Basin Drive Big Bend National Park

Marathon, Texas

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A 10-mile paved road that climbs from the high desert at Big Bend National Park headquarters into the cooler, wooded peaks of the Chisos Mountains. From a distance the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park seem to float like an island on a desert sea. The rugged mountains rise to 7,835 feet at Emory Peak, about 6,000 feet above the Rio Grande. As in other mountain ranges the increased elevation makes the high peaks considerably cooler than the surrounding lowlands. Mountains also attract more rainfall; air that flows over the mountains is forced to rise, which cools it, condensing out moisture and creating precipitation. The cooler climate and additional rainfall support a scrubby forest of pinyon pine, oak, and juniper in the Chisos Mountains. In sheltered canyons and on shady north-facing slopes, even a few ponderosa pines, Douglas-firs, and aspens survive. This is an excellent drive in summer when the Big Bend desert is baking in the sun. Special attractions: Big Bend National Park, Chisos Mountains, Lost Mine Trail, hiking, camping, scenic views. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.

Basin Drive: Big Bend National Park Professional Review and Guide

"A 10-mile paved road that climbs from the high desert at Big Bend National Park headquarters into the cooler, wooded peaks of the Chisos Mountains. From a distance the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park seem to float like an island on a desert sea. The rugged mountains rise to 7,835 feet at Emory Peak, about 6,000 feet above the Rio Grande. As in other mountain ranges the increased elevation makes the high peaks considerably cooler than the surrounding lowlands. Mountains also attract more rainfall; air that flows over the mountains is forced to rise, which cools it, condensing out moisture and creating precipitation. The cooler climate and additional rainfall support a scrubby forest of pinyon pine, oak, and juniper in the Chisos Mountains.

In sheltered canyons and on shady north-facing slopes, even a few ponderosa pines, Douglas-firs, and aspens survive. This is an excellent drive in summer when the Big Bend desert is baking in the sun. Special attractions: Big Bend National Park, Chisos Mountains, Lost Mine Trail, hiking, camping, scenic views. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more."

Activity Type: Scenic Drives
Nearby City: Marathon
Distance: 10
Season: Year-round
Local Contacts: Big Bend National Park
Driving Directions: Directions to Basin Drive: Big Bend National Park

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May 2018