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The two RV Gypsies got a great view of the Rio Grande River at Big Bend National Park, plus the volcanic tuffs, mule ears, and the hot springs -- Page 2 of 3
October 10, 2012

The Rio Grande creates a distinct environment in Big Bend National Park. The two RV Gypsies watched people enjoying a swim in the river. Karen was wishing she had her bathing suit on so she could join them. Lee did not have any interest to go into the cold water.

people swimming in the Rio Grande River at Big Bend
the two RV Gypsies by the Rio Grande River in Big Bend

The two RV Gypsies got a look at the Rio Grande River as it seemed to disappear into the canyon.

the Rio Grande River
the Rio Grande River

The two RV Gypsies decided to go up the winding path to get a view of the Rio Grande River from above. The path was paved with a few stairs and at times it became narrow, but it was not very strenuous because the switchbacks provided easy walking.

Lee Duquette starts up the paved path
Karen Duquette on the paved path
a birds-eye view of people swimming in the Rio Grande
The Rio Grand River at Big Bend National Park

The Big Bend Country has not always been arid desert land. Marine fossil prove this region was once beneath the sea. These oyster-like animals lived during the Cretaceous Period, about 100 million years ago. All fossils and rock formations are preserved in National Parks.

marine fossiles in the wall

Hechita, a member of the pineapple family, grows ONLY in the Big Bend Country. Compare the leaves and flowering stalks with those of lechuguilla. Both have long, tough and rigid leaves with sharp hard points.

Hechita
a panorama of the view from the cliff
cactus and the Rio Grande
cactus and the Rio Grande

The two RV Gypsies always take a lot of breaks, even on easy paths, so they can take lots of photographs. That's the life-style of an RV Gypsy - slow and easy!

Karen Duquette and the Rio Grande River
Karen Duquette and the Rio Grande River

The river provides water for many desert animals; below, on the the Mexican shoreline are tracks from wildlife.

tracks from wildlife in Mexico
the Rio Grande River as it goes into the canyon

This part of the path was not paved, but it was smooth, easy walking, and the view was amazing.

Lee Duquette admires the Rio Grande River
Lee Duquette admires the Rio Grande River
the Rio Grande River
the Rio Grande River

The two RV Gypsies really enjoyed the amazing scenery at Big Bend National Park.

Karen Duquette really enjoys the amazing scenery
The two RV Gypsies really enjoy the amazing scenery at Big Bend National Park
Karen Duquette at Big Bend National Park
the Rio Grande River

Twenty minutes later, the two RV Gypsies were back at ground level and ready to drive on and see more of Big Bend National Park.

flowers

Cerro Castellan (Castolon Peak) - The layers visible in the photos below reveal millions of years of volcanic events. Stacked in this tower are several lava flows and volcanic tuffs (ash deposits) with layers of gravel and clay from periods of erosion between eruptions. Pale beds of volcanic ash and dark basaltic boulders are signs of volcanism.

lava flows and volcanic tuffs at Big Bend National Park

The two RV Gypsies found it interesting and amazing how each side of the street was totally different in color, design and texture. They have seen this difference many times in the west, even on regular roadways.

sign about lava flows and volcanic tuffs at Big Bend National Park
lava flows and volcanic tuffs at Big Bend National Park

Mule Ears- the amount of sunlight from different angles and heights gives the mule ears a totally different look.

Mule Ears
Mule Ears
Mule Ears
Mule Ears
sign about the Mule Ears peaks
sign about the Mule Ears peaks
panorama of sign about the Mule Ears peaks

Hot Springs Historic Trail - the hiking portion is an Easy Distance: 1/2 mile round trip.

This trail passed remains of a resort, pictographs, a homestead, and hot springs. A brochure at the trailhead offered more information, but the brochures were all gone. The 105°F springs are a popular destination, but one can continue to where the trail forks, (an additional 1/2 mile) leading to the top of the bluff and back to the parking lot. The two RV Gypsies were only interested in seeing the hot springs, so they did not continue past the hot springs itself.

 

The winding dirt road leading to the Hot Springs was one way during part of it because it was narrow, curvy, bumpy, and with a big drop-off.

narrow, curvy, bumpy dirt road
a sharp curve on a dirt road

Below: really big palm trees - see how small the person sitting below them appears.

really big palm trees
the path to the hot springs
the hot springs at Big Bend

This hot spring along a stretch of the Rio Grande River is believed to be related to normal faults. These faults formed between 18 and 23 million years ago. Today, groundwater circulating deep in the earth becomes heated before it returns to the surface as hot springs. The temperature of the spring water, which is heated geothermally, is 105°F year-round; the water contains calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, and lithium. The springs' flow rate in 1936 was 250,000 gallons a day, but more recent measurements show a decrease.

Karen Duquette at the hot springs at Big Bend
Karen Duquette at the hot springs at Big Bend

The hot springs was very shallow. Karen wanted to take off her shoes and soak her feet, but Lee got very agitated so Karen did not do it. Actually, it took all of Karen's self-control not to just sit in the hot springs.

Karen Duquette at the hot springs at Big Bend

Red pictographs (images painted onto rock) are seen high on the cliff face. Accurately interpreting designs such as these is impossible, but it is assumed that some figures had symbolic meaning, perhaps representing legends and stories concerning the origins of the people who made the images, or they could be related to their spiritual life. The red coloring is a pigment made from hematite, a mineral also called red ocher. Cinnabar, or mercury ore was also used in this area to produce a maroon pigment. Pigments were usually mixed with a binder of blood, egg or animal fat, which made the pigment adhere to the rock surface.

Red pictographs
Red pictographs
Red pictographs
Red pictographs
cliff
cliff
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go to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesPlease continue on to page 3 of 3 - because there is so much more beauty at Big Bend, including the Rio Grande River which divides the USA and Mexico, Mexican art, and a wild fire.