Zach’s dad came out for a visit last week to see Zach perform in several concerts. Lucky for me, his visit also prompted a grand tour of the Big Bend region which gave us one last hoorah on the River Road, the chance to hike a short trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park, and one final visit (for now) to Big Bend National Park. I’m breaking our Saturday jaunt into two posts and highlighting new experiences along with some old ones. In total, we drove roughly 415 miles, beginning in Marfa and making a gigantic loop through the Big Bend region to Marathon, and finally back to Marfa.
Back in October, when we first toured the River Road (FM170), the skies were gray and overcast. Thankfully, this time the skies were mostly clear with some clouds to the west. We started off toward Presidio and stopped just outside the city at Fort Leaton to get our pass for Big Bend Ranch State Park. Then we began our trek down the River Road.
When we visited Big Bend Ranch State Park in April we drove into the interior of the park, however, there are several trails located off FM 170 that lead down to the river or into canyons. We decided to do one of the most popular trails – Closed Canyon. The trail is located just off the road and is short – only 1.4 miles round trip. The trail leads to the mouth of a colossal canyon which separates the Rio Grande from the road. We entered the canyon where gravel and polished rock led us farther inside. We had to scamper down several pour-offs until we reached the point where the trail ended. I’ve read that it’s possible to use ropes to rappel down higher pour-offs in order to reach the Rio Grande, but most follow the trail 0.7 miles in and turn around. The canyon’s towering walls are gorgeous and glow in the sunlight, but they make it a terrible place to be if there’s a flash flood. Luckily, there was only a small chance of rain in the late afternoon.
We continued on our way down the remaining stretches of the River Road toward Lajitas, stopping at scenic viewpoints along the way.