Big Bend Ranch State Park (Texas)
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a 269714 acres (109,149.5 ha) state park located on the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 in Brewster County
Brewster County, Texas
Brewster County is a county located in western part of the US state of Texas, along the border with Mexico. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. As of the 2000 census, the population is 8,866. In 2009, the population was estimated to be 9,481. Its...

 and Presidio County
Presidio County, Texas
Presidio County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, its population was 7,304. Its county seat is Marfa. Presidio County is in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas and is named for the ancient border settlement of Presidio del Norte.-Geography:Presidio County is triangular in...

, Texas. It is the largest state park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

 in Texas. The closest major town is Presidio, Texas
Presidio, Texas
Presidio is a city in Presidio County, Texas, United States. It stands on the Rio Grande , on the opposite side of the U.S.-Mexico border from Ojinaga, Chihuahua. The population was 4,167 at the 2000 census....

, where the state park's head office is located.


Big Bend Ranch is located adjacent to Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Texas. Big Bend has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States, which includes more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56...

 and shares the national park's Chihuahuan Desert
Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is a desert, and an ecoregion designation, that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border in the central and northern portions of the Mexican Plateau, bordered on the west by the extensive Sierra Madre Occidental range, and overlaying northern portions of the east range, the Sierra...

 ecosystem. However, in one significant aspect the state park is managed very differently from the nearby national park, as the state park encompasses a network of cattle ranches operated according to the principle of the open range
Open range
Open range may refer to: vast areas of grassy land that is owned by the federal government.*Rangeland, vast natural landscapes*Open Range, the 2003 Western movie co-starring, co-produced, and directed by Kevin Costner...

. A herd of longhorn
Texas longhorn (cattle)
The Texas Longhorn is a breed of cattle known for its characteristic horns, which can extend to tip to tip for steers and exceptional cows, and tip to tip for bulls. Horns can have a slight upward turn at their tips or even triple twist. Texas Longhorns are known for their diverse coloring...

 cattle is based here, and there is a semi-annual longhorn roundup.

The Big Bend Ranch manages 23 miles (37 km) of frontage along the Rio Grande river, and river rafting
Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this...

 is popular here. Away from the river, visitors can hike, backpack, go horseback riding or enjoy mountain biking in the Big Bend Ranch's substantial backcountry
A backcountry area in general terms is a geographical region that is:* isolated* remote* undeveloped* difficult to accessThe term may apply to various regions that are reasonably close to urban areas but are:* not immediately accessible by car...

. The park is open year round and an admission fee is charged.


Desert vegetation dominates the park including lechuguilla and grama
Bouteloua is a genus of the grass family, Poaceae. Members of the genus are commonly known as Grama. The genus was named for Claudio and Esteban Boutelou, 19th century Spanish botanists.-Selected species:-External links:*...

. Other common plants include sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri
Dasylirion wheeleri is a flowering plant native to arid environments of northern Mexico, in Chihuahua and Sonora and in the southwestern United States, in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and also in New Mexico and Texas.-Description:Dasylirion wheeleri is a moderate to slow-growing evergreen shrub...

, ocotillo and mesquite
Mesquite is a leguminous plant of the Prosopis genus found in northern Mexico through the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Deserts, and up into the Southwestern United States as far north as southern Kansas, west to the Colorado Desert in California,and east to the eastern fifth of Texas, where...

. Along the Rio Grande and around some of the springs in the park are reed
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

s, willow
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

s, and cottonwood and ash trees. The park contains most of the existing populations of the federally threatened Hinckley oak
Quercus hinckleyi
Quercus hinckleyi is a rare species of oak known by the common name Hinckley oak. It is native to Texas in the United States, where it occurs in only two counties. The oak has probably become rare not because of habitat loss, but because today's climate in its native area is too dry...



Common animals in the park include mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, collared peccary
Collared Peccary
The collared peccary is a species of mammal in the family Tayassuidae that is found in North, Central, and South America. They are commonly referred to as javelina, saíno or báquiro, although these terms are also used to describe other species in the family...

 and many species of lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

. Rarer animals include the cougar, golden eagle
Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas...

, bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

, peregrine falcon
Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine Falcon , also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the Duck Hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and "moustache"...

, zone-tailed hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
The Zone-tailed Hawk is a medium-sized hawk of warm, dry parts of the Americas. It feeds on small vertebrates of all kinds , including birds up to the size of quail....

 and western mastiff bat
Western mastiff bat
The western mastiff bat , also known as the western bonneted bat, the greater mastiff bat, or the greater bonneted bat, is a member of the free-tailed bat family, Molossidae. It is found in the Western United States, Mexico and South America, and is the largest bat native to North America...

. As of 2011, park management is attempting to re-establish a self-sustaining population of desert bighorn sheep
Desert Bighorn Sheep
The Desert Bighorn Sheep is a subspecies of Bighorn Sheep that occurs in the desert Southwest regions of the United States and in the northern regions of Mexico. The trinomial of this species commemorates the American naturalist Edward William Nelson...



The Big Bend Ranch is home to Madrid Falls, the second highest waterfall in Texas. The terrain around Madrid Falls makes it difficult to access.


Big Bend Ranch State Park was expected to enjoy an estimated 2,500 visitors in 2008, a relatively low level of visitation for a park of its size.

Recent events

The Nature Conservancy of Texas announced in November 2008 that they had purchased the Fresno Ranch, a 7000 acres (2,832.8 ha) inholding
An inholding is privately owned land inside the boundary of a national park, national forest, state park, or similar publicly owned, protected area...

 within the state park, for the purpose of planning the transfer of the land to the state park for integrated park management purposes and eventual public enjoyment. The price was said to be $2.6 million. The ranch, which occupied several comparatively well-watered parcels of land within the park's boundaries, was in the southeastern quadrant of the park.

In early 2011, the Texas Parks and Wildife Department oversaw the transport of 29 desert bighorn sheep to the Bofecillos Range. It was hoped that this herd would become the ancestral animals of a self-sustaining population of bighorns within the park. The last unmanaged population of Texas desert bighorn sheep was shot or died about 1958.

See also

  • Big Bend National Park
    Big Bend National Park
    Big Bend National Park is a national park located in the U.S. state of Texas. Big Bend has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States, which includes more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56...

  • List of Texas state parks
  • Trans-Pecos
    The term Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, refers to the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas...

  • Guadalupe Mountains
    Guadalupe Mountains
    The Guadalupe Mountains are a mountain range located in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The range includes the highest summit in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, , and the "signature peak" of West Texas, El Capitan, both located within Guadalupe Mountains National Park, as well as Carlsbad Caverns...

  • McKittrick Canyon
    McKittrick Canyon
    McKittrick Canyon is a scenic canyon within the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas. The steep towering walls of McKittrick Canyon protect a rich riparian oasis in the midst of the Chihuahuan Desert....

External links

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