Big Bend

By:Lizzy Aedan Sohum

Come visit the Big Bend


West Texas has wide-open spaces with rugged plateaus (plat-toes) and desert mountains. The plateaus have short grasses and brush. The desert area is part of the great Chihuahuan (chee-wow-when) Desert of Mexico. The only mountains in Texas are found here.

Big Bend Country is a region of extremes. The desert is dry and hot in the day and cool at night. Plants and animals are adapted for the desert. The mountains provide cold weather in the winter, where on occasion it even snows. Forests grow on the slopes. The slopes of these mountains can grow trees because the high, cooler mountain tops cause precipitation to fall from clouds moving over the peaks.

The Rio Grande River runs along the southern part of the Big Bend Country. It forms the border between Texas and Mexico. The Rio Grande is one of the longest rivers in North America. This region is called "Big Bend" because the Rio Grande River turns here in a big bend. Look at a map of Texas. Can you see the big bend created by the Rio Grande River? Kayakers enjoy the rapids of the Rio Grande River and beautiful canyons along this part of the river.

Many people come to this part of Texas to see its mountains. The three highest mountain ranges are the Guadalupe Mountains, Davis Mountains and Chisos Mountains. The highest peak is Guadalupe Peak far in West Texas. The Franklin Mountains are on the edge of El Paso. All of the mountains have parks and many people enjoy hiking here.

Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch are located here.

Learn more about its wildlife and history.

Topography and Characteristics

Major River: Rio Grande
Major Aquifer: Hueco-Mesilla Bolson
Size: 38,000 sq mi.

Big Bend Country is also known as the Trans-Pecos. It covers the extreme western part of the state east to the Pecos River. The different soils and elevations in this region support diverse habitats and vegetation, from desert valleys and plateaus to wooded mountain slopes.

Mountain outwash materials formed the soils of the Trans-Pecos. Surface textures vary. The soil is generally alkaline.

Elevations range from 2,500 feet to more than 8,749 feet at Guadalupe Peak. Although most of Texas is located on flat plains or rolling plains, there are mountains in far West Texas. The highest point in the state is Guadalupe Peak at 8,749 feet above sea level. Elevation naturally rises from the east to the west and from the south to the north.The cliffs also protected artifacts from the rain and sun. Archaeologists have found baskets, sandals, leather clothing, arrows, nets, and other unique items. These artifacts are very valuable since very few things physically remain from early Native American culture except stone tools.

El Paso, one of the most important and oldest cities in Texas, sits on the far west border of the Big Bend region. El Paso means “the pass” in Spanish. In this mountainous region, the Rio Grande provides an easy passage between Mexico and Texas. The Spanish missionaries and conquistadors realized the importance of settling down near the pass, and many settlements were built along the Rio Grande near El Paso. In 1680, after the war between the Spanish and the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, the Spanish and some of those Indians came to live in these settlements. The Tigua Indians, who came from New Mexico at that time, still live near El Paso in a settlement called Isleta.

The Big Bend region is a place where wildlife and people have not only adapted to the stark environmental conditions, they have managed to thrive. If those painted canyon walls could speak, imagine the stories they would tell! Ancient Native Americans and the Pueblo Indians, the Spanish, African-American, and Old World immigrants made their mark on the region in different ways, making it the unique cultural crossroads it is today.Big Bend is part of a dry desert. It also has mountains!



The Big Bend is awesome !!!