Big Bend National Park: Day 2, Part 3

DSCF0117

Looking out from the opening of Santa Elena Canyon. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

After completing the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and hiking Santa Elena Canyon, my wife and I had one more drive left on day two at Big Bend National Park. We headed up the primitive gravel Old Maverick Road along the western border of the park. This low, hot area is home to desert plants like yuccas as well as panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and badlands:

DSCF0125

Yuccas along Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

This end of the park also harbors some interesting cultural features. First we saw some of the ruins at Terlingua Abajo. In the early twentieth century this small farming village along Terlingua Creek provided food for area miners and ranchers. After the local economy weakened in the 1930s the town was abandoned. Today all that is left are adobe walls and a few artifacts.

DSCF0128

Terlingua Abajo ruins off of Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

The ruins of a car from the same time period provided further evidence of the people that once lived here:

DSCF0126

Car ruins near Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Near Alamo Creek we came acros Luna’s Jacal. This structure was home to Gilberto Luna, a resident who raised a family and farmed here until his death in 1947.

DSCF0138

Luna’s Jacal along Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Jacals are constructed of stone walls and a roof made from woven ocotillo and cane grass that is then plastered with mud. The cool shade this building offered was a nice escape from the sun.

DSCF0145

Luna’s Jacal with the author for scale. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Further up Old Maverick Road the dry Chihuahuan Desert floor harbored several species of cacti:

DSCF0133

Unknown cactus along Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

DSCF0135

Unknown cactus along Old Maverick Road. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Just west of Big Bend is the Terlingua Ghost Town.

DSCF0167

Ruins of the Terlingua Ghost Town. Photographed 02/10/2014 in Terlingua, Texas.

This settlement was established during a mining boom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Here the mineral cinnabar was excavated and refined for its mercury content.

DSCF0152

Ruins of the Terlingua Ghost Town. Photographed 02/10/2014 in Terlingua, Texas.

After the cinnabar boom ended, the town was mostly abandoned and fell into disrepair.

DSCF0150

Once-abandoned building now home to a local business. Photographed 02/10/2014 in Terlingua, Texas.

In recent decades some entrepreneurs have breathed new life into the town, turning it into an art community and tourist destination. It’s certainly an interesting location and worth the modest drive from the west end of Big Bend.

DSCF0168

Once-abandoned building now home to a local business. Photographed 02/10/2014 in Terlingua, Texas.

After re-entering Big Bend and heading back east toward the Chisos Mountains Lodge, we passed through some beautiful badlands.

DSCF0203

Badlands east of Maverick Junction. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

We covered a lot of ground on day two and saw a variety of interesting things. The abundant sunshine left us both a bit sunburned, and we sweat more than a little in the 86 degree F (30 C) heat. Day three, however, would find us waking up under very different conditions.

DSCF0206

Badlands east of Maverick Junction. Photographed 02/10/2014 at Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Culture, Ecology, Geology, National Parks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s