Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
We made it up the hill out of Terlingua Abajo. It was not easy, but not as bad as Janet had worried. At one point we had to put our leveling pads under the back wheels to raise the van so that the plumbing wouldn’t get torn off the bottom. We really don’t have the clearance for that road.
After a short drive south on the rest of the Old Maverick Road, we came to the paved road that is Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Our first stop was Santa Elena Canyon — a deep canyon cut through the rock by the Rio Grande. It was similar to the Boquillas Canyon, but narrower and even more impressive. Along the side is plenty of evidence that the river beavers have been enjoying eating the willows.
From there were drove to Castolon and drove through the Cottonwood campground. At the campground there are still cottonwoods, reminding us of what the land looked like before most of the trees were harvested as shoring material for the mercury mines. The land changed considerably when the cooling effects of the cottonwoods was lost. The village of Castolon has many of the original buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. One has been turned into a museum with pictures and stories of the pioneer era. It was lovely.
Our next walk was through the Tuff Canyon. One can hike down into this canyon carved by the Blue Creek from the soft tuff. An easy mile hike and well-worth the trip.
The rest of the drive was through an ever changing (geologically) area: Flat desert with dikes of magma sticking up and the Chisos mountains. The volcanic action 29 million years ago followed by erosion has created an amazing land.
Our campsite was at Croton Springs on the north side of the park. We took the short hike to the spring, but found, as expected, that it was dry. We enjoyed a solitary and quiet evening with a couple of rabbits — both black tailed and cottontailed. We really enjoyed the opportunity to camp in places with no one else and the permit cost just $5.00 for the three nights.