Ocatillo glow orange in the sunrise light in Big Bend, overlooking the Rio Grande under a deep blue sky

At Big Bend National Park, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail climbs a series of switchbacks into the mouth of the famed gorge. Most hikers come to admire the sheer limestone walls, which rise 1,000 feet from the Rio Grande. But the return hike offers a strikingly different view of the river as it bends through the desert with the Chisos Mountains in the distance. “I am continually drawn to Big Bend because of the grand, rugged beauty,” says photographer Rob Greebon, who took this photo one early morning in November 2019. “The remoteness of the area, and the beauty and life that thrive in this harsh landscape, amazes me.”

From the December 2020 issue

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