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Big Bend National Park

On June 12, 1944, Big Bend National Park became a reality in Texas. An area of markedly contrasting elevations – from Rio Grande shoreline at 550 m (1800 ft) to Emory Peak at 12600 m (7,832 ft) – is home to many varied microclimates that accommodate plant and animal diversity.

Big Bend contains one of the most pristine samples of America’s Chihuahuan Desert. The park’s complex geology has an historical range from 500 million year-old rock to current, shifting sand dunes. That means Paleozoic ocean sediments in layers of sandstone and shale; Cretaceous marine organisms in other layers; fossils, petrified wood, uplifts, rifts, fractures, even hot springs. And centuries of erosion by the young Rio Grande river system. So much, so varied, so changing, the park is presently undergoing new topographic mapping.

Even at night, Big Bend National Park keeps on showing its stuff. A national park that boasts the least nighttime light pollution, Big Bend’s nightscape offers panoramic viewing of a horizon that, on a clear night, extends over 400 km (250 mi) of brilliant starlight.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific And Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named Big Bend a Biosphere Reserve. As part of the UNESCO scientific program, Big Bend represents a U.S. ecological area with mutually reinforcing functions in conservation, sustainable development, and logistic support for scientific research and education.

B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage