Heart of Texas Magazine

What’s YOUR Big Bend Story? Explore Real Texas Beauty

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The Pilots

Bob and Nancy made their first trip to Big Bend last January. They retired a few years ago from farming in the Midwest; both are pilots, and they flew their Piper Dakota (PA-28-236) into the Lajitas International Airport in the Lajitas Golf Resort. There they rented a jeep and toured the National Park, finding that the low speed limit really enhanced their enjoyment of the drive. They stayed in the Lodge in the Chisos Mountains Lodge, where there is a restaurant and a small store, but no cell phone service. Bob stated, “The food was great, and the view of The Window was spectacular! Hiking was good at the Lodge trail-head and we only came across two other hikers on the 1.5-mile loop.” Knowing that Bob and Nancy are both pilots, it’s not surprising that they also took the Lajitas Zip Line tour in Quiet Canyon. They also stayed at the Lajitas Golf Resort, where they arranged for a guided horseback ride. Drinks at La Kiva and dinner at Starlight Theater rounded out their trip. “It was the perfect mid-winter getaway.”

What’s YOUR Big Bend Story? Explore Real Texas Beauty

The Canoers

“I’m lucky I’m still alive, frankly!” Bud, an attorney now retired in Fredericksburg, went on a river trip with his son David’s high school class many years ago. The park rangers warned the group about high water, but they continued. Where the Rio Grande enters the Santa Elena Canyon, there is a sharp right turn, and the turbulent water against the steep stone wall of the cliff tipped their canoe over. All were wearing life jackets, and they easily recovered the canoe. The water was fast at the Rockslide half-way through the trip. They scouted the rapid—the preferred route is “left-right-left” around large boulders in the river—and headed into the maelstrom. His canoe turned over at the first obstacle, and he floated down the river in his life jacket, feet-first, bouncing off the boulders in his way. He finally made it to an eddy on the Texas side, but the rest of the group was on the Mexican side. They threw a rope to him, but it was not long enough to reach. A larger raft came by and tried to reach him, but they couldn’t get to river left where he was. A second smaller raft managed to reach him, and after struggling to get the raft off a rock, they went over the next big drop successfully and rejoined his group at the sand bar river right. He will never forget his rescuer, Ron, a FedEx guy from San Antonio. The canoe and others were successfully recovered and the trip continued. “Those guys saved me. That was the last time I went canoeing,” Bud said. For information on floating the river see the Park’s website; there are several outfitters which will put you on the river in a canoe or raft.