My name is Ruslan Verin. Welcome to my blog on Big Bend National Park. I was born and raised on the coast of the Black Sea in Odessa, Ukraine. Ever since childhood, I have dreamed of seeing the world. I wanted to travel not just by plane but in some other ways to physically feel every kilometer.
Once I tried to cycle over 1,000 km! Today my goal is to cross all seven continents on earth by bike. I have already traveled through Africa, Asia, North America and almost all of South America. I love seeing the beauty of our world and I happily capture these amazing moments on my camera. I share stories of my journeys on my personal website: ruslanverin.com.
My Great American Motorcycle Trip
At the end of 2020, I started a US motorcycle trip from North Carolina. I reached the southernmost point of the continental US – Key West Island – and from there continued my journey west. My aim was to visit as many national parks as possible. I found out about Big Bend National Park in Texas and didn’t realize how amazing this place would be.
On the 16th of January, 2021 I drove into the park and visited the first spot on the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. Here I saw a fantastic combination of desert, river and canyon all tinged in a golden color from the sunset.
After exploring the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, I headed to the eastern part of the park and on my way I discovered a fiery sunset. This sunset, in unison with the surrounding landscape, felt like I was transported into prehistoric times. It was incredible and the park really exceeded my expectations.
Favorite Places in Big Bend: The Window & Casa Grande Peak
It’s quite difficult for me to choose a favorite place in Big Bend National Park because the whole park was amazing. But perhaps the Window and Casa Grande Peak were the two most impressive spots for me.
A beautiful trail leads to the Window. Along the way, I found myself at the top of a glorious waterfall! The stones were shining from the polish given off by the river and in front of me was a view of the valley through several rock formations. The height of the cliff in the distance was incredible.
As the sun started to set, it changed temperature and got colder. I made my way back to the Chisos Basin Visitor Center and witnessed the Casa Grande Peak covered in a golden light with a bit of warmth remaining in the day. What a sight and what a way to cap off a phenomenal day!
5 Best Things To Do at Big Bend National Park
- The Window Trail: As mentioned above, this trail is one of the highlights of the Chisos Mountains and Big Bend National Park in general. A fantastic trail to hike in summer when the sun is shining and the desert lands are dry. The walk follows the upper portion of Oak Creek Canyon to the famous Window with its unique vantage point.
- Casa Grande Peak: Another place mentioned before, Casa Grande Peak is situated in the heart of Big Bend and is one of the most iconic peaks of the park (although not the biggest). Many hiking trails offer fantastic views of the peak as you walk alongside Casa Grande and marvel at its geography. You can climb to the summit but it requires traversing your way through scrambling rocks or rock climbing.
- Emory Peak Trail: This is a must-do as the peak is the highest point in the park standing at 7,825 ft or 2,385 m. From the top you can see the entire park plus destinations far into the distance. But the hike is not for the faint of heart. It’s quite a difficult climb. You can take one of two options to the top: firstly, hike from Chisos Basin Visitor Center or venture on the full-day South Rim Trail with Emory Peak as a detour.
- Boquillas Canyon Trail: A much easier hike compared to Emory Peak Trail, Boquillas Canyon Trail offers spectacular views of cliffs, riverfront beaches and meandering waters along the way. I recommend this trail for those looking for a leisurely walk within Big Bend National Park.
- The Rio Grande: The lifeblood of the desert, Rio Grande provides the national park with its most prominent source of water. Starting from the heights of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the river makes its way almost 2,000 miles as it flows southward. By the time it gets to Big Bend there is not much water left. But it still provides the park with a bit of drought alleviation when the rain falls and the river rises.
Wild Animal Encounters in Big Bend National Park
As well as being home to some epic landscapes, Big Bend also has its fair share of wildlife. One of my best experiences was when I was walking along the trails and didn’t see anyone or anything for a long time. Then all of a sudden, while I was recording a video, I met a wild cougar!
This beautiful animal is an extraordinary hunter so I was fortunate that the cougar noticed me and ran away. But who knows, she could have attacked me! I got an adrenaline rush in that moment and it serves as one of my most cherished memories. It was hard to wipe the smile from my face after that encounter. The joy of meeting and fearing a wild animal was immense.
Need to Know Before you Go
Big Bend National Park is a special part of Texas! It gets warm here during the day (especially in summer) and very cold at night. No matter where you stop in the park, make sure you experience the nighttime as the stars are incredible! I have never seen such an astonishing sky like that before.
This area is the natural territory of animals and they can be found everywhere, like my encounter with a cougar. Make sure you bring your camera with you to capture these majestic creatures. Above all, come here with adventure in your heart. The atmosphere of the whole park makes you want to stay longer. You can safely set aside a couple of days for Big Bend.
Lastly, on your travels through Texas, make sure you also visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy Big Bend!