Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday: Roundtrip To Saint Elena Canyon

Monday morning it was much cooler with a thick blanket of fog shrouding the mountains that surround the Basin. Our plan for the day was a circle route towards the Rio Grande River near the SW end of the park. We drove along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive stopping along the way at the various overlooks and historical points of interest. There were great views at the Sotol Vista Overlook. We hiked into a box canyon to see the Burro Mesa Pouroff (the location where water pours into the Burro Mesa to create the deep canyon). We hiked to see the north and south vistas of Tuff Canyon.

Our drive continued towards the Santa Elena Canyon of the Rio Grande. Near the river we say 3 road runners along our route as well as a coyote. Unlike the cartoon, the coyote was not chasing the road runners. We ate lunch next to the Rio Grande and then hiked along the river. Due to high water levels, the trail to the Santa Elena Canyon was impassible and closed. Our driving loop continued up Old Maverick Road (14 mile gravel road). We stopped along the way to see Luna’s Jacal (a hut structure that Mr. Luna lived in until he died in 1947 at age 108) and the Big Bend Badlands. Like other Badlands, the Badland hills are various clays that are striated in color. Towards the end of the day we watched the 38 minute Big Bend DVD at the Ranger Station, filled up the car with gas, and drove the 7 miles back up to the Basin lodge.