Boquillas del Carmen

Boquillas is a small town on the banks of the Río Grande River. This town is one of the many reasons why Big Bend National Park is so unique because there is an official port of entry to Mexico in the park. Just down the road from the Rio Grande Village you can park your car and walk into the small U.S. Customs building and the customs officer will make sure you passports are up to date and tell you what you can and cannot bring back from Mexico. After this you will walk down a path until coming to a man with a small and leaky rowboat. This is the official ferry between the US and Mexico. The ferry is five dollars for the ride across and back. After this you can pay another five dollars for a mule ride up to the village but it’s only a .25 mile walk so I passed on that option when I went. Once you arrive in the town you will see a large sign saying “Bienvenidos a Boquillas Del Carmen”. The town is small with two restaurants, a small hospital, and a store or two. We ate at Jose Falcon’s Restaurant and enjoyed some of the best corn tortilla tacos we had eaten for lunch. Their are multiple stores where you can purchase handmade souvenirs as well as loads of kids that will run up to you with a small wire and bead animal. I purchased this roadrunner for five dollars

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(I know kinda steep but that was a cute kid) and then had to tell the next kid I had no money left for the scorpion he was offering me. We didn’t have time to visit the Mexican National Park but it’s a five dollar fee to enter the park  and explore Big Bend’s sister park. We returned back across our ferry and went into the small building where we waited to go to a kiosk (like the ones at the airport) but someone called on the phone connected to the kiosk, asked us some questions and told us to have a great day. The customs experience was much more relaxed than I had ever experienced before. If you are ever in Big Bend you should definitely dedicate a couple hours or even a whole day to Boquillas. Just make sure you are back on the boat before the crossing closes at 5pm or you will be spending the night in Mexico.

Thanks for reading – Josh

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Picture of the Day – Tyrannosaurus Rex Skull

 

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Big Bend National Park just opened it’s newest attraction, the “Fossil Discovery Exhibit”! I was lucky enough to check out the new exhibit even though it didn’t officially open until a week after I left the park. This picture is of my sister and I with a giant T-Rex skull in the exhibit.

Thanks – Josh

Sunday Hikes – Dog Canyon Trail

If you travel into Big Bend National Park from the northern entrance one of the first things you will pass is the Dog Canyon Trail. A 1.9 mile trail (3.8 round trip) out into the desert to an impressive Canyon cut through the large rock hills was one of the last things I did in Big Bend and after spending the past couple days in the rainy Chisos Mountains it was nice to get out in the hot and blazing desert sun.

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The trail begins on the left side of the road (if you’re heading towards Panther Junction) and for 1.5 miles goes through the flat and dry desert. Being from the southeast United States I am quite used to trees and hills so naturally I am fascinated by the stark difference of flat desert with only small bushes and cacti. Every time I drive out west watching the tall trees shrink over time before disappearing soon after crossing into Texas is something I love to watch unfold.

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Anyways after the 1.5 miles you hop down into a dried up arroyo and head left towards Dog Canyon. If you go right here it will take you to Devils Den, a limestone slot Canyon in the parks backcountry to explore. After another .4 miles you have arrived at Dog Canyon and you are walking in the shade of the Canyon walls.  After walking around the Canyon and checking out what was beyond it me and my friends headed back towards the trailhead. This hike is a great one to do with kids because of its flatness and short length just make sure you drink plenty of water because the sun is hot and ablaze in this part of the park. If you’re lucky enough to go to Big Bend be sure to include this trail in your agenda. Thanks for reading – Josh

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Picture of the Day – Purple Prickly Pear Cactus

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This is a Purple Prickly Pear Cactus. One of about 60 cactus species contained in Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. I just spent two weeks in Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains, and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks so this will be the first of many blogs containing those three parks from me. – Josh

The Best Bargain in Travel

The best bargain in travel is the United States National Park Pass.   The cost is negligible really.   We purchased an annual family Interagency National Park Pass last June for $80.   If you are a senior, it is only $10 for a lifetime pass and the US Military get in free always.

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Having the National Park Pass gets you into all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Recreation sites at no additional cost with no limitations on visits.   Before I had the National Park Pass I had been to 6 National Parks in 43 years.   Since June, I have been to 9 National Parks with 7 of them new.   In addition, my adult children have used the pass to visit 3 other National Parks and between all of us have scheduled trips this winter and spring to at least 7 more.   The National Parks are spread all over the country so while some of our trips have been based around the Parks, others have been because we have been in the area.   Work trip to New Hampshire, then drive up to Acadia in Maine.   Weekend getaway to Seattle, lets squeeze in Mt Ranier etc.

The United States National Park system represents all that is great about America.   To quote writer and historian, Wallace Stegner, national parks are “the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”   The National Park system preserves the most beautiful, special, and culturally important places in our country.   To visit them widens your view of the world and fills you with awe to the beauty created by God.

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Parks visited so far this year by our family include Acadia NP, Congaree NP, Cuyahoga NP, Zion NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Grand Canyon NP, Saguaro NP, Mt Ranier NP, Olympic NP, Shenandoah NP, and the Great Smoky Mountains NP.    Scheduled trips over the next six months include Joshua Tree NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Tetons NP, Badlands NP, Big Bend NP, Guadalupe NP, and Carlsbad Caverns NP.   I’m sure we will sneak in a few more as well!

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