Rio Grande Village is on the East side of the park. After touring around on this side of the park we decided to move our base of operations to Terlingua, TX, which is just outside the West entrance of the park. Trying to see any more of the park from Rio Grande Village would require us to travel well over 100 miles round trip from our camp.
Terlingua is advertised as a tourist destination but all we found was desert, plenty of wind, dust and abundant heat (115F). The town hosts the National Chili cook-off in November each year. Around 10,000 folks turn out for the event. Not real sure why.It must be a camp-out as well as a cook-off.
The ghost town is what is left of the mining operations at Terlingua. They extracted mercury from Cinnabar. The town prospered during the years of the two world wars. During the war times there was a great demand for mercury primarily for the manufacture of explosives. Once the war demand went away so did the town.
We toured the western portion of the park and cruised down to Santa Elana Canyon. We stopped at the only store in this part of the park and while we were there 7 guys came over and were visiting with us. They were firemen that had been assembled to manage a fire that had been started by lightning. They were from the Everglades, Utah and Arizona. One guy was a smoke jumper. A couple of them had been on 14 day trips into the Grand Canyon. One of them used to spent time in the canyon when he was in college mapping prehistoric trails and he ended up writing his thesis on the subject. Interesting collection of fellas.