Sometimes people ask me, "Can you do a day trip to Big Bend from Van Horn?" Sure you can, and to prove it, here's the itinerary from yesterday.
7am leave Van Horn
Morning drive--sunrise, Prada Marfa art installation on the side of the road, coffee at Brown Recluse in Marfa, Alpine, spectacular ranchland views
Arrive in Big Bend--drive Old Maverick Road to Luna's Jacal, Terlingua Abaja, Santa Elena Canyon hike (first two photos; click on the photo to get a closer look--see how small the person is in the first photo?), the historic Castolon Visitor Center (last photo)
Lunch in Study Butte and drive back through Alpine, Marfa and Valentine, spectacular mountain sunset, arriving in Van Horn, 7 pm.
I'd seen the spectacular photographs of Santa Elena Canyon, of course, and was wowed by the majesty and the scale and by the fact that Mexico seemed just an arm's length away. But I was romanced by the soft fairyland atmosphere of the hike on the riverbank.
If you're the kind of traveler who enjoys the process of getting to your destination as much as being there, this is a wonderful way to spend the day. We packed in quite a bit--art, historic sites, natural wonders, and a great hike. What more could you ask for?