Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

March 12, 2013. The Last of Four-Part Series.

Santa Elena Canyon. Jackrabbits. Javelinas. Crazy Deep-End Curves.

Now, I’m glad it’s the last part of the BIG Bend National Park that covers 801,163 acres that is what I was hurrying up to drive and shoot for a day before heading out to Enchanted Rock in the following day and camp there (I decided later that I had to cancel because of the flooding of people on the top hill, causing traffic when I got there…well this was during Spring Break. Duh me!).  I know next time I will be camping in Big Bend with the camper in a tow, staying there for a week if I could, taking beautiful pictures, sunrise and sunsets -of course, with the warmer weather and avoiding Spring Break!

Back to this point that I was heading to my final destination, Santa Elena Canyons that took my breath the last time I came here. It was the final week of December 2005.  I was anxious to get there before the sunset started.  I had some adrenaline rush to speed there, not realizing that there was some crazy road curves, many steep cliffs with some, no guardrails, protecting crazy drivers like me, to go over if one of us miss the turn.

I had to slow down, praying that I would make it before the sunset.  I kept forgetting that the daylights saving time just changed a day earlier.  Another blonde moment for me.  I wish I could have more time and capture more amazing shots on the way to Santa Elena.  Dang.  That took me 46 miles from Chisos Mountains Lodge to Santa Elena Canyon Overlook on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  I arrived to the destination pretty close at 6:30 pm.  It was pretty early for the sunset that would go down at 8:30 pm.  Oh well!

I thought I turned on my GoPro while driving through the road.  What a big disappointment!  I googled to see if there is one from the other visitors to film the crazy curves.  There it is!  Check it out!

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

Go to 7:13 and see how scary with driving the sharp curves with many cliffs down there.  I got more scared when I went back in the very pitch dark after a tour of Santa Elena.  (This disclaimer is not from my own.  I found this from YouTube and it belongs to takemytripdotcom.


The amazing view of the Canyon from the top of Santa Elena


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Santa Elena Canyon is at the end of the the most scenic road at Big Bend. The hike is fairly easy, but does have about 50 steps up at the beginning, but quickly flattens to leisurely stroll beside the river. The canyon is absolutely breath taking and the fact that you are strolling the Mexican border makes it all the more interesting. The high canyon walls and the Rio Grande river flowing through,  it is a must see.  When you descend down the other side back to the Rio Grande, there is a great view into the canyon what you see in my pictures above.

When the sun went sun, it was becoming cold.  I stayed a little longer, wanting to see the night looking like with stars floating in the sky but I saw something, maybe a boar or a dog roaming across the river.  I didn’t want to know but I ran out of this area.  I missed the opportunity. I was pretty sure it would be very, very extraordinary to see the stars at Santa Elena Canyon.

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When I was on the top of the crazy cliff curve, there was a lone big black-tailed Jackrabbit out of nowhere, in the pitch dark!  I couldn’t pass by this stupid creature. The deep-end cliff was right next to the road. It followed the front light beams where I drove slowly and carefully, not wanting to smash him into smithereens.   I halted a few times, trying to avoid this jackass.  It followed me left and right.  I was pissed off because there was no way out.  It took about 25 minutes – felt like forever– until I realized a deep end cliff was no longer there.  I got out and checked to make sure it was not there with head lights on, the jackass watched with a caution, maybe thinking I brought a rifle or something. I got in, smiled from ear to ear.  I tricked him by driving reverse a little bit, maybe a yard away from this shithead, it watched with a perplexing look, then I “roared” towards him.  The jackass finally jumped out of the way.  I barely missed him by a foot!  What a shithead.  Thank heavens the deep-end cliff was no longer there when I “almost rammed” into this crazy animal.

It was probably after 10 pm that night leaving from Santa Elena Canyon. I stopped for a few scenic lots on the road back to Panther Junction.  I was trying to captivate these stars and I didn’t realize that the sign was over there on the left side.  I didn’t want to take it off.  It adds a characteristic effect on this picture.

It was a 80-mile long, long drive to get out of Big Bend National Park, past Panther Junction.  I was close to getting out about 10 miles left to the end of the park.  I halted completely because I noticed a big dust “storm” on the right side.  I watched it unravel and to my utter shock, there were about 40 herds of boar!  I learned later that it is the group of javelinas, running across the route to the left side.  I saw some cute litter as well.  I found myself watching them with ” like-ping pong eye syndrome” with my jaw open, my hands and face resting on the steering wheel, with head lights on.  Wow, I thought!  Ah, now, I know back in Santa Elena Canyon, I thought it was a dog, coyote or a boar, it’s really a javelina, popular in Big Bend, to my relief.  It took a long while until they were out of my sight.  I loved it!!

10 miles later, I was finally out of the park, around midnight or so. I drove on US Route 385 about 100 miles to Fort Stockton, then 40 more miles, just past Bakersfield.  I was exhausted. I decided to stop by at the rest area.  I think it was about 1:30 am and I zonked out in the back of the car.

More to come for the next day’s road trip…..


About christy

I'm a freelance photographer. I love creating visual eye candy, be it my digital artwork or photography. More often than not, it turns out to be a combination of both. Whatever catches my eye, I shoot, specializing in landscapes, sports and portraits." Hailed from the Texas-born Baton Rouge, Louisiana residence, my photography was always my hobby, off and on, when time permitted. I had itched for a big change. I bought my first DSLR camera, I found myself falling back into photography again, and I've decided to pursue it full-time. I am specializing in landscapes however my interests are in the horizon into family portraits, senior portraits, sports, events and whatever catches my eye, I shoot.
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