I made a final check of the weather data while staying in Alpine, Texas. There was no chance of severe storms for the next few days. Since it was too early to leave, I decided to explore the mostly uninhabited region of Texas along the Rio Grande Valley and Big Bend National Park. This was a good opportunity to expand my scenic landscape portfolio. There was even the chance of photographing some unusual butterflies and other wildlife. I headed south on 118 and drove for 80 miles without passing any towns, gas stations or restaurants. There were no radio stations within range and no cell phone service. I only passed a couple of cars. The road went through mountains and dry plains. For most of the route, there were no signs of habitation except for the powerlines by the road. I finally arrived in Study Butte, a small ramshackle town of manufactured housing, shacks and a motel that borders the national park. From the town, I had another 40 miles before I reached the lodge in the park.
I spent a couple of nights at the Chisos Mountains Lodge at Basin Rural Station in Big Bend National Park. This is the only lodge in the park and is located on a "basin" or a flat area about 5,400 feet elevation. Tall angular mountains surround the basin that slowly dips into a canyon on the western side. Big Bend is a beautiful park with jagged mountains, deserts, and canyons. Many of the hills and cliffs are banded from layers of volcanic ash. Scrubby trees cover the higher mountains while the lower elevations are barren except for a narrow zone along the Rio Grande. Mexico is visible on the other side of the river. The Mexican side is mainly a rock wall thousands of feet in elevation. The wildlife include coyotes and mountain lions. Along the mountain trails, mountain lion warning signs are posted. Unlike many national parks, Big Bend is not crowded. I encountered few people at the lodge and none along the trails and back roads. I spent time hiking, exploring and photographing the awesome scenary. On May 27, I made an extended hike out of the basin and encountered a sudden storm. My descripttion of the encounter is here . I have been to Yosemite and Yellowstone and the stark landscapes of Big Bend are as good if not better than those more popular parks.
All images are scanned photos, either Fuji Velvia 50 or Kodak 200 print film. I used a Nikon FG, Nikkor 28-105 lens. As with storm and butterfly photos, these images can be bought for use in books, magazines etc. Sorry, individual prints are not for sale.
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