A pair of hikers stand on a bluff overlooking a valley and tall mountains

Photo: Texas Department of Transportation

The air is rare at the top of Big Bend National Park, an 800,000-acre expanse of towering mesas and deep river canyons on the U.S.-Mexico border. This Texas Highways archival photograph by Jack Lewis shows a pair of Austinites enjoying one of Big Bend’s most popular features: the South Rim trail through the Chisos Mountains, a 12.6-mile trek that gains 2,000 feet in elevation. Richard Craig (left) sits on a rocky outcropping and peers through a pair of binoculars, taking in the mesmerizing vistas visible from the trail. There’s an astonishing variety of native wildlife to see here, too, including Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer, Mexican jays with electric-blue plumage, and the colima warbler, an extremely rare songbird that can only be found in the Chisos. Craig’s buddy, Kirt Kiester, stands among the rocks and catches his breath under the shade of a bucket hat. That makes sense—this is a hot, hostile environment where temperatures can exceed 110 degrees in the summer. Craig and Kiester’s hike will continue to Emory Peak, the highest elevation in the park, at 7,832 feet. —Christopher Collins

Know of any fascinating vintage Texas photographs? Send copies or ideas to [email protected].

Enjoying this article?

Get more Texas in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletters and never miss a moment of what’s happening around the state.