Big Bend Conservancy
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10/26/2006 Boquillas - main story Stewart Doreen<br>Managing EditorMidland Reporter-Telegram It is said that Big Bend National Park is like three parks in one. There is the desert, a carpet of lush nature laid from end to end in this amazing outdoor spectacle. There are the mountains, ranges as mysterious and distant as the Rosillos, and the Sierra del Carmens in Mexico and as near and friendly as the Chisos. And then there is the river. And with the mighty el rio bravo del norte, you have canyons. Clearly the media darling, Santa Elena gets all the ink. And for good reason: its majestic walls jut 1,500 feet skyward and when the sun catches it just so these beautiful rock walls carved by the Rio Grande look like they form a giant golden chest. The lower canyons, accessible only by the rugged, unpaved River Road, are largely unseen by the casual visitor but photographs tell a story of unbelievable vistas and views so far above the river bottom that the mesa tops seem to stretch all the way to heaven. And then, tucked away in the southeastern corner of the park, across 20 miles of unspectacular desert badland, is Boquillas Canyon, so well-hidden it remains unseen even from the trailhead of a short 3/4-mile walk. Walking into these massive walls -- precursors to the mighty Sierra del Carmens that loom behind Boquillas Canyon -- takes maybe 15 minutes. Once there, hikers are transported from the harshness of the outlying desert to a cool, breezy area with abundant vegetation. An interesting feature of the canyon is the small holes that appear in several locations on the canyon walls. Interestingly, Boquillas is Spanish for "little mouths." The walk into Boquillas Canyon is designated as an easy hike in Falcon's "Hiking Big Bend National Park," despite a brief 50-foot climb at the trailhead. Temperatures can still climb into the 90s during the afternoon even at this time of year, so check the forecast before your trip or before you plan to hike in the morning or evening. The trail follows the bank of the Rio Grande for several hundred feet after emerging from a stand of reeds and cane. Recent river flooding is apparent and staying on the trail is recommended. A small area of piled sand just before trail's end is a highlight for the kids, who will no doubt want to slide down before continuing. To reach the Boquillas Canyon trailhead, travel east from Panther Junction for approximately 20 miles. About 1 mile before Rio Grande Village, turn left at the Boquillas Canyon sign and continue 4 miles to the parking lot. (Because occasional thefts are a concern, valuables should not be left in your vehicle). ©MyWestTexas.com 2006
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