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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Big Bend National Park provides superior scenery

There they were, Rock, Liz and James -- you know, Hudson, Taylor and Dean -- bigger than life on the wide-open Texas plains.

What an incredible introduction to the Big Bend country of Texas -- an amazing art installation just outside of Marfa, Texas, commemorating  the filming location of the 1956 epic Western "Giant." The installation, complete with solar power and music, was just one of many intriguing surprises that the remote Big Bend area seems to have in abundance.

Besides Marfa, we explored the small towns of Alpine and Marathon. Even better than those arty enclaves is the sublime beauty of Big Bend National Park, stretching from the 8,000-foot Chisos Mountains into the canyons of the Rio Grande Valley.

It's the kind of exotic location that makes RV travel pure joy.

After stopping to marvel at the "Giant" art installation, we began our Big Bend journey in Alpine, a town at 4,600 feet on the high plains of West Texas. We hit it on Fat Tuesday, and spent a rockin' night partying to the band Dr. Zog for a Mardi Gras celebration in Alpine’s historic Holland Hotel.

The next day, we traveled south to Big Bend, one of the biggest and best national parks in America. After snagging a camping site along the Rio Grande, we immediately headed for Mexico.

From Big Bend National Park, it's possible to cross the Rio Grande  -- in a rowboat, of all things -- to visit the village Boquillas del Carmen.  It takes all of about 45 seconds to paddle across.

We spent the afternoon walking through the village, shopping for local crafts and having a meal at Jose Falcon’s, an excellent restaurant overlooking the scenic river valley.

If you're wondering, there were no hordes trying to get into America illegally. We did see four goats on the Mexico side who looked interested in coming to the United States, but they stayed put under our watchful eyes. All in all, people in the village were exceptionally friendly, and the margarita at Jose Falcon's was excellent.

After our Mexico sojourn, we hiked along the Rio Grande, then went high into Chisos Basin for two more days of exploring. We were lucky enough to hit the park just as spring blooms were peaking, so we saw flowering desert plants and fragrant Texas bluebonnets everywhere.

Like Washington’s Olympic and Rainier national parks, Big Bend is special. We loved the chance to see this dramatic part of Texas, a place that like the movie has giant views and beauty.

Our final night in Big Bend country was spent at a quirky artist enclave in Marathon. Eve's Garden Bed and Breakfast, a friendly spot filled with unusual rooms made from organic and recycled materials, was the perfect finish to our visit.


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Big Bend gets all the press, but its cousin 230 miles north is pretty spectacular too. We hit Guadalupe Mountains National Park for our introduction to Texas after visiting nearby Carlsbad Caverns just across the border in New Mexico.

If anything, Guadalupe Mountains National Park -- home to Texas' highest peak at 8,751 feet -- felt even more remote and wild.


This week's Going Mobile question

We thank our readers for their many suggestions about Texas. We're onto the Gulf Coast now and we'd love to hear more great ideas. What's your favorite beach stop along the Gulf of Mexico?

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.