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Due to its isolation, Big Bend is one of the USA's least visited national parks. The Rio Grande flows through 1,500-foot-high gorges and takes a 90-degree turn south of Marathon to form the southern border of the park, and the border with Mexico.

This hauntingly beautiful wilderness has been home to the Chisos and Apache Native Americans, as well as prospectors, smugglers and, latterly, pioneers who mined for mercury in the park.

Grapevine Hills, Big Bend National Park, TexasMuch of the park remains uncharted territory, where violent contrasts in topography and temperature result in dramatic juxtapositions of desert and mountain plant and animal life. Tangles of pretty wild flowers mix with cacti, wild mesquite and creosote bushes. Wild animals thrive here, including coyotes, road-runners and javelinas (a bristly pig-like creature). Even black bears have naturally returned, after having been hunted out of the park in the 1930s.

Beyond Rio Grande village a detour takes you to natural hot springs and the Mexican village of Boquillas. From here towering cliffs and gigantic canyons make a wonderful setting for walking and white-water rafting trips.

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Map of Big Bend National Park

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