Big Bend Ranch
Complex Map of Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
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CLOSED CANYON THE HOODOOS FORT LEATON STATE HISTORIC SITE OJITO ADENTRO THE FLATIRONS OF THE SOLITARIO WELCOME TO THE BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK COMPLEX – EL DESPOBLADO El Despoblado means “the uninhabited place.” It is a name used over centuries to describe the northern Chihuahuan Desert — a name that implies a sense of emptiness. Yet Big Bend Ranch State Park is far from empty. The park offers 500 square miles of unrivaled geology, spectacular vistas and night skies, diverse plant and animal life, and evidence of over 10,000 years of human occupation. GEOLOGY COMPLEX MAP BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK VISITOR CENTERS Barton Warnock Visitor Center (Eastern Entrance) 21800 FM 170, Terlingua, TX 79852 (432) 242-3327 Fort Leaton State Historic Site (Western Entrance) 16952 FM 170 E, Presidio, TX 79845 (432) 229-3613 Sauceda Ranger Station (Interior) 1900 S. Sauceda Ranch Road, Marfa, TX 79843 (432) 358-4444 www.tpwd.texas.gov Cover Photo: Chase A. Fountain, TPWD ©2021 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Interior Photos: Gary Nored PWD MP P4501-0152AA (2/21) In accordance with Texas State Depository Law, this publication is available at the Texas State Publications Clearinghouse and/or Texas Depository Libraries. TPWD receives funds from the USFWS. TPWD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, and gender, pursuant to state and federal law. To request an accommodation or obtain information in an alternative format, please contact TPWD on a Text Telephone (TTY) at (512) 389-8915 or by Relay Texas at 7-1-1 or (800) 735-2989 or by email at email@example.com. If you believe you have been discriminated against by TPWD, please contact TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office for Diversity and Workforce Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. The geology of Big Bend Ranch State Park reminds us of profound changes over the past 600 million years of Earth’s history — changes born of water and fire. A deep ocean, the Ouachita Basin, covered the Big Bend and much of the southeastern United States some 570 million years ago, long before the age of dinosaurs. One may see remnants of the Ouachita Mountains in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and West Texas, including The Solitario at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Erosion and uplift worked together to expose the limestone rock of this ancient sea floor in the Contrabando lowlands and the upended “flatirons” that form the rim of the Solitario. The Solitario is a feature born of fire. Between 36 and 35 million years ago, magma from deep within the Earth pushed upward in three pulses to create a blister-like bulge nearly 10 miles across near the park’s eastern boundary. Following erosion and a complex series of eruptions, the uplifted sedimentary rock and the underlying lava chamber collapsed to form the almost circular basin-like feature known today as the Solitario. Volcanism remained at work in the region. As you pass the dark peaks and mesas between Redford and Lajitas or along the Sauceda road, imagine glowing cone-like vents and gaping fissures that once spewed red-hot ash and molten rock. Lava from these eruptions eventually hardened into the rhyolite and basalt rock that form the Bofecillos Mountains, whose many cracks and fissures trap groundwater and account for the region’s numerous springs — life-giving oases in the desert. HUMAN HISTORY Diverse people have lived among the canyons, mountains and valleys of Big Bend Ranch State Park for centuries, typically near water sources. The materials and structures they left behind tell stories of triumph and hardship in this sometimes hospitable but often relentless land. Hundreds of prehistoric camps, cooking areas and rock art sites dot Big Bend Ranch. Grinding stones, bedrock mortars, flint tools and burned rock middens indicate that the hunter-gatherers living here used every natural resource available to survive in the demanding environment. Prehistoric pictographs (rock paintings) and a few petroglyphs (rock etchings or carvings) showcase the amazing diversity of rock art styles preserved in the park. A handful of traders and freighters such as Ben Leaton and Milton Faver were the first Anglo-Americans to settle the area in the mid-1800s. By the 1870s, small family ranches began to spring up, raising much of their own food and herding sheep and goats. Park visitors today can see remains of the Crawford-Smith, McGuirk, Reza and Madrid houses among others. Remnants of a wax factory and several camps remain in Fresno and Contrabando Canyons, where thousands of pounds of wax were extracted from candelilla plants and sold as waterproofing for World War I army tents. Nearby, the Whit-Roy Mine produced flasks of mercury from cinnabar ore into the 1960s. FLORA Vegetation throughout the park exists in a moisturedependent mosaic, sometimes lush but more often sparse. Native plants range from arid-adapted cacti to water-loving cottonwoods. Common species of succulent include varieties of prickly pear and cholla. Ocotillo is a common desert shrub in the region. FAUNA Animals exhibit similar variety, from water-dependent beavers along the river to desert specialists like the black-throated sparrow. The park is home to large mammals, such as black bear, and the Big Bend’s tertiary predator, mountain lions. Mule deer and non-native aoudad are important components of mountain lion diets. The park is also the eastern-most range boundary for the Mojave rattlesnake, occurring alongside black-tail, mottled rock, and western diamond back rattlesnakes. CLIMATE Big Bend Ranch State Park is located in the rugged terrain of the northern Chihuahuan Desert. The park receives less than 10 inches of rain per year, mostly occurring as monsoonal summer storms. During monsoon season, dry creek beds (arroyos) are prone to severe flash flooding. Desert temperatures can fluctuate by 40 degrees on the same day. Pack and dress accordingly. Summer temperatures often exceed 110 degrees. SAFETY Remember where you are. There is very little shade in the desert. Dress accordingly: long sleeves and widebrimmed hats are recommended in addition to sunscreen and sunglasses. Cell phone coverage is unreliable or non-existent in the park. Bring plenty of food and water for long day hikes. All water from spring sources should be treated or filtered before being consumed. Big Bend Ranch State Park protects habitat for large mammal species, including black bears and mountain lions. Follow these tips to enjoy wildlife while preventing human-wildlife conflicts: • Observe wildlife from a safe distance. • Do not feed or attempt to catch wildlife. • Do not run if you encounter a bear or mountain lion in the field. Make noise, take action to make yourself look large, and back slowly away from the animal. • Rattlesnakes are common and can be active year-round in the desert. Be careful where you step and place your hands. Listen for the rattling warning signal. LEAVE NO TRACE ETHICS Please help us maintain a pristine wilderness setting in our park by practicing the: Leave No Trace Seven Principles 1. Plan Ahead and Prepare 2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces 3. Dispose of Waste Properly 4. Leave What You Find 5. Minimize Campfire Impacts 6. Respect Wildlife 7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org. OUTFITTER INFORMATION Angell Expeditions HC 63, Box 51, Marfa, TX 79843 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (432) 384-2307 or (305) 336-2787 Big Bend Boating & Hiking Company, LLC 53570 Fire Station Rd, Terlingua TX 79852 Email: email@example.com (469) 607-9869 Big Bend River Tours P.O. Box 317, Terlingua, TX 79852 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (800) 545-4240 or (432) 371-3033 (local) Fax: (432) 371-3034 Desert Sports P.O. Box 448, Terlingua, TX 79852 Email: email@example.com Phone: (432) 371-2727 Fax: (432) 371-2726 Ebikemarfa, LLC 114 W San Antonio Street, Marfa, TX 79843 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (432) 386-3086 Far Flung Outdoor Center Permits are required for use of park facilities, including use of hiking trails, park roads, picnic areas, camping areas, river access, or pull-offs along FM 170 (River Road). P.O. Box 377, 1 Adventure Lane, Farm Road 170, Terlingua, TX 79852 Email: email@example.com Phone: (800) 839-7238 Fax: (432) 371-2993 Special Use Permits are required for backcountry hiking, backpacking, or bikepacking. Lajitas Stables PERMIT REQUIREMENTS REGULATIONS • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. • Dogs are allowed on-leash on two trails in Big Bend Ranch State Park: Hoodoos and Closed Canyon. • UTVs and ATVs are not allowed within the State Park boundary. • Big Bend Ranch State Park is an International Dark Sky Park. Please do not use lighting at campsites that will “trespass” in to neighboring campsites or temporarily contribute to light pollution. P.O. Box 6, Terlingua, TX 79852 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (800) 887-4331 or (432) 371-3064 Fax: (432) 371-3066 Wild Art Mobile Outdoor Studio P.O. Box 148, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 Email: Annie@wildartstudio.org (415) 569-0651