Big Bend National Park
Big Bend spans 1,252sq mi of spectacular canyons, lush bottomlands, sprawling desert and mountain woodlands on the north side of the Rio Grande. Ranging over 6,000ft of elevation changes, it boasts a wealth of animal and plant life, a remarkable geological history, and a long and fascinating chronology of human habitation.Marine fossils in Persimmon Gap predate dinosaurs, which wandered a swampy Cretaceous landscape 100 million to 65 million years ago. Among them was the largest flying creature ever known, a pterodactyl with a 51ft wingspread. The park's canyons were carved only over the past 3 million years during the ice ages.Artifacts found in caves and rock shelters indicate that these paleo-Indians had adopted a nomadic lifestyle by 6000 BC. Ruins of pueblo villages in the Rio Grande floodplain document a culture well established by AD 500. Later, Big Bend was a sanctuary for Apaches driven south by Comanches in the 17C.Big Bend has more species of migratory and resident birds-over 450-than any other national park. Temperatures approach 120ºF in summer but may drop below 10ºF in winter.Park headquarters and the main visitor center are at Panther Junction (US-385 & Rio Grande Village Rd.) in the heart of Big Bend. Other visitor centers-at Persimmon Gap (US-385 at north entrance), Chisos Basin (Basin Rd.) and Rio Grande Village (Rio Grande Village Rd.)-also provide information on archaeology and ecotourism activities.