by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Big Bend

National Park - Texas

Big Bend National Park is in southwest Texas and includes the entire Chisos mountain range and a large swath of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive leads to the ruins of Sam Nail Ranch, now home to desert wildlife. The Santa Elena Canyon, carved by the Rio Grande, features steep limestone cliffs. Langford Hot Springs, near the Mexican border, has pictographs and the foundations of an old bathhouse.

location

maps

Official visitor map of Big Bend National Park (NP) in Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Big Bend - Visitor Map

Official visitor map of Big Bend National Park (NP) in Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Exploration Map of the Fresno Canyon area in Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.Big Bend Ranch - Fresno Canyon

Exploration Map of the Fresno Canyon area in Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Discovery Map of Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.Big Bend Ranch - Discovery Map

Discovery Map of Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

brochures

Visitor Guide to Big Bend National Park (NP) in Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Big Bend - Visitor Guide 2022

Visitor Guide to Big Bend National Park (NP) in Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/bibe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bend_National_Park Big Bend National Park is in southwest Texas and includes the entire Chisos mountain range and a large swath of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive leads to the ruins of Sam Nail Ranch, now home to desert wildlife. The Santa Elena Canyon, carved by the Rio Grande, features steep limestone cliffs. Langford Hot Springs, near the Mexican border, has pictographs and the foundations of an old bathhouse. There is a place in Far West Texas where night skies are dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. Here, at the end of the road, hundreds of bird species take refuge in a solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert. Tenacious cactus bloom in sublime southwestern sun, and diversity of species is the best in the country. This magical place is Big Bend... Several highways lead to Big Bend National Park: TX 118 from Alpine to Study Butte or FM 170 from Presidio to Study Butte (then 26 miles east to park headquarters) or US 90 or US 385 to Marathon (then 70 miles south to park headquarters). Distances between towns and services are considerable. Be sure you have plenty of gas, food, water, and supplies for your trip. Castolon Visitor Center Located in the Castolon Historic District, the Castolon Visitor Center is open daily during the winter months. River use permits are issued during normal business hours, and entrance fees can be paid at the Castolon Visitor Center. The Castolon Visitor Center has a Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore and nearby restrooms. The visitor center is currently housed in the historic Officer's Quarters building. Stop by to meet a ranger and plan your adventure. The Castolon Visitor Center is located within the Castolon Historic District of Big Bend National Park. The site is located along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, approximately 8 miles from the Santa Elena Canyon trailhead. The visitor center is inside the historic officer's quarters building. Chisos Basin Visitor Center The Chisos Basin Visitor Center includes interactive exhibits on plants, animals, and birds found in the Chisos Mountains. Backcountry and river use permits are issued during normal business hours, and entrance fees can be paid at the visitor center. A Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore and restrooms are located at the visitor center. A water faucet is available on the east side of the building for filling personal water containers The Chisos Basin Visitor Center is located in the Basin developed area, 10 miles southwest of Panther Junction. Panther Junction Visitor Center Panther Junction Visitor Center is the best place to begin your visit. Backcountry & river use permits are issued here. Entrance fees can be paid here. Exhibits provide an overview of geology & natural and cultural histories of the park. The visitor center also has a theater with a park orientation movie shown upon request.The visitor center complex includes a Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore, U.S. Post Office, and restrooms. A water faucet is available for filling personal water containers Panther Junction Visitor Center is located in the center of the park. It is 68 miles south of the town of Marathon, and 29 miles east of the town of Study Butte. Persimmon Gap Visitor Center Located at the north entrance to the park, Persimmon Gap Visitor Center offers park orientation and information. The visitor center has exhibits, bookstore, mini-theater, and restrooms. River permits for the Lower Canyons are issued during normal business hours, and entrance fees can be paid at the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center. The Persimmon Gap Visitor Center is located on Hwy 385, 42 miles south of the town of Marathon, Texas, and 26 miles north of Panther Junction. Rio Grande Village Visitor Center The Rio Grande Village Visitor Center is located 0.25 miles north of the Rio Grande Village developed area. New exhibits focus on the Rio Grande (how it has changed over time, how the NPS works with our Mexican counterparts to protect and care for it, and the rich assemblage of species that it supports). An outdoor ramada showcases a large raised-relief map of the area, and life-sized bronze sculptures showcase some of the area's special wildlife. River use permits are issued during normal business hours. Rio Grande Village Visitor Center is located 0.25 miles north of the Rio Grande Village developed area, and 20 miles east of Panther Junction. Chisos Basin Campground The Chisos Basin Campground is nestled in an open woodland within a scenic mountain basin. Campers enjoy the iconic views of Casa Grande and Emory Peak. The sunset through the nearby "Window" is a Big Bend highlight. Some of the park's most popular trails begin nearby. Elevation is 5,400 feet. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Trailers over 20 feet and RV's over 24 feet are not recommended due to the narrow, winding road to the Basin and small campsites. Campsite Fee 16.00 Per night. Campsite capacity is maximum of 8 people and two vehicles. Reservations required through www.recreation.gov. Park entrance fees are separate from campground fees. An entrance pass is required in the park and while staying in the campground. View of Casa Grande View of Casa Grande View of Casa Grande from the campground Chisos Basin Campground Chisos Basin Campground Nice views from the campsites in the Chisos Basin Campground View of the Window View of the Window from Basin campsite A nice view of the Window from a Basin campsite Basin campground area Basin campground area Basin campground area Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground is a quiet oasis in the western corner of Big Bend National Park. Reservations are required. Conveniently located between the Castolon Historic District, the scenic Santa Elena Canyon and the tail end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, this small, 22-site campground is one of the least-known and quiet campgrounds in the park. There is one group campsite and 21 individual sites. This is a remote campground in a remote park. It is dry camping, no hook-ups, and no generators are permitted. Campsite Fee 16.00 Per night. Reservations required through www.recreation.gov Pit toilets, picnic tables, grills, and water are available. No dump station, no generators allowed. Campsite capacity is maximum of 8 people and two vehicles. Park entrance fees are separate from campground fees. An entrance pass is required in the park and while staying in the campground. Enjoying the scene Campers enjoying Cottonwood Campground Campers enjoying Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground is located in the shade of a small grove of cottonwood trees. Cottonwood view Cottonwood campground view Cottonwoods and acacia trees provide shelter and shade to campers. Colorful foliage Colorful foliage Golden cottonwood leaves at cottonwood campground Rio Grande Village Campground Set in a grove of cottonwoods and acacia trees, the Rio Grande Village Campground is located near the Rio Grande. Elevation: 1,850 feet. Paved roads connect each campsite, and grassy areas separate each site. Flush toilets, running water, picnic tables, grills, and some overhead shelters. Dump station nearby. Campers enjoy birdwatching, hiking, exploring. A camp store with showers and a park visitor center are nearby. Campground Fee 16.00 Per night. Campsite capacity is maximum of 8 people and two vehicles. Reservations required through www.recreation.gov. Park entrance fees are separate from campground fees. An entrance pass is required in the park and while staying in the campground. Rio Grande Village Campground Rio Grande Village Campground The Rio Grande Village campground is located near the Rio Grande and Mexico. Nice views above the campground Nice views above campground Nice views above the campground along the nature trail Rio Grande Village Campers Rio Grande Village Campers Camping at Rio Grande Village Grassy areas in the Campground Grassy areas in the Campground Grassy areas in the Campground Rio Grande Village RV Open, paved lot with grassy, tree-lined edges. Adjacent to the Rio Grande Village camp store. This campground, operated by Forever Resorts, has the only full hook-ups in the park. 25-site RV park (full hook-ups—water, electrical, and 3-inch sewer connection). All sites are back-in only. Tents are NOT permitted. Operated by the park's concessioner, Forever Resorts. Periodically, a few sites may not be available for a 40' or longer RVs due to the size of the parking lot and orientation of the spaces. RV camping fee 36.00 $36 double occupancy, with a $3 per additional person charge. Front Desk Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Daily Rio Grande Village RV sites Rio Grande Village RV sites Hookups for water sewer and electricity. Rio Grande Village RV Campground Rio Grande Village RV Campground Rio Grande Village RV Campground is the only camping with hookups available in the park. RV Hookups are very popular RVs lined up in Rio Grande Village RV campground RV Hookups are very popular. Blooming Cenizo Blooming Cenizo Cenizo, or Big Bend Silverleaf blossoms after summer rains. Century Plant Agave Century Plant Agave Century Plants bloom only once in their long lives. Vermilion Flycatcher Vermilion Flycatcher Big Bend is home to over 450 species of birds! Fascinating Geology Fascinating Geology Volcanic features abound near Castolon Desert Scenery Desert Scenery Big Bend is a prime example of Chihuahuan Desert Santa Elena Canyon Santa Elena Canyon Santa Elena Canyon View from the South Rim of the Chisos View from the South Rim of the Chisos Big Bend is a place of expansive views Rio Grande Scene Rio Grande Scene The Rio Grande serves as the park's southern boundary Blooming Ocotillo Blooming Ocotillo When ocotillo bloom, they transform the desert Balanced Rock Balanced Rock The balanced rock is a popular day hiking destination. Top of the Lost Mine Trail Top of the Lost Mine Trail Hiking the Lost Mine Trail affords many amazing views. Chisos Mountains Chisos Mountains The Chisos Mountains rise above the desert NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Big Bend National Park, Texas Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. [Site Under Development] canyon, river, and cliffs 2012 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Recipients of the 2012 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards 2008 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Recipients of the 2008 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards 2014 Recipients: George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service Discover the inspirational stories and amazing dedication of volunteers honored with the 2014 Hartzog Award. Volunteer Thelma Johnson standing with her cooking equipment Big Bend National Park Reptile and Amphibian Inventory The reptiles and amphibians of many of the most diverse areas of the park were already well known, so this inventory focused primarily on three mountain ranges that were not previously surveyed: the Sierra Quemada south of the Chisos Mountains, the Sierra del Caballo Muerto on the eastern edge of the park, and the Mesa de Anguila in the southwestern corner of the park. Camouflaged trans-pecos ratsnake A Century of Candelilla: Wax-Processing Camps in Big Bend National Park Candelilla (or "wax weed") harvesting has occurred in Big Bend for over a century. Archeologists investigated wax-making camps and factories where laborers, many of whom were Latino, lived and worked each day. Burros transporting candelilla bundles. It’s Alive! Biological Soil Crusts of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts It might come as a surprise to learn that in the sublime expanses of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, some of the most interesting life around can be found in the dirt right in front of your feet! Biological soil crusts form a living groundcover that is the foundation of desert plant life. Soil crust at White Sands National Monument National Park Service Aviation Personnel Attend DOI National Pilot Ground School During the week of December 10, 2017, twenty-eight National Park Service (NPS) airplane and helicopter pilots, pilot trainees, national and regional aviation staff attended the 2017 DOI National Pilot Ground School (NPGS). The weeklong training brought together over 100 DOI pilots from the NPS, US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and DOI’s Office of Aviation Services (OAS). A group of 17 men stand in front of a room. Climate Change and the Chihuahuan Desert The Chihuahuan Desert Network is currently developing protocols to monitor several vital signs that may reflect current and future impacts of climate change. This brief offers a summary of how Chihuahuan Desert Network monitoring will detect future change. Smith Springs is one of many springs that serve as a water source for plants & animals in the CHDN. Rio Grande Cane Prescribed Fire Reduces Exotic Fuels in Big Bend National Park The Rio Grande Cane prescribed fire in March 2014 reduced exotic fuels, loss of diversity, and flooding risk along the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. An international and interagency crew worked the fire. A firefighter stands near the bank of a river observing a fire. Big Bend National Park Fresno Fire Honored as Southwest Fire Science Incident of the Year The Southwest Fire Science Consortium honored the Fresno Fire at Big Bend National Park as the Incident of the Year 2016 for fire managers’ efforts to safely maximize beneficial fire. aerial view of smoke in the mountains Historic Visibility Studies in National Parks Haze can negatively impact how well people can see and appreciate our national parks across the country. This article summarizes the visibility studies from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s aimed at identifying the sources of haze causing pollution at specific parks and improving visibility monitoring methods. Big bend national park river Park Air Profiles - Big Bend National Park Air quality profile for Big Bend National Park. Gives park-specific information about air quality and air pollution impacts for Big Bend NP as well as the studies and monitoring conducted for Big Bend NP. Cactus and desert landscape in Big Bend NP Air Quality Monitoring in the Southern Plains and Chihuahuan Desert Networks Both the Clean Air Act and the National Park Service Organic Act protect air resources in national parks. Park resources affected by air quality include scenery and vistas, vegetation, water, and wildlife. Over the past three decades, the National Park Service has developed several internal and cooperative programs for monitoring various measures of air quality. Cactus and clear skies at Tonto National Monument Air Quality in the Chihuahuan Desert Three park units in the Chihuahuan Desert Network, Big Bend National Park (NP), Carlsbad Caverns NP, and Guadalupe Mountains NP are designated as Class I air quality areas under the Clean Air Act. Class I areas receive the highest protection under the act, and degradation of air quality must be minimal. Air quality concerns include atmospheric deposition effects and visibility impairment from fine particle haze. Rugged landscape under a partly cloudy sky at Big Bend National Park Monitoring Upland Vegetation and Soils in the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert Networks Vegetation and soils are two of many natural resources monitored by the National Park Service (NPS) Division of Inventory & Monitoring (I&M). Learning about vegetation dynamics helps us to better understand the integrity of ecological processes, productivity trends, and ecosystem interactions that can otherwise be difficult to monitor. In NPS units of the American Southwest, three I&M networks monitor vegetation and soils using the scientific protocol described here. Quadrat used for biological soil crust sampling Chihuahuan Desert Plant Responses to Climate Change Determining the impact of climate on vegetation is especially important in desert regions that are prone to land degradation. Vegetation changes can dramatically change the productive capacity and diversity of a site, alter food and habitat for wildlife, and affect soil erosion, carbon and nutrient cycling. White tufted evening primrose flower Big Bend Bird Studies Big Bend National Park, located within the bend of the Rio Grande in southwestern Texas, encompasses the largest protected area representative of the Chihuahuan Desert. More than 450 species of birds have been recorded at the park, including some unique Mexican species that range into the U.S. only along the border. A vermillion flycatcher, a bright red bird with a black eye mask and wings, perched on a bare branch 2005 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Recipients of the 2005 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Exotic Plants Monitoring in the Southern Plains and Chihuahuan Desert National parks, like other publicly managed lands, are deluged by new exotic species arriving through predictable (e.g., road, trail, and riparian corridors), sudden (e.g., long distance dispersal through cargo containers and air freight), and unexpected anthropogenic pathways (e.g., weed seeds mixed in with restoration planting mixes). Landscape with a uniform, green foreground consisting of invasive kochia Of Night Skies & Kerosene Lamps Growing up in a small city in Colorado, seeing the Milky Way galaxy was a nightly experience. As time went on, the city got larger, more lights appeared, the Milky Way was more difficult to see. A sky filled with stars towers over the desert landscape. The Darkness That Refreshes The Big Bend is dark. Probably darker than where you are from. It is so dark, that some people feel uncomfortable, as super dark nights are not what they are accustomed to. A slight crescent moon is lit from the bottom; a planet nearby is similarly lit. Protecting Life, Large & Small Why worry about a tiny fish or one species of grass, which, if it were to disappear would hardly be noticed by most people? Pink-purple cup shaped flowers with black and yellow centers bloom on a low growing cactus. Fossil Discovery Exhibit at Big Bend National Park In January 2017, a new fossil exhibit was dedicated at Big Bend National Park. The exhibit was the 20 year dream of park geologist Don Corrick. Through careful planning and strategic partnering, a design was put forth and funded. Park visitors who tour the new exhibit will be provided a wonderful fossil-focused experience and learn about the important fossil record preserved at Big Bend National Park. painting of four giant pterosaurs Wildland Fire in Ponderosa Pine: Western United States This forest community generally exists in areas with annual rainfall of 25 inches or less. Extensive pure stands of this forest type are found in the southwestern U.S., central Washington and Oregon, southern Idaho and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Recently burned ponderosa pine forest. Big Bend National Park Conducts Prescribed Burn While Taking Coronavirus Precautions Big Bend National Park Conducts Prescribed Burn While Taking Coronavirus Precautions Aerial view of prescribed fire along riverbank The Legacy Of The Civilian Conservation Corps At Big Bend Picture it: A steamy summer morning in Big Bend. The year is 1934. Reveille has just sounded on a bugle, and a company of young men, already sweating from the heat in their tar paper huts, start to rise. They pull on their blue jean dungarees, load themselves into one-and-a-half ton trucks, and make the steep drive out of the Chisos Basin, stopping twice to pour water on the vehicles' struggling radiators. Young men take a break from road work in a 1930s photo. Hot Water, Health, & History For J.O. Langford and his family, the hot springs along the Rio Grande represented health, business and home. And for several decades in the early 20th century, they were also the center of a desert community. The stone foundation of a hot springs bath house remains abuts a river. Of Darkness & Solitude Parks like Big Bend preserve not only darkness for the benefit of people, more importantly, they allow flora and fauna 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. Bright stars and wisps of galactic dust glow in a deep blue night sky. Soldiers Along The Border In the years before it became a national park, Big Bend's remoteness favored banditry along the border-- and an increased U.S. military presence. Remnants of the Big Bend’s military history remain near Glenn Springs and Castolon. More than twenty mounted cavalrymen and their horses pose for a photo in 1916. The Unusual Ocotillo At first glance, ocotillo looks like a large shrub that died-- just a cluster of drab, gray stalks covered in sharp half inch 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. Two thorny plant stalks grow side by side, one with small oval leaves and another without. Multi-subject Photo Prompts Inspire learning with photographs from Big Bend National Park. Each photograph has links to related articles and suggested prompts for writing, science, art, math, and history.  This mud was wet, dry, and slightly wet again, leaving cracks and raindrop impressions. Survey of Winter-resident Grassland Birds In winter of 2002 and 2003, an independent researcher began conducting a two-year inventory of winter-resident birds in grasslands in two parks in the National Park Service’s Chihuahuan Desert Network. The objective of this study was to inventory selected grassland habitats in Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains national parks for the presence, diversity, and abundance of wintering bird species. Rufous-crowned sparrow at Guadalupe Mountains National Park Southwest River Environments In the arid Southwest, water means life, and prehistorically, rivers were the lifelines of the people. The Colorado River flowing through a canyon Southern Basin and Range The Southern Basin and Range is an extension of the Basin and Range Province centered on Nevada and the Great Basin and extending from southern Oregon to western Texas, and into northwest Mexico. Mountains and Desert in Guadalupe Mountains National Park Prescribed Burn Reduces Exotic Fuels The Fire Management Office at Big Bend National Park, in conjunction with the park's Science and Resource Management Division, completed a prescribed burn April 4-9, 2016 Approximately 110 acres were burned to manage invasive river cane along the Rio Grande. Firefighters reach river cane by boat for ignition during a prescribed burn along the Rio Grande Climate Monitoring in the Southern Plains, Sonoran Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert Climate is one of many ecological indicators monitored by the National Park Service (NPS) Division of Inventory & Monitoring (I&M). Climate data help scientists to understand ecosystem processes and help to explain many of the patterns and trends observed in other natural-resource monitoring. In NPS units of the American Southwest, three I&M networks monitor climate using the scientific protocol described here. Kayaking across a fl ooded parking lot, Chickasaw NRA, July 2007. Wildfire Strikes Castolon Historic District in Big Bend National Park On May 22, 2019, a fire in Mexico jumped the Rio Grande. With temperatures around 110°F the fire spread rapidly. Wind 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. View the story map for a visual summary of the actions taken that day and lessons learned. A firefighter talks on the radio while monitoring a fire. Series: Geologic Time Periods in the Cenozoic Era The Cenozoic Era (66 million years ago [MYA] through today) is the "Age of Mammals." North America’s characteristic landscapes began to develop during the Cenozoic. Birds and mammals rose in prominence after the extinction of giant reptiles. Common Cenozoic fossils include cat-like carnivores and early horses, as well as ice age woolly mammoths. fossils on display at a visitor center Series: Geologic Time Periods in the Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available. park scene mountains Series: NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Since 2002, the National Park Service (NPS) has awarded Environmental Achievement (EA) Awards to recognize staff and partners in the area of environmental preservation, protection and stewardship. A vehicle charges at an Electric Vehicle charging station at Thomas Edison National Historical Park Series: The Wild Dark Skies Of Big Bend Most people live with such an abundance of light that very few stars can be seen. Big Bend National Park is a refreshing exception. A series of essays examines our relationship to the diminishing realm of dark. Stars shine as the Milky Way backlights the silhouette of a mountain range. Series: Chihuahuan Desert Network Reptile and Amphibian Inventories In 2003 and 2004, the University of Arizona conducted an inventory of reptiles and amphibians (herpetofauna) in six National Park Service Chihuahuan Desert Network parks. Primary objectives of this inventory were to document reptile and amphibian species, map the distribution of all species found, and determine a rough relative abundance for each species. Trans-Pecos ratsnake Series: Defining the Southwest The Southwest has a special place in the American imagination – one filled with canyon lands, cacti, roadrunners, perpetual desert heat, a glaring sun, and the unfolding of history in places like Tombstone and Santa Fe. In the American mind, the Southwest is a place without boundaries – a land with its own style and its own pace – a land that ultimately defies a single definition. Maize agriculture is one component of a general cultural definition of the Southwest. Series: Park Air Profiles Clean air matters for national parks around the country. Photo of clouds above the Grand Canyon, AZ Series: Park Paleontology News - Vol. 09, No. 1, Spring 2017 All across the park system, scientists, rangers, and interpreters are engaged in the important work of studying, protecting, and sharing our rich fossil heritage. <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/newsletters.htm">Park Paleontology News</a> provides a close up look at the important work of caring for these irreplaceable resources. <ul><li>Contribute to Park Paleontology News by contacting the <a href="https://www.nps.gov/common/utilities/sendmail/sendemail.cfm?o=5D8CD5B898DDBB8387BA1DBBFD02A8AE4FBD489F4FF88B9049&r=/subjects/geoscientistsinparks/photo-galleries.htm">newsletter editor</a></li><li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/">Fossils & Paleontology</a> </li><li>Celebrate <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/">National Fossil Day</a> with events across the nation</li></ul> NPS Paleontology logo illustration with fossil icons Cretaceous Period—145.0 to 66.0 MYA Many now-arid western parks, including Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Mesa Verde National Park, were inundated by the Cretaceous Interior Seaway that bisected North America. Massive dinosaur and other reptile fossils are found in Cretaceous rocks of Big Bend National Park. dinosaur footprint in stone Quaternary Period—2.58 MYA to Today Massive ice sheets advanced and retreated across North America during much of the Quaternary, carving landscapes in many parks. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve contains geologic evidence of lower sea level during glacial periods, facilitating the prehistoric peopling of the Americas. The youngest rocks in the NPS include the lava of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the travertine at Yellowstone National Park, which can be just a few hours old. fossil bone bed and murals of mammoths Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Paleogene Period—66.0 to 23.0 MYA Colorful Paleogene rocks are exposed in the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park and the badlands of Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt national parks. Extraordinary Paleogene fossils are found in Fossil Butte and John Day Fossil Beds national monuments, among other parks. fossil skull with teeth expsoed Neogene Period—23.0 to 2.58 MYA Some of the finest Neogene fossils on the planet are found in the rocks of Agate Fossil Beds and Hagerman Fossil Beds national monuments. fossils on display in a visitor center Cenozoic Era The Cenozoic Era (66 million years ago [MYA] through today) is the "Age of Mammals." North America’s characteristic landscapes began to develop during the Cenozoic. Birds and mammals rose in prominence after the extinction of giant reptiles. Common Cenozoic fossils include cat-like carnivores and early horses, as well as ice age woolly mammoths. fossils on display in a visitor center Top Ten Tips for Visiting Big Bend Top ten tips for visiting Big Bend. A ranger on a trail points to a sign about bear and mountain lion safety. “Wandering” Through Park Skies: How Peregrine Falcons Connect National Parks Peregrine falcons live across the world and can be found throughout the United States. Learn how four national parks are connecting visitors to these remarkable birds. A brown falcon sits on a green metal spike over water with a boat Volcanic Processes—Lahars Lahars are volcanic mudflows and are among the most destructive of volcanic phenomena. Lahars present significant geohazards since they can travel great distances down river valleys and impact population centers away from the immediate area of a volcano. wide river valley filled with sediment and snowy peaks in the distance Maars and Tuff Rings Maars and tuff rings are low-standing pyroclastic cones with large craters that usually form from highly-explosive eruptions caused by the interaction of magma with ground or surface waters. Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park is a maar. lakeshore and tundra Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios. Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background Volcanic Domes Lava domes are steep-sided rounded accumulations of highly viscous silicic lava over a vent. Some domes are part of composite volcanoes, but large ones can make up their own volcanoes. Lassen Peak is a dome. photo of a rounded hill of blocky rock Presidios of the Spanish Frontier The presidio ruins were not impressive at first glance. After careful examination, archeologists recognized the outlines of structures and identified how much of the complexes still remained. In most areas, the floors are well-protected under a blanket of fallen and dissolved wall, preserving the objects used by the Spanish and indigenous men, women, and children that inhabited the Big Bend. Blue and white ceramic sherd Women in Landscape-Scale Conservation: Denise Louie Denise Louie started her career in landscape-scale conservation in Big Bend National Park in the 1990s, when she was able to work with biologists across the border, in protected areas in Mexico. closeup of woman wearing a lei over her clothes

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