I often get asked about my travels through the Big Bend and where my favorite spots to shoot are. This is a tough question for me to answer. And I’m sure my attempts have been met with some frustration and eye rolling
I do not have a favorite spot. Anywhere in the Big Bend region is my favorite spot. Well, just about anywhere… maybe not that lumpy, sloped and spider-infested spot that I tried to sleep on once while tent camping near Dominguez Springs.
However, I can think of one spot, a #VantagePoint that stands out and is a frequent stop for me during my travels to the Big Bend region.
Just east of the western entrance gate of Big Bend National Park along Highway 118 is a small parking lot on the north side of the road. You’ll probably not notice it as you drive past. I rarely ever see anyone parked there. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wandering out in the desert near that little lot.
Hike just a few yards to the north and you’ll come to a broad, open arroyo. This mini-canyon is a dry, wide opening in the Earth that is filled with interesting curves and colors. You can stroll right up to the edge of this impressive viewpoint and enjoy a quiet slice of desert. Several mountains spread across the horizon in front of you.
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You’ll be greeted with an amazing silence. Nothing is more relaxing than to NOT hear the din of man-made sounds that we’re all too used to. You’ll hear the crunch of gravel under your feet and probably the wind blowing through the tall, spindly ocotillo. But gone are leaf blowers, car horns, angry people, giant freeways, and huge commercial jets.
The smell of the desert is clean and sometimes colored lightly with fragrance from the creosote bushes all around. The refreshing dry air will remind you how much you hate humidity when you feel the lack of it.
The sights? It’s probably not the greatest view in the park. It’s certainly not one of the iconic views you see online and in publications. But it’s still an amazing spot. It’s amazing because it has all the elements of what makes the Big Bend so great and it’s super easy to get to.
Even more amazing is to wait until after dark. Look in a southerly direction from this parking lot, and depending on the time of year, the Milky Way will stretch up above the horizon.
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I have enjoyed this spot and also photographed it many times over the past 10 years with a variety of different cameras. I even take my workshop students there sometimes.
It’s a location that you can hit quickly and move on if you have to. I prefer to spend more than just five minutes there, but that’s not always possible depending on my travel companions.
It helps to have good quality and highly portable camera gear if you’re going light and moving fast. My post from the other day described some of the cameras I’ve used when trying to minimize the gear needed.
Building upon what I said and looking ahead to new options, there is a new camera out now that has the features and specs to potentially be a superb go-fast-n-light pocket-able camera: the Light L16.
I’ve yet to see any reviews from real-world users, so I’ll reserve my judgement until later. The L16 has a unique approach and technology to capturing images that could potentially put it on a level with cameras that use much larger sensors considering the quality of the images.
And it runs on Android. THAT is exciting.