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Big Bend National Park

Nikki Kaplowitz

Big Bend

Directions (By Car)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. Take TX-1 Loop S Take the exit onto TX-71 W/US-290 W Continue to follow US-290 W Turn right onto Fitzhugh Rd Continue onto Co Rd 201 Continue onto Robinson Rd Turn right onto US-281 N/US-290 W Turn left onto US-290 W/E Main St Continue to follow US-290 W Slight left to stay on US-290 W Take the ramp onto I-10 W Take exit 261 to merge onto US-385 S Turn left onto I-10 BUS W/US-385 S Turn left onto N Jackson St Continue onto W Railroad Ave Turn left onto US-385 S/S Missouri St Continue to follow US-385 S Arrive at Big Bend National Park

There are three major ecosystems in Big Bend Including: Three Ecosystems in a relatively small area allows for biodiversity but is also a limiting factor because it creates competition for resources and limited space in which particular species can survive.

The Chisos Mountains

The Rio Grande River

The Chihuahuan Desert

The Chisos Mountains

The Southern most mountain range in the U.S. The entire range is inside Big Bend Recovering from deforestation

Mountain Food Chain

Mountain Lion

Black Bear

Whitetail Deer


Frankia Bacteria

Juniper tree

Madrone tree

Persimmon Tree

Blooming Century Plant

Agarita Bush

The Chihuahuan Desert

It is the easternmost, southernmost, and largest North American desert It exists because of the mountain ranges that surround it which makes it a rain shadow desert. Because of the Rio Grande and the amount of rainfall it receives there are many types of vegetation that thrive in this desert that may not normally be found in a desert such as a plethora of shrubs and succulents.

Chihuahuan Desert

Desert Food Chain

Road runner


Western Whiptail

Coachwhip Snake

Kangaroo Rat

Frankia Bacteria

Desert Big Horn Sheep


Pronghorn Antelope




The Rio Grande River

The fifth longest river of North America and the 20th longest in the world Flows for 3,000 km south from Colorado to The Gulf of Mexico A very important fresh water source for the surrounding towns and ecosystems. Contributes to a series of hot springs. As a river in the middle of a desert the Rio Grande is where multiple ecosystems meet and therefor is one of the main attractions of the park

River Food Chain

Catfish Garfish Turtle

Couchs Spadefoot

Mosquito Fish

E Coli Bacteria



Willow Tree

Cottonwood Tree

Big Bend is covered in exposed rock because of the sparse vegetation and rich geologic history The most abundant types of rock are sedimentary and include: limestone, shale and sandstone deposited when the area was covered in ocean during the Cretaceous period as sediment about 145 million years ago. With formations like this it is not difficult to Many ancient fossils can imagine this area being covered in water. be found in the limestone that was once ocean sediment

Geology Continued
The Rio Grande is the youngest river system in the U.S. Big Bend got its name from a spectacular formation of rock surrounded by the Rio Grande The Rio Grande helps remove matter deposited by erosion

3,600 Species and counting Many are decomposers, pollinators, and prey Velvet Mite Tarantulas Millipedes Butterflies Dragonflies Grasshoppers Moths Bees Lady bugs Wasps Scorpions

The Rio Grande, and its two tributaries Tornillo and Terlingua Creeks are the only places fish can be found Blue channel and flathead catfish Over 40 species of minnow sized fish including the Big Bend Gambusia which is only found in one small spring fed pond near Rio Grande Village The last American Eel and later the last Atlantic sturgeon in the Rio Grande died when dams were built in 1954 Prey on insects, other fish, young amphibians, plants

Blue Channel Catfish

The Atlantic Sturgeon

31 Species of snakes -feed on rodents, bats, birds, Yellow mud turtle snakes, turtles, lizards, large insects 5-6 species of turtles -Primarily found in wet places close to The river -The Big Bend slider, spiny soft-shell turtle, yellow mud turtle, and (a new species found in 2005) the Rio Grande river cooter. Western Coach Whip 22 species of lizards -Active year round -prey of many species particularly roadrunners -Feed on insects, spiders, lizards, Collared and small snakes

Over 75 species Many only leave their burrows at night Many forage during the cooler early morning. Large Herbivores/ frugivores: whitetail and mule deer, jackrabbits, javelina, beavers Large predators: coyote, black bear, gray fox, and mountain lion (The most important population regulator of herbivores in the park) 20 different species of bats -feed on nectar, pollen, insects

12 species Some live along the banks of the Rio Grande Some spend all of their time burrowed underground waiting for rain Omnivorous: algae, insects, invertebrates Prey of fish, predatory birds, snake, large fish, snakes, turtles, larger frogs, Tadpoles and eggs may be eaten by insects, turtles, leeches, fish, salamanders, or crayfish.

Leopard frog

Spadefoot Toad

Over 450 species have been sighted In the Chisos Woodlands: The colima, band-tailed pigeons, white-throated swifts, magnificent and blue-throated hummingbirds, northern flickers, acorn woodpeckers, cordilleran flycatchers, white-breasted nuthatchs, and canyon wrens, golden eagles, turkey vultures, zone-tailed hawk At night in Boot Canyon you may find the Western screech, flammulated owls, and the Mexican whippoorwill

Western Screech Owl

Golden Eagle

More Birds
Grasslands : crissal thrashers and black-chinned sparrows, and Colima warblers, ladder-backed woodpeckers, Say's phoebes, Bewick's and cactus wrens, northern mockingbirds, Scott's orioles, pyrrhuloxias, blue grosbeaks, canyon towhees, blackchinned, rufous crowned sparrows, gray vireos and varied buntings, Scaled quail, common ravens, blacktailed gnatcatchers, and Cassin's and black-throated sparrows By the River: white-winged doves, yellow-billed cuckoos, elf owls, black-chinned hummingbirds, ladder-backed woodpeckers, vermilion flycatchers, Bell's vireos, common yellowthroats, yellow-breasted chats, brown-headed cowbirds, orchard orioles, summer tanagers, northern cardinals, blue grosbeaks, and painted buntings, mourning and ground doves, western screech-owls, and hooded orioles

Endangered Species
Mexican Long-nosed Bat, which has been found nowhere else in the entire United States black-capped vireo Big Bend gambusia Rio Grande silvery minnow Big Bend Gambusia Chisos hedgehog cactus The American black bear The Texas horned lizard

Giant Reed Bermuda grass Lehmanns lovegrass Horehound Buffelgrass Russian thistle Johnson grass Saltcedar


Cacti and desert succulents

65 taxa of cacti Cacti are only in the Americas Cacti are succulents but succulents are not always cacti. Cactus spines grow out of the areole which appears to be protruding from the cactus. Lechuguilla, a succulent, is the indicator species of the Chihuahuan desert

Engelmann Prickly Pear


Grasses Trees and Shrubs
Riparian (grown by the river) trees and shrubs cottonwood, mesquite, and huisache. willows, retama, and the invasive pest saltcedar. Desert shrubs The most common type of plant in the desert Shrubs are very important to the ecosystem of Big Bend. creasote bush, ocotillo, cenizo, sotol, and mesquite. Mountain trees and shrubs pion, oak, juniper, the quaking aspen, douglas fir, drooping juniper, and ponderosa

Some documents suggest that Big Bend was largely covered in Grasslands as recently as the beginning of the 20th century. The NPS is currently involved in an effort to reintroduce grasslands to the park

Plants: Flowers
Blooming periods: Spring and Late summer Bluebonnets and Mustards bloom in early spring so if the spring rains are late or lighter than usual these and other flowers may not show up. Many of the cactus and succulents produce flowers forbs yerba raton, dogweed, paperflower, and the skeleton-leaf goldeneye bloom are opportunistic and will grow anytime the weather permits

Giant Dagger yucca

Skeleton-leaf goldeneye



Animals Plants Ecosystems

Water Soil Precipitation Sand Climate Rocks

Human History
Humans have populated the area of big bend since the Paleo-Indian period in 8000 B.C. The people of Big Bend were primarily hunter gatherers until about 1000 years ago when influence from other cultures began an age of agriculture In 1535 the expedition of Cabeza de Vaca went to the Rio Grande area to search for gold and later built a line of forts along the Rio Grande to protect northern Mexico but they were eventually abandoned because they were not effective. After the Mexican American war military forts were built in Big Bend to protect Anglo settlers from the Native By 1900 The desert was covered in sheep, goat, and cattle ranches, thus overgrazing began. At the beginning of the 20th century mineral mining came to the area and brought with it more farmers to further rape the land for everything it was once worth. Finally in the 1930s The State of Texas passed legislation protecting the park for the sake of its unparalleled beauty

Month Average High Temp (F) Average Low (F) Precipitation Average (inches) Cumulative Precipitation Average (inches) 0.46 .46 1.11 1.81 1.81 5.24 7.33 9.68 11.8 14.77 14.77 15.34 January February March April May June July August September October November December 60.9 66.2 77.4 80.7 88.0 94.2 92.9 91.1 86.4 78.8 68.5 62.2 35.0 37.8 45.3 52.3 52.3 65.5 68.3 66.4 61.9 52.7 42.3 36.4 0.46 .46 .31 .70 0.7 1.93 2.09 2.35 2.12 2.27 0.7 0.57

For a 2-Day visit

Start with a day hike by the river to eventually reach the hot springs to go for a swim At night before making a campfire but after setting up the campsite I suggest a few hours of gazing at the stars The next day go for a stroll through the desert to try to spot some of the colorful lizards, snakes, and wildflowers in bloom. If you are not too tired go walk closer to the mountains to see more exposed limestone formations

For a Week
Day 1: Walk around the area you wish to camp to find the optimal spot. This should probably be a place further away from dense trees to avoid mountain lions, or bears and to better see the stars at night. Day 2: On the second day find a guide to take you on a general tour of the park this may help you decide what you are most interested in doing and give you more familiarity with the park which can help you not to get lost. Ask the guide to take you to a particularly beautiful spot to eat lunch and ask him for advice on how best to lay your eyes on some of the wildlife. Afterwards go to sleep because you have a long day ahead of you. Day 3: If you are staying for a week you are probably an experienced enough back packer to take a canoe trip around big bend. Bring your camp gear, camp out somewhere and replenish your water supply. Day 4: Take advantage of your new setting by exploring and going for a swim before concluding your canoe trip that night. Day 5: Take a walk over to Santa Elena Canyon to see some of the exposed rock formations and to spot some colorful flying friends. Day 6: Go over the Langford Hot Springs to dip your toes in the warm water and see some of the riparian birds of that area Day 7: I would use this day to relax and to do something you feel you missed out on whether it be finding the perfect view of the park or playing a game of I spy a lechuguilla. Whatever it is really make sure to take in the vast beauty and diversity of Big Bend National park.

http://www.chisosmountainslodge.com/Big-Bend/ http://worldwildlife.org/places/chihuahuan-desert http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/geology/publicati ons/state/tx/1968-7/contents.htm http://www.big.bend.national-park.com/visit.htm http://www.maroon.com/bigbend/time/index.html http://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/coachwhip.html http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/southern_leopard_frog. htm http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-golden-eagle.html http://ddl.nmsu.edu/chihuahua.html http://fws-nmcfwru.nmsu.edu/BIBE/Invasives_data.htm http://traveltips.usatoday.com/geology-big-bend-national-park13214.html