Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Richard and his daughter Jennifer

In Memory of My Friend, Richard Merrill

by David Locke,

Richard Merrill, a devoted father, space systems software engineer, avid outdoorsman, friend to all and Big Bend Chat's beloved moderator for nearly 14 years, passed away on July 2, 2019 while hiking the Marufa Vega Trail in Big Bend National Park.


I met Richard about 15 years ago on old “bulletin board style” discussion group about, you guessed it, Big Bend. Like so many others, we shared a true love of the Big Bend Region. He would patiently and thoughtfully answer all the questions posted by others and if he didn't have the answer, he was humble enough to tell you he didn't, then turn around and hand all the research he found back to you. He very quickly became one of the most respected advisers on the bulletin board. At that time, that is all I knew of this faceless, friendly “RichardM.”


After I started Big Bend Chat, it didn't take long for me to find out I was in a little over my head. It became apparent, that I needed some good help. No one was more capable than Richard. He was smart, kind, thoughtful, even handed, trustworthy, friendly, generous, resourceful and very easy to talk to. He was the friendly advocate for all things relating to Big Bend and very generous with his extreme knowledge of this most magical place will all love. I never knew a man quite so willing to help as Richard. He graciously offered his time to moderate with massive effectiveness. It was nearly a year after asking him to be the moderator, that I finally met him in person! After meeting Richard face to face, you realize something extraordinary, he was the same guy in person as he was online. The consistent content of his character was what made him so great. Priceless, happy family memories were forged from his willingness to offer help, give warning and advice to so many people he didn't even know. On top of all that, he tirelessly kept the BBC page free of trolls and spam and did a lot of behind the scenes work debugging the site. He fielded questions for folks from all over the internet and across a variety of his personal interests. His easy-going, respectful tone was pleasant and friendly to all of those who communicated with him and he had an uncanny ability to find every bit of information he could find and just hand over to you.


Richard enjoyed his life and went to Big Bend every time he could get a chance. He promoted this passion with his daughter, Jennifer, whom he adored. He was truly a wonderful father, instilling the same values to her we all admired and appreciated about him. I and so many others who knew him will miss him terribly. He was my friend and fellow collaborator. The world has lost a good man. May he live on in the hearts and actions of all of us as a fine example of how to be to each other. Until we meet again on the trails of eternal happiness, adios amigo.


A GoFundMe page has been created to benefit his teenaged daughter's continuing education. To donate please go to


The Mighty Rio Grande Snakes through the Big Bend National Park under the watchful eye of the Chisos Mountains.


Welcome to the most complete online database of the entire Big Bend Region in Texas. Big Bend Chat offers the world all the insight to the Big Bend Region, including Big Bend National Park, by generous, friendly folks you expect from Texas.   To gain full access and get the most out of Big Bend Chat, we recommend you register today. Registration is free and you will gain access to other areas of the site that aren't accessible to the general public. You will also enjoy uploading your own Big Bend images into the Big Bend Gallery.


You may also be interested in our premium "Golden Eagle" membership (see the "Become a Golden Eagle Subscriber" box below). "Golden Eagles" enjoy the forum without the ads! You can enjoy membership for a fee of $10 per month or sign up for a year at $50 and save over 50%! is not affiliated with the National Park Service, the Big Bend Natural History Association, the Big Bend Conservatory, or any of the Big Bend Area Chambers of Commerce. We are an independently run website. My name is David and I am the site's founder and I also created Big Bend Chat's sister site, Virtual Big Bend. Please be cordial as I have no doubt everyone here will be cordial to you.


We are a fanatical bunch, but we welcome all current and future Benders. And like my Great Grandma Myrtle used to tell me, "David, there are three things you should never talk about with family: sex, religion and ESPECIALLY politics!"  So, let's be a family, stay as long as you like and be sure to tell your friends!




David Locke

aka "Casa Grande"

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