Friends that had visited Big Bend National Park before us gave us advice on what to see, the "really gotta see this stuff" list. One stop we were informed was a MUST was to visit and preferably hike Santa Elena Canyon. J, D, Man and I looked over the maps and decided that since the roads were dry we would tackle a unpaved road called the Old Maverick Road and drive it from the west Entrance at Maverick Junction, south to the canyon, about 13 miles of gravel roads. The tour would continue in a counter-clock wise fashion through Castolon, and north along the Ross Maxell Scenic Drive to the Castolon/Santa Elena Junction and then west once more back to Study Butte. (You can find the map at the National Park Service web site, down the left side, look for View Park Map.) This was going to be a long day, so we packed our lunches, bottled water, hats, cameras, extra batteries for the cameras, hiking shoes/boots, hiking sticks, maps, and we were off:
I did mention, didn't I, how vast and barren and harsh this park is, right??
And, I did mention, didn't I, that there has been four years of drought? The ocotillo in much of the park were leafless, just dull brown sticks reaching to the sky. Interestingly, along the Old Maverick Road the ocotillo were green and even blooming! We were delighted and jumped out of Jolly to take many photos, 3 cameras going full tilt!
Lucky enough to find one plant that was rather short, I was able to get some really great close up shots of those beautiful RED RED RED flowers:
The road was graded, dug out in fact, you can see it is fairly large loose gravel. Jolly got rather dusty!
Another vista view and the geology, ravines, hills, different sizes and colors of stones/gravel/sand, or what looks like sand. Not a lot of fauna here though.
A bit more fauna here, ever changing desert life.
Our first goal for the day, Santa Elena Canyon, yes, we will hike it, yes, you know who took a bunch of photos, coming soon to Reflections.