As nature photographers and hiking enthusiasts, we are often bemoaning the fact that we live in Chicago. Now, don’t get us wrong. Chicago is an amazing city with tons of fantastic cultural offerings at our fingertips. But as far as hiking and wildlife opportunities go, we’ve always found it to be lacking. With skyscrapers providing the only change of elevation and pigeons being the predominant fauna, this urban setting is a little less than ideal in the nature department.
Big Bend National Park in far west Texas is an amazing place. Snuggled into a big bend of the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, this park is known for striking sun-kissed scenery where its three distinct habitats of mountains, desert and river meet.
Even though this park is undeniably gorgeous, it seems to be a well-kept secret. At over 800,00 acres, like all things Texas, Big Bend is huge, yet it only sees an average of 300,000 visitors per year. Compare this to the 8-10 million people who visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you’ll feel like you have this desert paradise all to yourself.
Why such a difference, you ask? In a word: Isolation. (more…)