The approach of a Texas winter brings with it mesquite smoke above Hill Country chimneys, migrating sandhill cranes over the Panhandle plains, and blue northers churning coastal bays. Our winter’s mild frost still reminds us that seasons do change in Texas; without an occasional freeze and its icicles, our memories of past summers might not seem so sweet. Fortunately, Texas also offers the ideal antidote for those prone to the winter blues—a vacation in the remote Big Bend Country, where warm afternoons and crisp nights are common from December to February.
Most of my day trips consist of a handful of museums, a bit of outdoors, and lots of great food. But then there are the trips that take me into the remote reaches of Texas; to places without restaurants and streetlights but riddled with adventure. My recent journey was of this kind, as I set out with friends to summit the highest point in Texas: Guadalupe Peak.
The Boquillas Hot Springs, a collection of 105-degree springs located along both sides of the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park and Boquillas, Mexico, was a popular bathing spot long before settler J. O. Langford arrived in the 1900s and turned the U.S. side into a health resort. Reports from the mid-1800s indicate that the hot springs served as a stopover on the historic Comanche Trail. Records also document Apaches growing crops and living in settlements around the springs as early as the 1700s. In fact, pictographs above the springs provide evidence that ancient peoples constructed bedrock mortars and bathing pools for capturing the warm water. Today, the foundation of the more recent Langford bathhouse still holds enough hot water to create a shallow pool for visitors to enjoy. Located along the Hot Springs Trail just a short hike from the Hot Springs Trailhead, the small pool offers a relaxing respite after a day of winter trekking across the national park.
My family has made a number of trips to Big Bend National Park over the past 30 years, driving the scenic routes, hiking its many trails, camping, and enjoying stargazing and hot springs. We love this 800,000-acre park for its incredible and diverse landscape: swaths of thorny Chihuahuan Desert, verdant springs, sand dunes, rocky ridges, and entire mountain ranges hiding waterfalls and spruce-filled canyons. Even more, we cherish its opportunities to get away from the madding crowds.