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Down on the Rio Grande

Kurt & Teresa Pennington

This trip reminds me of an old song… Down on the Rio Grande.  On sort of a whim, we planned this trip near the border town of Terlinqua Texas right near Big Bend National Park.  At first, we didn’t know exactly what we were getting into, but we knew it was way down south right next to the Mexican border along the Rio Grande River.  Our goal was to visit Big Bend, do some mountain biking and enjoy Thanksgiving in the RV with a few of our RV friends.  The ‘trip’ decision was made right after the previous years Thanksgiving.  We thought.. “Okay, about a 9-hour drive from our hometown of Dallas”.  Well as fate would have it, a lot can happen in a year!  During that time, we made a life-changing move to Colorado!  Our friends were a little concerned “Are you still going to make it?”  The answer was “yes”, we wouldn’t miss it as long as the Colorado weather cooperated and allowed us to make the trip!  Sure, the 9-hour drive now increased to close to 15, but that just makes it more adventurous!  Of course, these driving times are all based on Google Map estimates, so driving an RV is always a longer driving experience for me.

View from my parent’s porch

As the tripped neared, we planned our route.  We knew this would involve more than one day of driving so we wanted to make the most of our excursion stops.  The first stop was in Edgewood New Mexico.  This stop actually had a two-fold purpose… it was a perfect location for a first-day rest stop and gave us a chance to spend a couple of days visiting mom and dad!  They live on the outskirts and their driveway provides the perfect spot to park the RV and still enjoy some scenic views.

After a couple of days there, we made a quick trip through my hometown of Roswell New Mexico as we headed to our next stop near Marfa Texas, which also served as a rendezvous point with some of our other RV friends travelling from the Dallas area.  This stop was somewhat unique in that it’s the Marfa Lights Viewing Area.  It is actually a roadside stop, which allows overnight RV parking for free right beside highway 67.  If you’ve never heard of the Marfa Lights, they have been described to be paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, or will-o’-the-wisp, etc.  We were able to see the lights that night… drifting way out in the distance… and constantly shifting positions from side to side and up and down… pretty cool.  If you make this one of your stops on future trips, I’d suggest some binoculars which we didn’t have.

Marfa Lights Observation Area

The next morning we made our final leg into the Big Bend Area.  It is quite impressive with the various geological features and very desolate.  We wondered what people do down here for a living because it doesn’t appear there is much to do… besides nothing.  Which…. nothing can be a good thing!  We stayed at the Maverick Ranch RV Park.  The park is nice and part of Lajitas Golf Resort which offers to golf of course, but also has some shops, restaurants and other activities associated with it.  They advertise zip-lining, but all the zip lines were closed while we were there.  They just didn’t have the necessary staff to operate them, but maybe in the summer, it’s a different story.  From what we gathered there is some history of what this place once was and what it is trying to become again… it’s gone through a few owner changes over several years.  The initial concept for the resort was to be the Palm Springs of the Southwest.

Our spot

The RV Park itself is nice, though it looks as though they are working on getting the grass going again.  I can imagine that’s a full-time job being that you’re located right in the middle of a desert.  Other than that… the park has nice bathrooms and showers.  Each is its own little private room.  We had full electric, water and sewer and some of the spots even offered cable TV.  All the spots are flat and offer either pull-in or pull-through.

Behind the National Park Ranger Station

Most of our time there was spent mountain biking and hiking.  We could mountain bike right from the RV Park to many different locations with a vast assortment of trails.  It was awesome!

Of course, if you make it down that far, you must go to Big Bend National Park.  The drive to the park entrance is approximately 30 minutes away from the RV Park.  We spent some time in the park hiking and exploring.  The park offers many various hiking and camping opportunities.  You could spend an entire week in the park alone and never see everything.  Even though you’re in the desert there is a lot of wildlife in the park.  Everything from deer, fox, coyotes, bears and mountain lions.  We did see some deer, fox and coyotes, and a few from our group even spotted a black bear.  If you’re more adventurous and looking for a great backpacking excursion and night out camping, you can hike the south rim and camp out up top.  People think Texas has no mountain, but in Big Bend, you can hike up to around 7,800ft.  We didn’t do that this trip, but when I was younger I did.  Make sure, regardless if you’re doing a day hike or extended one to take plenty of water!  It’s dry there and gets hot even in the later months of the year.

Trying out the horns in the Long Horn Museum

On a final note, I suggest you visit the Ghost Town of Terlingua!  It’s between the RV Park and Big Bend National Park.  It’s a cool little place with some interesting history… and if you go there you need to make sure you visit the store and Starlight Theatre. While we were there, the Starlight offered a Thanksgiving dinner that was delicious!  The food there was good, the beer was cold and they also have live music on some nights!

Kurt & Teresa Pennington

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