the location of the individuals to park staff or Border Patrol as soon as possible. Lack of water is a life-threatening emergency in the desert. • Report suspicious behavior to park staff or the Border Patrol. Do not contact suspicious persons. • Ask at the visitor center about areas where you may have concerns about traveling. U.S. currency is accepted in Boquillas though visitors are advised to bring smaller bills. The Paisano 3 J. JURADO Plant Life Park Ranger Jimmy Duke Big Bend is home to many unusual plants. Many of them lie unnoticed or overlooked for much of the year unless you know what to look for. The well-named Living Rock Cactus blends almost invisibly into the limestone hills around the park, but bursts into bold pink bloom in the early fall and is easily spotted then. Resurrection Ferns look like dead plants until a good rain allows them to uncoil the vibrant, deep green leaves they have been protecting in a tightly curled ball during the dry times. However, not all of the unusual plants blend into the desert landscape and go unnoticed. Ocotillo (pronounced “Oh-co-TEE-yo”) is one of the most conspicuous plants across the park and definitely one of the oddballs in many respects. Ocotillo is also called Coachwhip or Candlewood or even Vine Cactus, despite it not being a cactus at all! It is common on gravelly slopes or flats driving to Rio Grande Village on the east side of the park or to Old Maverick Road on the west. At first glance, ocotillo looks like a large shrub that died—a cluster of drab, gray stalks covered in sharp spines, and no obvious signs of life like leaves along the branches. This bare bones appearance is actually part of ocotillo’s desert survival strategy. Plants lose most of their water through leaves during photosynthesis. Ocotillo and several other desert plants, notably the cacti, have adapted to desert life by moving the photosynthesis into their stems. The photosynthesis here is not as efficient as in typical plants, but the plants do save a lot of water and that is the principal issue for a desert dweller. Leaves are either absent, or only produced during wet times of the year when the water losses are more affordable to the plant. Ocotillo in Big Bend will often form slender one or two inch leaves a few times per year shortly after a good rain, and then drop them after two or three weeks as drier conditions return. For those few weeks it is one of the most attractive plants in the park and a visitor favorite. The real surprise though is in the spring when seemingly “dead stalks” of ocotillo burst into bloom. Slender clusters of bright red tubular flowers form at the ends of the stalks. In areas with abundant ocotillo plants, from a distance it can look like a red haze is hanging in the air from all the blooms! The area around Old Maverick Road is a good place to see this in late March or April. These flowers are a favorite of carpenter bees and hummingbirds—though the hummers get much of the credit as pollinators, it’s the bees that do most of the work. Ocotillo are an odd bunch indeed, but also fascinating, beautiful, useful, hardy, and well adapted to surviving and adding to the richness of Big Bend National Park. NPS PHOTO The Unusual Ocotillo Ocotillo, leafless but alive! NPS COLLECTION M. SCHULER Military Past The rugged terrain and isolation of Big Bend National Park make it an attractive escape for the 21st-century adventurer. Many years before the Big Bend became a national park in 1944, the region’s remoteness favored bandits and revolutionaries along the U. S.Mexican border. The Mexican Revolution in 1910-11 would engulf that country and spill over the Rio Grande into the Big Bend. Big Bend residents such as J.O. Langford, owner of the Hot Springs near Boquillas, grew nervous as banditry on both sides of the border intensified. Bandit leaders such as Chico Cano became infamous for daring raids, theft, and even murder. Until 1916, pleas by Langford and local ranchers for more federal protection were repeatedly turned down. Federal intervention was eventually provoked in 1916. Following a raid on Columbus, New Mexico by Pancho Villa 4 The Paisano In May 1916, a group of bandits raided Glenn Springs. On the east side of the Chisos, this small community was centered around a candelilla wax factory. A firefight broke out late in the evening of May 5th as the nine soldiers posted in the village were quickly overrun by the larger group of raiders. The soldiers barricaded themselves in an adobe building and bravely fought off the bandits. The raiders eventually smoked out the entrenched soldiers by setting fire to the hut’s thatched ceiling. Three soldiers were killed in the battle and several more wounded. The son of the village’s storekeeper was also killed. Bandits looted goods and damaged many of the factory’s structures. Military presence in the area swelled following the Glenn Springs raid. The region had a period of relative peace following the troop build-up, but the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917 forced the reassignment of many army companies from the Big Bend to Europe. Bandit activity continued apace with troop withdrawal. Camp Santa Helena, now Castolon, was established as a permanent military post following the end of World War I. Air patrols of the Rio Grande also began in the early post-war period. DeHavilland-4 (DH-4) aircraft assisted ground cavalry in the pursuit of border bandits. The Army Air Service relayed messages by dropping written messages from their airplanes to soldiers on the ground. The effectiveness of aerial patrols, along with the end of the Mexican Revolution, allowed the Big Bend to return to a period of peace by 1920. Remnants of the Big Bend’s military history remain in the park today. Foundations and other parts of the old wax factory and military encampments still stand near Glenn Springs. Camp Santa Helena in present-day Castolon has officer's quarters, tack shed, guard shacks and additional buildings to see. Park staff can provide additional information to help guide the avid history buff! NPS COLLECTION Park Ranger Dan Dosedel in March of that year, President Woodrow Wilson approved a military expedition in pursuit of Villa which would be led by General “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing’s nine-month chase of the elusive Villa in the state of Chihuahua, Villa’s homeland, was unsuccessful. 6th Cavalry uniform button NPS COLLECTION Soldiers Along the Border 6th Cavalry stationed at Glenn Springs. C. BALLOU C. BALLOU Conservation Values 1) Don't generate trash (or even generate recycling) to begin with! The best way to avoid filling bins anywhere is to first reduce, then reuse, and finally recycle. Park Ranger Jennette Jurado For most National Park visitors, the concept of "going green" is well known and already put into practice, but the park is nearing a critical need for even more help on this front. Did you know that Big Bend National Park is one of two national parks that has an active landfill? Located along the Grapevine Hills Road, the park's landfill consists of about 15 acres fenced in to prevent bears and other wildlife from accessing the site. The park's trash truck makes bi-weekly visits to deposit and bury waste generated by park staff as well as visitors. By current estimates, this landfill has only 3 to 5 years left before it reaches capacity. Doing everything possible to extend the life of this landfill while park management identifies other alternatives is a top priority. How can you help? Here is where we need a diversion! Diverting trash from this landfill can be done in a variety of ways: Step one is to avoid single-use items. Bring your own refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Bring a coffee thermos instead of taking a paper cup and lid from the gas station or store. Pack your food in reusable containers instead of single-use plastic bags. Bring your own cloth bags to stores to avoid needing to take a plastic or paperbag to trasnport home items. 2) Recycle whenever possible At visitor centers, campgrounds, and most stores, you can find bins to recycle aluminum, number 1 and 2 plastics, and glass. Please remember to recycle responsibly—recycling improperly can be even worse than not recycling at all, as trash contaminates the process. Remove lids from plastic and glass containers. Rinse out sugary items to avoid attracting bees and wasps. This all helps the process both at the collection site and in the recycling facility that the park maintenance staff operates. Once recycling is collected and sorted, it is stored until it can be driven to recycling facilities in Midland, where proceeds generated from these deliveries help offset the cost of the park's recycling program. 3) Take "pack it in, pack it out" to the next level! Pack it in, pack it all the way out. If your trip generates trash, do you really want it to be left buried in this park? Please take it home with you if at all possible, so that your trash goes into your home landfill. Plans are in the works for increasing recycling opportunities within the park, looking at landfill options outside of the park, and identifying potential grant sources to help make the park more sustainable going into the future. But we can't be successful in this endeavor without your help! We recognize that we have room to improve ourselves. Plans are underway to improve our recycling containers and messaging, as well as to find sustainable options to manage trash or the next generations. So stay tuned for more improvements to come! J. JURADO Quick, We Need a Diversion! Recycling bins in front of Panther Junction. J. JURADO Sunrise, Sunset Suggested Easy Locations: • • Along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, stop at Sotol Vista for a western view including Santa Elena Canyon with chiaroscuro—both light and shadow! Sunset from the Window View Trail, Chisos Basin. • • In the Chisos Basin, walk the Window View trail and sit on a bench to watch the Window frame your sunset. In Rio Grande Village, hike the short Nature Trail near campsite 18 for a 360 degree view! Climb the path up a short hill by the Fossil Exhibit and get a faraway look of hoodoos to the west. Stop by Mule Ears Overlook for interesting geology and great views. NPS PHOTO K. CARDENAS Where is the best place to see the sunrise or sunset? Truly, the answer is anywhere in the park! With huge horizons and dramatic scenery, it is spectacular wherever you are. • Sunset on Sierra del Carmens, taken from the road. More Challenging Spots: • • • Get a permit for a backcountry campsite close to the South Rim. Rewards for this 14-mile backpacking trip are seeing the sunset from the top of the 2,000 foot cliff. Wake up early from camp to see sunrise too! Drive the Old Ore Road (4x4) for great views to the west. With such a large park and so many options, go out and discover your own! Sunset from Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. NPS PHOTO Park Ranger Jenny Swab Additionally, don’t forget to look behind you—as the sun rises or sets, the light on the deserts, rocks and canyons in all directions may be even more beautiful than the sun and clouds. NPS PHOTO Searching for the Perfect Sunset Sunset at Mule Ears Overlook. The Paisano 5 Places to Visit Chisos Basin A drive to the Chisos Basin is an excellent way to experience the transition between arid desert and cooler mountain habitats. As this scenic, winding road rises over two thousand feet above the desert floor, it offers vistas of the mountain peaks and the erosionformed basin area. Chisos Basin 5401 ft 1646 m Within the Chisos Basin area is a visitor center, campground, lodge, restaurant, gift shop, camp store, and miles of hiking trails. With limited time, walk the Window View Trail for easy access to mountain vistas and a classic sunset view. If time permits, consider hiking (or backpacking) into the High Chisos to witness the towering forests of Boot Canyon or the unparalleled vistas of the South Rim. Note: the road into the Basin is not suitable for RVs longer than 24' or trailers longer than 20'.