After our day of exploring three canyons, visiting hot springs, and lunching in Mexico, it was time to head back to our campsite at Cottonwood Campground. The sun was setting in earnest as we passed back around the great bulk of the Chisos Mountains at the center of the park. On the western slopes, the dramatic light of the setting sun caused us to pull over and take in the vista.
Perhaps the most striking elements of the western face of the Chisos range are the lines of igneous rock that cut like huge, ancient stone walls across the slopes. These are lines of magma that pushed up and cooled beneath the earth. The hard igneous rock that forms them was left standing when the softer sedimentary deposits eroded away. In the light of the setting sun, they were particularly striking.
Looking up, it felt like the craters of the half moon were almost as close as the formations of the Chisos.
We continued down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and up onto the top of Burro Mesa, where we turned up a ridge to the Sotol Vista parking area. The view stretched across the western part of the park into Mexico and beyond.
We continued on from Sotol Vista before the sun had fully set so that we could see the Mule Ears Peaks before the light was gone.
Back in camp, we made dinner by headlamp and spent some time looking at photos from the day and beginning to ID some of the species we’d seen. Soon, though, it was time for bed. Despite some nearby campers who were a little loud, we slept soundly after a very full first day in the park.
The morning of Monday, November 11 was a bit overcast, which made for a very dramatic sunrise.