Big Bend National Park
by Martha Rogers
As a native Texan, I am always fascinated by the contrasts of climate, vegetation, and land formations that exist in Texas. From the Guadalupe Mountains and Palo Dura Canyon in the west to the pine forests and lakes in the east and from the Red River in the north to the beaches along the coast, visitors to Texas can find great places to visit.
I have traveled all over Texas during my lifetime, but the one place I've missed is Big Bend National Park. It's one of those rare places that attracts campers and hikers of all ages.
Indians occupied the territory and date back to the 1500s. The Chisos Indians were primarily a tribe of hunters and gatherers although they may have practiced limited agriculture on a seasonal basis. Not much is know about their origin, but their language closely resembled that of the Conchos Indians of northern Chihuahua in Mexico called Uto-Aztecan. The mountains are named for them.
At the beginning of the 18th century, historic records indicate that the Mescalero Apaches invaded the Big Bend region and displaced the Chisos Indians. Then the Comanches passed through along the Comanche Trail as they traveled to and from raids into the Mexican interior. These raids continued until the middle of the century. The last of those Native American military leaders remained active until the late 1860's. The land was so barren that there was little if any interest in establishing towns and settlements. Only the Indians had a few places where they lived.
Spanish explorations began as early as 1535 with the first Spanish explorers headed by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. Others followed his expeditions with explorers seeking gold and silver or farm and ranch land. Franciscan missionaries hoped to establish centers where they cold evangelize the natives. In order to protect the frontier of New Spain, they established presidios or forts along the Rio Grande. Some of these were soon abandoned because of finances and even the forts couldn't actually stop all the invasions into Mexico. Some partial structures still stand and can be seen in various sections of the area.
In 1916, a raid on Glenn Springs motivated President Wilson to order mobilization of the Texas National Guard to aid the federal forces. They established a cavalry camp at Glenn Springs where it remained until border situation improved in 1920.
Two beautiful canyons, Canon de Santa Elena and Maderas del Carmen border the park in a protected area. Below is Santa Elena Canyon
Sign for the entrance to the National Park as it is today. Thousands of visitors come to the park to hike, camp, and explore. Modern lodgings are available as well.
So many unusual rock formations and cliffs and plants abound that it's hard to include them all, but here are a few of them.
Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to six. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years teaching Freshman English at the college level. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and serves as President of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.