Texas Big Bend National Park map and highlights

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Texas Big Bend National Park map and highlights

Map of National Park Big Bend in Texas
Big Bend, Texas on the map. National Park Big Bend (state Texas) on the map of US.    
Big Bend, Texas    
Established: 1944   Acreage: 735,416    
The Indians said that after making the  Earth, the Great Spirit simply dumped all the remaining rocks on the Big  Bend. Spanish explorers called it 'the uninhabitable land.' To the  casual visitor this may seem true—Big Bend is a land of austere  panoramas and open expanses of cactus and scrub brush broken by rugged  mountains, towering pinnacles and deeply etched canyons.    
The name Big Bend refers to the big U-turn  the Rio Grande makes in southwest Texas. The Rio Grande borders the park  for 118 miles, in which distance it has carved three major canyons that  vary in depth from 1200 to 1500 feet. One of the most startling sights  in the park is the teethmarks of beaver on Cottonwood or willow trees  along the river. The desert heat forces the beavers to live in bank  burrows. An oasis for species not adapted to the desert, the river adds  to the park's rich biological complexity. The river flood plain is an  area of unparalleled birdwatching. Here brightly colored summer  tanagers, painted buntings, vermilion flycatchers and cardinals serve as  accent colors to the green foliage. Along the river's gravel and  sandbars, visitors can catch sight of birds typically not seen in the  desert, such as the sandpiper and killdeer bob.    
In 1975, Science Magazine reported the  discovery of bones in Big Bend National Park of the largest flying  creature ever known. According to Douglas Lawson, a doctoral candidate  at the University of California, and Dr Wan Langston, director of the  Paleontology Laboratory of Vertebrates at the University of Texas, the  bones were those of a pterosaur, sometimes called a pterodactyl, a  flying reptile with a wing span of 38 feet. This creature became extinct  about 60 million years ago.    
Big Bend National Park is 97 percent  Chihuahuan Desert, one of the four warm North American deserts. This  desert is young, about 8000 years old, and is fairly lush, receiving its  rainfall during the summer. The desert is commonly perceived as a  vast emptiness. On the contrary, the desert is a life zone full of  plants and creatures perfectly suited to conditions. The primary plant  is the lechuguilla, which appears as a clump of dagger blades protruding  from the desert floor. Creosote bushes, for example, produce toxins  that discourage other plants from intruding on their growing space, and  their leaves are coated with a resin so that they lose little moisture  to the air. The wildlife, too, has adapted to the climate. The kangaroo  rat never needs to drink because it can metabolize water from the  carbohydrates in the seeds it eats.    
The Chiso Mountains interrupt the Big Bend country as a green  island in a desert sea. During the Paleozoic Era, over 300 million years  ago, Big Bend was a sea. The water-covered area, known as the Quachita  Trough, extended into what is now Oklahoma and Arkansas. Toward the end  of this era, movements buckled the earth's crust to form the mountains.    
The mountains, like the river area, are home to animals and  plants not found in a desert region. As the Great Ice Age drew to a  close and the colder, moister climates retreated northward, many plants  and animals became stranded in the cooler Chiso Mountains by the  ever-increasing aridity of the surrounding lowlands.    
Although it is a wild and untamed land, the region has been  known for a long time. Spanish explores were surely among its early  white visitors. Old Spanish guns, a sword, some stirrups and other items  have been found in park areas.    
Hiking is the best way to explore the park, but a river trip  down the Rio Grande can be an unforgettable experience. It generally  takes six or seven days for a river trip through the park.    
Previous pages: The red, rocky cliffs of El Capitan in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.    
Above left: The mule deer, the most abundant deer in western North America.    
A drive along winding Highway 170 (above  right) is one way to experience the rolling, rugged terrain of Big Bend  National Park. The more adventurous can try a horseback ride along  Window Trail (right).    
Facing page: The still waters of Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande River.    
Far right and below: The rare beauty of the plants unique to the  desert contradicts the commonly held belief that the desert is a barren  wasteland.   
Big Bend, Texas on the map. National Park Big Bend (state Texas) on the map of US
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