Big Bend National Park – Hot Springs Trail

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

Desert views

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

Yellow composite

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.