Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon Wildflowers


There's nothing like standing at the Santa Elena Canyon overlook at 4:00 in the morning. On clear nights you can see forever, a perfect place to watch the stars set as they slowly rotate behind the massive, mystical, monolith. Truly surreal.

Earlier that night I decided it was time to try Santa Elena Canyon, I had already photographed bluebonnets with the Chisos Mountains and Castellan Peak, I needed to get them with Big Bend's other major attraction.

At 6:oo am I drove to the Santa Elena trail head and started loading my backpack with camera gear, a little food and enough water to last for a long morning. The light was just bright enough so I didn't need to carry a flashlight, I hiked down to the edge of the Rio Grande river but didn't spot any flowers.

From the river I could have followed the trail up into the canyon for some spectacular views but since I was looking for flowers I decided to hike along the creek beds and see if I could get lucky. It wasn't long before I spotted several large patches of bluebonnets mixed with other flowers on a small hill overlooking the creek. Needless to say, it was an fantastic morning photographing more flowers at Big Bend.

George Hosek

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