Lens Travels - Living our Dreams! travel blog

On the way to Chisos Basin

On the way to Chisos Basin

Tree Information

On the way to Chisos Basin

Chisos Basin Campground

Chisos Mountain Lodge

Visitor Center

Interesting sculpture

 

Bear proof trash can

Chisos Basin Visitor Center Area

Heading west and south

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

Long deserted ranch

Long deserted ranch

Long deserted ranch

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

At Sotol Vista Overlook

Folks from Georgia and Texas at Sotol Vista Overlook

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

Santa Elena Canyon

 

Santa Elena Canyon River Access

Sleek looking kayak

Santa Elena Canyon River Access

 

Returning on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Returning on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Returning on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Goat Mountain along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive


Today ended up being a scouting day. I couldn't arrange to get the Ranger repaired until tomorrow, so I decided to check out the western and southern part of the park. Did I mention that this park is HUGE? I drove about 175 miles roundtrip and went to the far western edge of the park at Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, stopping at numerous viewpoints along the way. I also went to the Chisos Basin area high in the Chisos Mountains. 175 miles may seem like a long way to drive at 45 mph or less, but the scenery is so special all along the way, and there are so many interesting places to stop at, that I couldn't have cared less about the mileage. And there is so much more to explore.

So far I've stayed entirely on the paved roads, which by the way are in excellent condition, but there is another whole world out there off road that I haven't seen anything of yet. I'm a little uncomfortable going too far off road when there is no cell phone coverage but I'll probably do it anyway. More to come on that score.

When I drove down to the Santa Elena Canyon River Access area I ended up being very happy to have the 4 X 4. You can drive for quite a ways along the river on mostly river rock, but I eventually came to an area that was mostly sandy. It looked OK, but something told me to be careful. If I hadn't had the 4 X 4 I'd still be sitting there. It bogged down and I had to put the 4 X 4 in gear to be able to back out, and it struggled a bit at that. There were a group of guys packing up after having run the Canyon. I'm told that it's very serious water in there, not for the faint of heart or inexperienced paddler.

Of the campgrounds that I've seen so far the Cottonwood campground would definitely be my favorite. No facilities except pit toilets, but wide open grassy campsites with lots of beautiful cottonwood trees, and being at the lowest elevation in the park is the warmest as well. Probably about the same temperature as the Rio Grande Village campground, but much nicer and more wide open campsites. I may stay there for a couple of nights. It got down to about 17 degrees at the Chisos Basin campground last night which is a little strong for me. I could do it, but don't think that I will. Besides the campground wasn't as attractive to me as Cottonwood. The reason to camp at Chisos Basin would be a much better likelihood of encountering wildlife, which is no small deal.

The drive up into Chisos Basin is spectacular! Actually the entire drive from Panther Junction to Santa Elena Canyon Overlook is magnificent, almost other worldly. I'm told that NASA has used these areas to practice for the moon landing. There is something about desert environments like this that speak to me at a very deep level that I don't entirely understand, but that I don't need to understand to appreciate and enjoy. I'm afraid that I'm becoming more and more of a "desert rat".

All living things that survive over the long haul in these desert environments live much closer to the edge than those who live in more temperate climates, with very little room for error. Their survival skills have to be very adaptable and finely tuned, to include humans that brave these parts. The price that can be paid for lack of vigilance can be the ultimate one, especially in the hottest parts of the year.

I have a 9:00 appt tomorrow in Marathon to get the base plate on the Ranger fixed. Let's hope they can do a more permanent fix to this problem. The thought of losing the Ranger while driving down the road is not at all a pleasant one to contemplate.

Off road and tent camping are probably my next adventures. Stay tuned.



Advertisement
OperationEyesight.com
Entry Rating:     Why ratings?
Please Rate:  
Thank you for voting!
Share |