Big Bend and Beyond

In southwest Texas, where the Rio Grande cradles a region of mountains and desert, travelers will find a land as grand as a ten-gallon hat -- Big Bend Country.

  from The Most Scenic Drives in America

Length: About 450 miles.

When to go: Best from late February through May, October through December.

Nearby airports: Midland (225 miles); El Paso (325 miles); San Antonio (400 miles).

Lodging: Gage Hotel, Marathon; Chisos Mountains Lodge, Big Bend National Park (three-month advance reservations required).

Supplies: Available at Chisos Basin.

Words to the wise: When hiking, wear cool, rugged clothing for protection from prickly plants and take along at least one gallon of water per person per day.

Vehicles: On dirt roads, high-clearance vehicles are necessary to avoid large rocks.

Fuel: Panther Junction, Rio Grande Village.

Nearby attraction: Museum of the Big Bend, Sul Ross State University, Alpine.

Visitor centers: Persimmon Gap, Panther Junction, Rio Grande Village, Chisos Basin.

Further information: Big Bend National Park, P.O. Box 129, TX 79834; tel. 432-477-2251,

Brewster County Tourism Council, P.O. Box 335, Terlingua, TX 79852; tel. 877-244-2363,

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