Tucked away in one of the most remote areas of the continental United States, Big Bend National Park is often called a place of “splendid isolation.” And perhaps nowhere else in the park is this isolation more evident than at the edge of the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains. From the rim’s steep cliffs the vast expanse of the rugged Chihuahuan Desert stretches into the endless distance, with the broad sweep of the Rio Grande often visible to the south. On a clear day it is possible to see the peaks of Mexico’s Sierra del Carmen almost 80 km (50 mi.) away.
In the late 1940s, local rancher and guide Bert Beckett presented the vista from the South Rim with the comment, “Folks, you can look in any direction and see the day after tomorrow!” Often described as the “classic hike of Texas” the South Rim loop hike captures the very essence of Big Bend country. Lon Garrison, second superintendent of the park in the 1950s, described the empty vastness as “often savage and always imposing. It is magnificent … The ‘Long Look’ never fades.” In the early 1500s the Spanish called it El Despoblado, the uninhabited land. Incredibly, the name still fits.
Photo of Boot Canyon by Megan Ballard
Photo from the South Rim ©Bernie McMahon