Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Bend: Balanced Rock and Chisos Basin

We were up so early this morning we saw the "Supermoon" again. The things we will do to beat the heat! This is actually a picture we snapped last night just after the full moon rose. As we were leaving the campground this morning we saw it again just before it set. That was early!

We were well into Big Bend National Park before the sun rose over the Chisos Mountains. We traveled along the smooth and familiar road until it was time to make our turn.

About eight miles into the park, we turned left on Grapevine Hills Road. According to the park map, this is an "improved dirt road". Where we come from, this was one rough washboard. We were on this bumpy track for about seven miles. Rocky was having a great time! We just hung on and enjoyed the view.

When we arrived at the Grapevine Hills trailhead, the early morning sun was casting long shadows on the trail. Though this easy trail is less than two miles, we were happy to be here long before the heat of the day.

We spent much of the time walking in a sandy river bed on this flat trail flanked by gorgeous red rock mountains. We were so close to them it was tough to get a decent photo. As we approached the end of the trail, we looked back and were treated to this view.

Though we had reached the end of the "easy" trail, our destination was still a quarter mile away. Here is a marker for the rest of the trail, if you can call it that, to Balanced Rock. Although the remaining distance wasn't far, it was definitely a climb.

The climb was well worth the effort. With help from a friendly trio of hikers, we captured our moment at Balanced Rock. This giant "window" of boulders is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Big Bend National Park.

We managed to climb down safely and made our way back to the trailhead and back to the main road by late morning. Temperatures were still reasonable, so we decided to make the drive to nearby Chisos Basin. Thankfully, this road was paved. The views along the way were magnificent!

As we approached Chisos Basin, we spotted the Chisos Basin Campground (lower right). There are no hookups in this park, and Bullwinkle is way too big to take the road to get here, but it would be great spot for small trailer or tent camping. We took a quick tour of the campground to locate the Window trailhead, which we might hike on our next early morning visit.

The Chisos Basin Visitor's Center offers stunning views of the Chisos Mountains and another trademark Big Bend spot: The Window. This picture doesn't do it justice, but it's the "V" in the center of the mountain range. On a clear day you can see forever through the window. Today, unfortunately, it was pretty darn hazy. We took advantage of the view and enjoyed a picnic lunch at this lovely overlook.

It was starting to get warm at Chisos Basin, but by the time we were back at Maverick Ranch in Lajitas it was hot. The hazy sky kept the temperature in the low 90s, and Bullwinkle's trusty air conditioner kept us cool as we enjoyed a well-deserved afternoon nap and more NCAA tournament basketball. Rock chalk!


Sue and Doug said...

what a great tour and so worth getting up early for!!!.love the shot of you both under the boulder!!

Jim and Sandie said...

That pic of you guys at the rock is really neat. Thanks for getting up early for us.

E Squared and Mui said...

There is a reason why the early bird gets the worm :-)