Monday, May 29, 2017

Santa Elena Canyon

Slept good but awoke early...I had my coffee brewing before anyone pulled out this morning! An entire family of Javelina came through the campground...I love the piglets so cute.  Dang why didn't I video this?

hmmm look who is all puffed up this love these roadrunners they are quite amusing to watch..

After watching the wildlife in camp I made some breakfast, put everything in it's place and headed back to the Castolon/ Santa Elena Junction and to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  This area is very scenic. 

My plan was to bypass most stops go and get the Perfect Spot in Cottonwood campground as I saw the pattern that by 3 pm the sites start to fill up.  Cottonwood is smaller with 26 sites...and no flush toilets.  So that's what I did...there was no one there only one truck camper...many of the sites were surrounded by standing water...because they were pumping water from the river to Irrigate the campground.  It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me but anyways...who am I to say.  So I paid for and put my picnic table cover on site #2 then left to go to Santa Elena Canyon.   The scenic drive did not disappoint.

found this arch....

The Mules Ears 

to me its more like bats ears...

stopped to see these Sublett homestead ruins....Then onto Santa Elena Canyon. 

The Rio Grande goes right though the middle of this 11 mile canyon....Mexico on the left, USA on the right...
The hike is a little more 1.7 round trip since the River has moved a bit since it's last flood.  So the actual trail is about 3/4 mile farther now.  

The old trail used to start right there see the white sand path just over the bank in the greenery on the lower right?  Now the water has channeled itself here so you have to walk down the rocky beachy area about 1/4 mile to access the trail...Then you start climbing..and there's a series of switchbacks but that part is paved.  If you look closely you can see the switchbacks and there's guardrails along the edges of the paved sections..

It was getting hot early so any breeze was nice.  The trail follows the canyon edge...

A good view with lots of awesome plants...and animals..

checkered whiptail

And Bingo another new bird..the Canyon Wren...right here in a canyon! Amazing. 

then the trail levels off then you are meandering through  the canyon..

Then you are able to make your way down to the water, up stream the canyon narrows...the water is very warm and shallow...

There is a nice echoooooooo here tooooooooooo!

some modern petroglyphs

Some kind of water snake, 

Round pupil....But once he swam away I got down and waded in the water, the mud was hard to wash off! Very sticky.  The hike back was no fun because I didn't bring enough water!!

Zebra tailed lizard..

then I went back and had my siesta at the campground...but I moved to Site # 1 It was shadier...

...still only the truck camper you see on the far left is the only other camper..after my early siesta I drove back up the Scenic Drive to catch a few other spots I wanted to hit.  One was Homer Wilson's Ranch.  

That's it down in the valley...the trail is easy a bit rocky and some thorn scrub once you get down on the valley floor.  

Black throated sparrows kept me company...

Gorgeous!  And finally I make it over to the Ranch House it is located at the intersection of a few long distance hikes...

This ranch house was in use up until 1945...

There is a nest up in the rafters there...A Say's Phoebe?

The front of the house...

You know If I had my tools I think I could make this place livable again!! 

And a stop on the way back to camp for some late and lovely Texas Blue Bonnets. 

Tomorrow is going to be my last day in Big Bend...wish I had arrived earlier in the season, there is so much more to see and do here!!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.


  1. So much to see in that HUGE park -- I'm loving all the memories (and the birds you saw that we didn't... that was kind of before I did a lot of birding when we were there)..... those ranchers living out like that ...mind boggling to me then and now.

  2. It may have been cooler back then, but it was very far from civilization on the American side least ways. It was amazingly cool inside the old house!

  3. Very nice so much to see and enjoy. I bet you could make that ranch house livable doesn't look all that bad and the roof doesn't look very old. Some pretty thick walls to keep it nice a cool. But that is soooo far out there

    1. Yes, no road bed either...I imagine there once was a road, even if it was a wagon road...close to the house is what I call a "wash" it would be passable by 4 x 4 I guess.

  4. Yes I think you could repair that house too.....maybe a later project!!! Was that water snake a blotched Water snake, I Googled it. I'm always grateful that we only have 3 types of snakes and one of those is a legless lizard.

    1. I did a quick search and was not able to ID the snake...that could be what it is, it was a beautiful snake and quite large!! I'd say he was 3 ft long. OH there is SO many kinds of deadly critters in the US! Right here in my own backyard I have to be careful.

  5. The Sparrow has beautiful markings. You are visiting some stunning places!

    1. Thank you Pam, I was thrilled by the diversity of the areas I visited, and the birds were the frosting on the cake!


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