by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved
Visitor Guide 2022
Visitor Guide to Big Bend National Park (NP) in Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
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 Volume 39 Number 1 2021-2022 The Rio Grande winds through Hot Springs Canyon. Big Bend in Your Pocket More Inside... Superintendent’s Welcome Welcome to Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River! These parks challenge visitors with their vastness, remoteness, and extreme conditions. For the well-prepared adventurer, it can be a trip of a lifetime. Please pay attention to your own safety as we’d like to welcome you back again in the future. Safety 2 Visiting Mexico��������������������������������������� 3 Things to Do��������������������������������������� 3–7 Day Hikes ����������������������������������������������� 7 Big Bend Stories�������������������������������������� 8 Park Partners ������������������������������������������ 9 Camping and River Use������������������������� 10 Wildlife������������������������������������������������� 11 Information and Services 12 At Big Bend, we are renewing our focus on environmental and financial sustainability. You can help on both fronts. Pack as much of your trash out of the park as possible. Recycle what you can, then take any other recyclables home with you where urban recycling programs are more robust. I hope you’ll appreciate our new recycling bins. They clarify what we can recycle and what we can’t. Remember: all trash deposited in Big Bend ends up at a landfill within the park. Help us transition to a solid waste regime that better protects this special place. Bob Krumenaker 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 the mountains, desert, and river with the following itinerary: With three days to spend in the park, you can explore the major roads 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 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. 1) The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive will give you fantastic views of the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and will lead you to the Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon. The scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way 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. EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™ Big Bend National Park PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 At the end of the road is 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 look at Big Bend's mountain landscapes, or lunch at the Chisos Mountains Lodge—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 hike 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. 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 four-wheel drive, improved dirt roads such as Dagger Flat and Grapevine Hills will get you “off the beaten path.” Hike the Chimneys, Mule Ears, or Grapevine Hills trails 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 a world that 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. Big Bend National Park Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916, "... to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life... 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.” 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. Park Mailing Address Big Bend National Park PO Box 129 Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 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 email@example.com The National Park Service cares for the special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA™ Protecting Yourself and the Park M. JURADO National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Bend may be wild and unfamiliar country, but it need not be dangerous. Please review these guidelines for safety and resource protection. No Collecting Heat The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve all natural and cultural resources unimpaired for future generations. Taking rocks, arrowpoints, 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 accelerate loss of body water. It is unlawful (and rude) 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. Driving Drive within the speed limit (45 mph in most areas) and watch for wildlife along the roadsides, especially at night. Park roads have narrow shoulders and some roads are steep and winding. 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! Drones/Unmanned Aircraft Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft is prohibited in Big Bend National Park. Protect your body—sensitive skin burns easily. Find shade, wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat. Wear longsleeves, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Water Conservation • Visitors are limited to 5 gallons of water per day when refilling containers; please conserve water while in the park. • Don’t let faucets run unnecessarily. • Wash only what clothing items you need. • Fill water jugs and bottles at Rio Grande Village whenever possible. • Consider topping off RV water tanks outside the park. • Take brief showers. • Please report water leaks in park facilities to a ranger. • Use backcountry water sources sparingly; leave backcountry springs for wildlife. Hiking Wildlife 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. 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. Please keep your children close; don't let them run ahead on trails. 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. Quick, We Need a Diversion! Did you know that Big Bend National Park is one of only two national parks that has an active landfill? The landfill may reach capacity in 3 to 5 years. The park’s management team is exploring sustainable options to the landfill, but we need to do everything possible to extend its life. The best way to do this is to divert as much trash as possible from the landfill. Follow these three steps to protect YOUR park: Don’t generate trash. Avoid single-use items. Bring your own refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Use your personal coffee thermos instead of a paper cup and lid from the gas station or store. Pack your food in reusable containers instead of single-use plastic bags. Avoid plastic bags altogether by bringing your own cloth bags to stores. 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 in a recycling bin contaminates the process. Remove lids from plastic and glass 2 The Paisano containers. Rinse out containers so that bees, wasps, and other critters aren’t attracted to the recycling bins. Clean containers and properly sorted recycling helps both at the collection site and in Big Bend’s recycling facility. Once recyclables are collected and sorted, they are stored in the park until they can be driven to recycling facilities in Midland. The proceeds from these deliveries help offset the cost of the park’s recycling program. Take “Pack it in, Pack it out” to the next level! Pack it in, pack it all the way out. One of the most important ways you can help is to take your trash home with you. Into the Future In 2020, the park received grants from the National Park Foundation and Coca-Cola Foundation to develop manageable steps toward reducing our landfill reliance. These steps include reducing waste by composting and promoting recycling; bailing and compacting trash so that it takes up less physical space in the landfill; and exploring sustainable options for that day in the near future when the landfill will close. Thank you for being a part of our “zerolandfill contribution” efforts. Park Ranger Jennette Jurado J. JURADO Located along the Grapevine Hills Road, the park’s 15-acre landfill is fenced in to prevent bears and other wildlife from accessing the site. Every two weeks, park staff collect, dump, and bury waste generated by park staff, visitors, and lodge operations. Top: Two weeks of trash are unloaded and buried in the landfill on Grapevine Hills Road. Bottom left: Isaiah enthusiastically deposits a plastic bottle in the new recycling bins. Bottom right: Plastic, cardboard, paper, and metals are baled in the park’s recycling center and transported to recycling centers in Midland/Odessa. Things to Do Birding Hot Spots Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village • Dugout Wells—shady cottonwood trees and a windmill at this desert oasis. • Rio Grande Village Nature Trail—a boardwalk over the pond is an excellent area for waterfowl. • Daniels Ranch Picnic Area—the cottonwood trees provide excellent shade to both resident and migrant species. Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive • Sam Nail Ranch—a windmill and large trees attract birds to this historic ruin. • Blue Creek Trail—a half mile from the Homer Wilson Ranch are the Red Rocks, an area known for Lucifer Hummingbirds. • Cottonwood Campground—large trees here provide a haven for birds. Chisos Mountains • Basin area—many mountain birds can be found around the campground and developed areas. • Boot Canyon—the nesting area of the Colima Warbler and other species. • South Rim—this 2000' cliff is known for falcons and swifts. Birding in Big Bend The Colima Warbler The park is recognized as a Globally Significant Bird Area. Big Bend National Park is famous for its birding, with more documented species of birds visiting the park throughout the year than any other unit in the National Park System (approximately 450). The park's diverse array of habitats ranging from the riparian corridor of the Rio Grande to the forested canyons of the Chisos Mountains present an attractive stopping point for birds traveling along major migratory paths that intersect the park. A good guideline for birding in Big Bend is to seek out areas where water and vegetation are most abundant, such as the Rio Grande, the Chisos Mountains, or desert springs, some of which are accessible by car. Generally the most active time for birding is in the spring when many species are migrating through the park. However, with patience, birding in Big Bend can be rewarding throughout the year. The riparian corridor at Rio Grande Village offers some of the best year-round birding in the park. Consider walking the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail or visiting the Daniels Ranch picnic area west of the campground. A similar habitat is accessible between Cottonwood Campground and Santa Elena Canyon on the park's west side. The piñon-oak-juniper woodlands of the Chisos Mountains and their foothills also offer accessible, year-round birding, and attract many species of birds that would not otherwise be found here. It is well worth the effort to hike into the higher elevations. During early summer you may spot the sought-after Colima Warbler, which is only found outside of Mexico in the Chisos Mountains. Patience, a good field guide, and knowledge of where to look are the keys to locating birds in Big Bend. A checklist of birds is available for purchase at any visitor center and is a great aid in determining which species are likely to be present and the habitats where they are found. One of the most sought-after bird species in Big Bend is the Colima Warbler, a type of New World warbler found primarily in the Sierra Madre of Mexico. A small population nests in the higher elevations of the Chisos Mountains beginning in early summer. Finding one is the tricky part! Visitors hoping to spot a Colima Warbler usually have to make the strenuous, 9-mile round-trip hike to the bird's main habitat in Boot Canyon. Occasionally they are spotted closer to the trailhead on the upper portions of the Pinnacles Trail. Good luck! Visiting Mexico A unique part of the Big Bend experience is crossing into rural Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico. Operating Hours Winter Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 8am–5pm Summer Hours: Friday to Monday, 9am–6pm Days and hours of operation are subject to change. A visit to Mexico is permitted through the Port of Entry during business hours only. There is no other legal access to Mexico within Big Bend National Park. 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; For complete information on other travel documents, contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Presidio, TX at 432-229-3349. How do I get there? Park at the Boquillas Crossing parking lot. Pass through the Port of Entry and take a small rowboat across the Rio Grande for a modest fee ($5 round-trip as of 5/21). Wading across the Rio Grande is permitted only at Boquillas Crossing, but is not recommended if the river level is high. Once across the river, walk to the village (1/2 mile) or pay 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 wire sculptures, embroidered textiles, walking sticks, and other handicrafts for sale. U.S. currency is accepted in Boquillas. Visitors are advised to bring smaller bills. Border Merchants Near the border, you may encounter small “souvenir stands,” and Mexican nationals wanting to sell you their crafts. It is illegal to purchase these items in the park. Items purchased illegally are considered contraband and may be seized by law enforcement officers. Port of Entry staff can answer questions about items that can be legally purchased in Mexico and imported through the Port. By purchasing souvenirs in Boquillas, you support the citizens of Boquillas, make the river corridor safer for all visitors, and help protect the resources of this ecosystem. The village of Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico. Safety at the Border Big Bend has a low incidence of crime reported. However, in any remote or seldomtraveled location, it is important to consider personal safety and to secure valuables while away from your vehicle. • 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 locked in 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 or Border Patrol staff as soon as possible. Lack of water is a lifethreatening emergency in the desert. • Report suspicious behavior to park staff or Border Patrol. Do not contact suspicious persons. • Ask at the visitor center about areas where you may have concerns about traveling. The Paisano 3 Things to Do Searching for the Perfect Sunset Where is the best place to watch the sunset? Anywhere in the park! As you watch the sun sink below the horizon don’t forget to look behind you—the light on the deserts, rocks, and canyons in all directions may be even more beautiful than the sun and clouds. Fossil Discovery Exhibit. Climb the path up a short hill by the Fossil Discovery Exhibit for a distant look at the hoodoos to the west. (Bonus tip: The hill is a great place for stargazing too!) Easy-to-Reach Locations Mule Ears Overlook. Stop by the Mule Ears Overlook for interesting geology and great views of the iconic Mule Ears. Here are some of our favorite places to watch the sun set. These places are all easily accessible from paved roads and don’t require much hiking. Sotol Vista. Along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, stop at Sotol Vista for a western view of Santa Elena Canyon with chiaroscurro— both light and shadow! Window View Trail. In the Chisos Basin, walk the Window View Trail and sit on a bench to watch as the Window frames your sunset. More Challenging Spots 2022 Celestial Events • January 3,4 Quadrantids Meteor Shower • August 12 Sturgeon Supermoon • March 2 Saturn and Mercury in conjunction • August 15 Jupiter & Moon close together before sunrise • March 20 Spring Equinox • September 23 Autumnal Equinox • March 23–April 3 Mars, Saturn, & Venus in SE sky, before sunrise • October 7 Draconids Meteor Shower • April 20–June 10 Mars, Saturn, Venus, & Jupiter in SE sky, before sunrise • November 4,5 Taurids Meteor Shower • August 12, 13 Perseids Meteor Shower • October 21, 22 Orionids Meteor Shower • November 17,18 Leonids Meteor Shower If you’re up for the challenge, here are two other great sunset-viewing locations. • April 22,23 Lyrids Meteor Shower South Rim. Get a permit for a South Rim backcountry campsite. Rewards for this 14mile backpacking trip are seeing the sunset from the top of a 2,000 ft. cliff. Wake up early to see sunrise too! • May 16 Total Lunar Eclipse • December 8 Mars in opposition, biggest & brightest of the year • June 14 Strawberry Supermoon • December 13,14 Geminids Meteor Shower • June 21 Summer Solstice • December 21 Winter Solstice • July 13 Buck Supermoon • December 21,22 Ursids Meteor Shower Rio Grande Nature Trail. In Rio Grande Village, hike the short Nature Trail from campsite 18 for a 360 degree view of Mexico, the Rio Grande, and the Chisos Mountains. Old Ore Road. If you have a 4x4 vehicle and nerves of steel, the Old Ore Road offers great views of the Chisos Mountains and the badlands to the west. Take your camp chair and set up on the hill above McKinney Springs for an awesome sunset experience. Sunset from Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. Sunset on Sierra del Carmens, taken from the road. • May 6,7 Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower • November 30 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse • July 28, 29 Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower Sunset from the Window View Trail, Chisos Basin. Silhouette of Mule Ears at sunset. Of Darkness & Solitude One of the foundational concepts of the national parks was the idea that solitude and wildness is a necessary component of a healthy society. Artificial light detracts from the natural environment and contributes to the degradation of ecosystems wherever artificial light exists. Yet, it is still being installed at a great rate nationwide. As the National Park Service grew in the early 20th century, most parks and monuments that were being added to the system were in the western United States, and for the most part, wild and dark— unfettered by artificial light. At the time, many writers, commentators, and thinkers believed that preserving nature, to be used as a place of refreshment and rejuvenation, a link to days past, was necessary for a balanced civilization. These thoughts and ideas gave rise to the National Park Service. As humans have continued to “light the night” with ever-increasing vigor, places like Big Bend become even more important as 4 The Paisano Oases of Darkness. These Oases provide a place to escape the bounds of the city or civilization. A place to revert to a time when nature was part of the human existence. Parks like Big Bend preserve not only darkness for the benefit of people; more importantly, they allow plants and animals to thrive in environments that each and every species evolved to exist in—cycles of light and dark, varying in length only by the seasons, for millions of years. Resource scientists, through extensive research, have found that both plants and animals are having difficulty adapting to artificial light. In some species, migration and reproductive cycles are disturbed by this light. Predator and prey relationships are altered as nocturnal adaptations are interrupted or made difficult by this same human-caused element. Yet the amount of artificial light continues to expand. Every day. Seemingly without end. What will be the ramifications for the future? Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest places in the lower 48 states. As such, it is a place where nature exists on terms nature decided many eons ago. It is also a place of solitude, where people can recapture a part of themselves that in many cases has been suppressed by careers, distance, time, or anything that keeps them from being in nature. Solitude and darkness as a component of wildness. Wildness as a space for reflection. Solitude and darkness can be a fearful place, but when met with a mindset of potential, can be a place to soothe the soul, and the very reason the national parks were created. Park Ranger Bob Smith Things to Do Five Tips for Backroads Travel Ready to test your vehicle and yourself? Safely exploring Big Bend’s miles of backcountry roads is an unforgettable experience. Big Bend National Park hugs the Mexican border and sprawls over 801,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert. With its rugged mountains, steep canyons, and miles of dirt roads, it’s a national park for the truly adventurous. Extra water can fill radiators, assist travelers that underestimated their water needs, or keep you alive if you get stranded. However, the desert doesn’t suffer fools lightly. The heat, scarcity of water, and tortuous terrain can be fatal. The key to an enjoyable experience is adequate preparation and a respectful approach to the desert. Because it’s so hot, short-sleeved shirts and shorts are tempting, but long pants, longsleeved shirts, a hat, and boots are best. Check It Out Before your vehicle leaves the pavement, make sure you (and your vehicle) are ready. Do you enjoy slow, bone-jarring drives? Do you know how to use 4-wheel drive? Do you have a jack? Check the air in your spare. Flats occur frequently. Dress Appropriately & Wear a Bandana If your heart’s desire is a campsite on the River Road or Old Maverick Road, get your permit at the Panther Junction Visitor Center up to 24 hours in advance. These sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so have some options in mind just in case your dream site is already taken. Hire a Guide Not sure you’re up for the challenge? Hire a guide and a vehicle! Check the back page of The Paisano for contact numbers of authorized local outfitters. Park Ranger C.A. Hoyt Be sure to take a colorful bandana. You can wipe the sweat from your brow or soak the bandana in water, roll it up, and wear it around your neck for instant cooling. Brightly-colored bandanas also help rescuers spot you, should you find yourself in trouble. Where to Stay Take More Water As you drive, you’ll pass campsites with awesome views and spectacular solitude. If you want to camp there, you MUST have a backcountry permit. The sun, wind, and high temperatures mean that it’s easy to get dehydrated. Always take more water than you think you can use. Campsites on Old Ore Road and most of the improved dirt roads can be reserved up to six months in advance on Recreation.gov. A high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicle navigates the ruts of Black Gap Road. Hike to Ernst Tinaja Are you ready for a backroads adventure? Ernst Tinaja is off the paved road, but well worth the journey. Tinajas (pronounced “tin AH ha s”) are jar or scoop-shaped bedrock depressions that hold rainwater. Ernst Tinaja is one of the best examples in the park. Tinajas can form naturally in several ways but we think Ernst was started when floodwaters swirled sand and gravel around a natural depression, grinding away the bedrock until a deep hole formed. Ernst Tinaja is located 5 miles from the southern entrance of the primitive Old Ore Road on the park’s east side. Visitors with high clearance SUVs, trucks, and all-wheeldrive vehicles typically have little trouble reaching the trailhead. Just remember that 25 MPH is the speed limit on backcountry roads. On Old Ore Road, that would probably be too fast—slow and steady gets you there in about 30 minutes! The tinaja is one-half mile from the parking area. You’ll walk backwards in time through geological layers exposed by moving water that cut the small canyon through this ridge in the Dead Horse Mountains. The trail begins in the wash itself, but about halfway to the tinaja, it veers to the left to avoid a series of thin, flat limestone beds that angle upwards from the bottom of the wash. Spend a few minutes examining these limestone beds. You may discover 90 million-year-old clam, oyster, and ammonite fossils. Beyond the limestone obstacles, the trail returns to the wash bottom. As you approach the tinaja, the canyon chokes down into a narrow slot of thinly-bedded and brightlycolored stone that is noticeably tilted upwards away from you. Ernst Tinaja is just above this choke point in a thick bed of lighter-colored limestone. Notice how the thin layers of brightly-colored rock were compressed and distorted into accordionlike folds as the mountains were uplifted millions of years ago. Late afternoon is the best time to photograph the area; however, the canyon’s shade can intensify the colorful layers at almost any time of day. You can continue up the canyon for about a mile, walking through an interesting slickrock canyon. Remember: this is NOT an area where you want to be if rain is imminent—there are very few places where you could escape a flash flood coming down this canyon! Ernst Tinaja features spectacular geology and deep pools called “tinajas.” Pets in the Park To return to the main road from Ernst Tinaja, retrace your route south on the Old Ore Road. Old Ore Road north of Ernst Tinaja is one of the roughest roads in the park. It may take 3 more hours of difficult driving with a high-clearance AND 4-wheeldrive vehicle to complete the journey to the pavement. Park Ranger J. Duke Having a pet with you may limit some of your 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. • Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go. • Pets must 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 kennel your pet. The Alpine Veterninary Clinic (432.837.3888) and the Alpine Small Animal Clinic (432.837.5416) offer these services. • Park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles. 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 erosion-formed 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 feet or trailers longer than 20 feet. Rio Grande Village The drive to Rio Grande Village traverses ancient limestone and has marvelous vistas of the magnificent Sierra del Carmens. Along the way is the oasis at Dugout Wells, and a spur road leads to the popular Hot Springs. Rio Grande Village 1850 ft 564 m Continue the drive to Boquillas Canyon, where a shor