This was the first long hike we took in the park. The trail goes up over some desert hills, and then along the Rio Grande to a hot spring next to the river.
The first part of the trail is a steep climb to the top of the hills – the view back toward the campground is spectacular.
Campground from the top of the trail
The plant with the long stems is Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) – endemic to the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. In the spring and summer, bright red flowers sprout from the ends of the stalks. Hummingbirds are one of the main pollinators.
A species of grass with curly leaves and awns
Checkered White – Pontia protodice
Looking back at our trail
A Bromeliad (related to Pineapples) called Texas False Agave – Hechtia texensis
View of the river from the top of the hill
Various species of cactus
Sometimes with no spines at all
We saw this flower growing in rock crevices – the only green leaves and flowers in the landscape. It looks like it might be able to capture moisture that runs down the rock – maybe from dew. It’s called Warnock’s Rock Nettle – Eucnide bartonioides
Rock colors down near the river
The Rio Grande
Near the river there must be more moisture – although the ground still looked very dry. But there were green plants, flowers blooming and bees and butterflies nectaring.
Bicolored Mustard – Nerisyrenia camporum
Dainty Sulphur – Nathalis iole
Gray Hairstreak on Nama – Nama sp.
Gray Hairstreak – Strymon melinus
Marine Blue – Leptotes marina
Queens – Danaus gilippus on Nama sp.
Red-lined Scrub-Hairstreak – Strymon bebrycia
Twinleaf – Senna bauhinioides
This is the hot spring.
In the early 1900s a homesteader built a bathhouse over it, and offered healing soaks in the spring – 10 cents a day or $2 for a 21 day course of treatment.
The bathhouse is gone, but the original foundation makes the spring into a hot pool – the water is 105 degrees.
There was a huge flock of White Throated Swifts catching insects above the river – at least several hundred birds. It was so quiet that we could hear their wings moving through the air, and the splashes when they scooped up water from the river to drink.