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OUTER TEXAS

Big Bend is one of the least-visited locations in the National Park system. One reason is its remoteness. It's hard to get to from anywhere, even Albuquerque. A second reason is the barren landscape that covers much of the park. A visitor entering from the north is greeted by an interminable basin uniformly covered with creosote bush.

But first impressions are deceptive. The park offers many rewards in its unique combination of mountain, river and desert environments. Few experiences compare to a hike high in the Chisos Mountains on a foggy morning. The Rio Grande is striking in its contrast with the stark surrounding land. Even the desert, on closer inspection, has a fascination. Mixed with the creosote bush is a magnificent collection of cacti and succulents, including the elusive Living Rock cactus.

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