After spending a few days in Eagle Pass, TX resting up after our return journey through Mexico and getting things like laundry sorted and running errands along with planning our new route in the U.S., we were on our way toward Big Bend National Park.
We spent an evening camped out in Amistad National Recreation Area before heading to Big Bend, mainly just to get our tent set up and aired out for the first time in three months. Amistad is a large reservoir that straddles the border between Mexico and the U.S. The Amistad Dam, a port of entry that spans the Rio Grande, features a monument at its center commemorating the collaboration of Mexico and the U.S. in constructing the dam (in the late 1960s) for the benefit of both countries.
The next day we made our way into Big Bend National Park, where we planned on spending three days exploring the park and getting back into the tent life. Big Bend is a popular park to visit during the winter months (due to more agreeable daily temperatures and an influx of Winter Texans). It is unique in that most of the park’s southern border is the Rio Grande, separating Texas from Mexico. As a result, it administers nearly 120 miles of the international boundary.
The park is also unique in that it offers many different climates and environments due to elevation change (1800 ft. along the river to over 7800 ft. at its highest peak in the Chisos Mountains) and temperature variations. Evenings dip into freezing temperatures during the winter months while summer days can easily hit over 100 °F.
We spent our time in the park hiking and checking out most of the must-see destinations while also doing a little off-roading with the bikes to see some of the immense backcountry the park has to offer (and hone our skills for the Trans-America Trail).
One of the major draws at Big Bend is the Santa Elena Canyon at the southwest end of the park. The canyon itself is a large slot canyon that the river has cut through the beds of uplifted rock. It is around 1500 feet high, with some hiking trails on the U.S. side allowing you to enter the canyon and experience the massive and towering presence of its walls.
Big Bend’s recognition as an international dark-sky park means it is one of only ten places in the world where you can do some dark-sky gazing. Unfortunately for us, our time there happened to be during a full moon so we missed out on some truly awesome stargazing.
After Big Bend our goal was to head back east to San Antonio to see the Alamo. We overnighted at Amistad again on the way over, and upon arrival we made ourselves comfortable at a KOA in the eastern part of the city for a weekend of getting caught up with computer work and doing some sightseeing.
The Alamo itself is a bit anti-climactic as the only original building still standing is its iconic mission—which is not very large at all. The site is also completely surrounded and dwarfed by modern commercial buildings and skyscrapers, eliminating any atmosphere of reverence.
The history is the interesting part of the site, however, and details the Texan war of independence from Mexico in the 1830s and the conflicts that ensued. It was inspiring to learn more about the symbolic and bravely-fought defeat of the Alamo, which in turn created the perfect environment and drive for Texas’ hard-won victory.
After San Antonio, the plan was to head south to spend a week in Port Isabel before continuing north and east to Houston, visiting family and re-gearing once more for our upcoming off-road journey across the U.S.
‘Follow the Elefant’ catalogues the motorcycle travels of Brittany and Ehren Inkel. Originally from northern Minnesota, they lived in Winnemucca for a spell and credit the high desert community as the starting point for both the northern and southern legs of their journey from Alaska to Argentina. Read more at followtheelefant.com.