So, a confession: although it seems redundant to visit Big Bend Ranch State Park, right next to Big Bend National Park, we wanted to see something extraordinary at the former that was unavailable at the latter: a 36-million-year-old caldera. Its 10-mile diameter was not even recognized until technology allowed it to be seen and photographed from 10,000 feet above.
To get to the rim, we braved the worst road we’ve ever traveled: 35 miles of grinding gravel, ruts, gouge-outs, rubbled washes and generally just abominable boulder-strewn dirt paths. Had hiker’s lunch at Fresno Canyon, just outside the crater itself.
The canyon was far, far more beautiful than the caldera, another 5-mile hike over basalt and rhyolite rocks. We then drove to within ½ mile of the crater rim. The road went no further.
As we’d already had our hike and the temps were 85+ degrees with NO shade, it was decided to look up the images inside the caldera on Google Images and let it go at that! As you can see, though, the raw power of nature is fully evident and awesome! Ten hours for the entire excursion, and we stumbled back into a darkened camp with huge thanks for no mechanical or human mishaps along the way.
What a treat to see four adult wild burros and a baby standing in the dusk-lit dirt path about halfway home. We also saw a magnificent fully antlered (12 points, at least) mule buck guarding his harem while the ladies grazed, two red-tailed hawks taking dinner back to their nest to share, a jack rabbit, a cottontail and 20 scaled quail on our drive/hike. We always see Roadrunners out here, so they are getting to be as ordinary as the doves in the skies. But always fun….they look like nature’s prankster.