The view along the Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park, in Texas
Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday! Here are some interesting facts for you about Big Bend National Park, in Texas.
- There are over 60 species of cactus, 450 species of birds, 1,200 plant species, and 3,600 insect species found in this national park.
- The name Big Bend comes from a bend in the Rio Grande River, which runs along the park boundary.
- In 2012, the park was named an International Dark Sky Park, which means it’s awesome for star gazing.
I first visited this national park in 2013 and made 4 more trips there before moving out of Texas. I visited during the winter and spring, when the temperatures were at their most ambient. Late spring was awesome for blooming cactus. And, speaking of visiting, Big Bend is entering it’s busy season, so if you are planning to travel there anytime soon, you’d probably better have alternate lodging plans in case you can’t find an available campsite, according to an article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read more of that article, click on the image at the top of this post.
A strawberry pitaya bloom, Big Bend National Park, in Texas
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Canon, flowers, Fun Fact Friday, Landscape, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Travel, winter
Strawberry Pitaya Cactus Bloom
One of the reasons I traveled so far to visit Big Bend National Park, Texas, in late April, was to view and photograph the blooming cacti. I don’t know what it is about being so excited to see these lovely flowers as opposed to any other spring wildflower. Perhaps it’s because I am always so amazed to see something so prickly and painful produce something so colorful and delicate.
Englemanns (?) Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms
Pollen-Laden Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
Claret Cup Bloom
Strawberry Pitaya Cactus
Tree Cholla Bloom
Bee and Cholla Bloom
Two Bees in a Prickly Pear Bloom
Prickly Pear Bloom
Bird’s Nest in a Blooming Cholla
I used several different methods for achieving these blooming cacti shots – all without the use of a dedicated macro lens:
- Canon 70-200 or Canon 100-400 telephoto lens zoomed in at their longest focal length
- Canon 40mm “pancake” lens with a close-up filter attached
- Pentax WG-3 point & shoot using its macro mode
- Canon 24-70mm at the 70mm focal length with the image ultimately cropped
Blooming Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert Scenery in Big Bend National Park
For my first vacation of the year, I drove from my home in southeast Texas to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas – a 13-hour drive (if my friend or her husband had let me borrow one of their brand new Corvettes, it might have only been a 2-hour drive)
I’d visited the park back in December 2013 and I returned to that park for two reasons: the starry night skies (it was a new moon when I visited) and the blooming cacti.
So, where does the ocotillo come in?
Because it’s not a cactus.
Even though it has thorns. Lots of ‘em.
No, an ocotillo is a shrub. Most of the year, it looks dead. But, when it rains, it puts out lots of little green leaves and these beautiful, orange-red tubular blooms. The leaves fall off pretty quickly in an effort to conserve water, but these blooms remain for a bit longer. Ocotillos can live between 60-100 years and grow 20 feet tall.
The ocotillo is a pretty cool plant.