Santa Elena Canyon under the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA
© Stanley Ford/Shutterstoc
Big sky at Big Bend
The Milky Way is seen here glittering over the Rio Grande river and the towering walls of Santa Elena Canyon, in Texas, on the US border with Mexico. The views in Big Bend National Park, far from urban light pollution, are some of the clearest in the USA and have earned it an official status as an International Dark Sky Park.
It’s not just big skies here in Big Bend. This vast park protects more than 800,000 acres of mountains, rivers and desert – including the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest in North America. It is also the only US national park to contain an entire mountain range within its borders. The name comes from a big bend in the Rio Grande which runs for about 120 miles along the park’s boundary, just part of its nearly 2,000-mile journey from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico.