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Big Bend is all about variety, from the low-elevation Chihuahuan desert landscapes to the high Chisos Mountains—and this strenuous 11-mile out-and-back hike through Blue Creek Canyon delivers an impressive cross-section of the park’s different types of terrain. Beginning in the grasslands, hike 0.5 mile on the Homer Wilson Trail to an historic ranch built from native stone, then head north into an arroyo on the Blue Creek Trail. The cairn-marked path cruises past “Red Rocks,” a series of orange-red igneous formations rising three stories overhead, before passing an underground spring and an oak thicket. Continue climbing into the juniper-pinyon pine woodlands of the high Chisos, topping out at about 6,700 feet at the junction with the Laguna Meadows Trail. Camp at one of the high-elevation designated backcountry sites, or backtrack down the trail for open zone camping.
Info: Backcountry permit required. Map: Trails Illustrated Big Bend National Park #225. (432) 477-2251; nps.gov./bibe
Hike provided by David Elkowitz, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services at Big Bend National Park.
Location: 29.2180595397949, -103.36824798584