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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Rodriguez

The Majestic “El Despoblado”

Nothing can compare to the beauty of West Texas, it is wide, vast, and majestic. When people think of West Texas their minds eye sees a long stretch of highway, desert, and a very hot sun. However, if you travel west for 602 miles you will reach the entrance of what we like to call Texas’s gift to the Nation, Big Bend National Park.

The park was founded in 1944 during World War II. In the mist of uncertainty and turmoil, President Franklin D Roosevelt proposed the noble idea to preserve a piece of our land for future generations. It was a sign of optimism, job growth, and conserving our states natural resources located in the Chisos Basin.

The Chisos Basin is the most sought out campground in Big Bend, so you have to book your campsite early. The Chisos mountains, the southernmost range of the United States, was formed by massive volcanic activity 32-38 million years ago. The basin shape we see today was molded from the erosion of water over millions of years. It is a beautiful reminder that a small trickle of water can create a magnitude of change.

When I get to Big Bend, I am cocooned in silence. No more cars honking, and the roar of my city life comes to a halt. I can actually hear myself think! People say that nature is like a religion, and it’s true. You come out to Big Bend to be one with nature and one with yourself. Weather you go out to glamp or your adventurous spirit drives you towards primitive camping you will get to experience the beauty of what the Spaniards called the El Despoblado, the uninhabitable land. What you get out here is much more than uninhabitable. You are surrounded by a variety of ecosystems, beautiful wildlife, and an opportunity to relax and recharge.

The 602-mile trip is worth your time. I’ve been all over the United States. I walked through the Arches, I hiked to Angels Landing in Zion, and I traversed a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington; each are beautiful in their own way. But Big Bend is special and unique to my home state. The wide-open road through west Texas is paved in tranquility, beauty, and majesty. A tribute to our land and country, founded and settled by brave men and women who saw the beauty in El Despoblado.


Reservations for campsites in Chisos Basin ( go fast! If you can’t find a campsite in the National Park you can head over the charming town of Marathon and stay in the historic Gage Hotel. If you are looking for a more resort style stay Lajitas has some beautiful accommodations. One of my favorite places to stay outside of the park is Terlingua Ghost town. It has very basic lodging but it’s open to the night sky, good food, and very friendly people.


Emory Peak is a must. It’s a difficult 1 mile hike with some rock hiking and scrambling but it’s worth the view. Reaching an elevation of 7,825ft, Emory Peak is the highest peak in Big Bend.

If you are looking for a challenge, hike the 12.6 mile loop of South Rim. It’s a strenuous hike but it’s the perfect place to spend a night under the stars and offers a unique backpackers experience.


My favorite place to eat in this region is at the 12 Gage Restaurant in Marathon at the Gage Hotel. The food is fabulous! The White Buffalo Burger is a must and for dessert the Mexican Chocolate Brownie will have you licking the plate…literally!

Coffee is a must on any vacation and my favorite is V6 Coffeehouse, also in Marathon.

The Starlight Theater Restaurant and Saloon in Terlingua is a must for a cup of their award-winning chili, their Diego Burger, and the Rancho Water drink! They have the best live entertainment out west!

The Bad Rabbit at Terlingua lodge is well known for their breakfast and classic American dishes. They have live music on the weekends, outdoor seating, and fun family friendly atmosphere.

Don’t Miss

One of the most spectacular views in Big Bend is the Santa Elena Canyon. It is a 1.7-mile round trip that follows the edge of the Rio Grande River into Santa Elena Canyon. On either side of you, 1,500 feet high walls tower above you.

The natural hot springs are a popular attraction in the Rio Grande, with temperatures sitting at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets too hot take a quick dip in the river!

Lastly, don’t forget your passport so you can take quick trip to Boquillas, Mexico. For $5.00 you can take a ferry upriver then hop a ride on a horse, donkey, or vehicle. Take your time, browse the local shops and to eat lunch at Jose Falcons!

Distance from Houston: 602 miles

Drive Time: 9 hr 23 min

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