June 17, 2016

The Journey: Big Bend National Park, Texas

In our recurring feature "The Journey," we highlight scenic and interesting drives that can be made in a weekend

Big Bend National Park is home to endless blue skies, towering limestone cliffs, huge tracts of desert, and rugged mountain ranges. It's situated on the U.S.-Mexican border, west of San Antonio and east of El Paso, and its gorgeous vistas make it a great road trip destination.

Getting to Big Bend isn't easy—the nearest airport is in Midland, Texas, an oil town located about 160 miles away. Big Bend's remote location is probably what makes it one of America's least-visited parks, but it's a beautiful hidden gem worth checking out.

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Start your journey in Marathon, an old cattle town with historic lodging and dining options. The Gage Hotel is a great place to grab a meal and spend the night if you've just driven in from Midland.

From there, stock your car with food and whatever other provisions you'll need, and get ready to enter Big Bend. Take U.S. 385 South to Panther Junction, where you'll find a great self-guided nature tour called Panther Trail.

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On the 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, you'll find remarkable geologic splendor, with places to take in the scenery along the way—Sotol Vista, Mule Ears Overlook, and Tuff Canyon are all great places to stop.

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Next, take the River Road (FM-170) and take in the beautiful views of the Rio Grande. Drive through the historic former ghost town Terlingua, built by miners about a hundred years ago and recently updated to provide comfortable accommodations and dining.

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Head north on 118 to Alpine, a traditional Mexican neighborhood surrounded by mile-high peaks. Then take Hwy. 90 west along the breathtaking Paisano Pass. Thereafter you'll come to Marfa, a major center for Minimalist art. It boasts a wide range of attractions, including the Chianti Foundation, artisan shops, and historic buildings. In addition, Prada Marfa is worth a drive and an impromptu photoshoot with your travel companions—it's an art installation and fake Prada store located in the sprawling, otherwise-empty desert.

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Many individuals and local authorities have already jumped on the opportunity to remind users to drive safely. There are even signs popping up on highways to encourage safer driving.

Luckily, there are tools out there to help the tech-obsessed (or the poke-obsessed) improve their driving. One of our favorites is an app called TrueMotion Family! The app analyzes your driving in order to provide you with a score - and insights as to how you drive. It's perfect for parents who want to monitor their teen drivers. The app gives parents the power to see where their kids drive, and produces a 'report card' on their driving in addition to an assessment of whether they were driving distracted (using their cell phone). Plus, families have access to roadside assistance on-demand from right within the TrueMotion app.

I don’t remember Ash, Misty, or Brock driving cars in their quest to be the very best, like no one ever was. And there aren’t vehicles any in PokemonGO. At Urgent.ly, we love the game and just like you, we’re prepared to travel across the land searching far and wide to catch 'em all, but we encourage you to put safety first in your travels! Remember that the power of Pokemon is awesome in augmented reality but automobiles are a powerful tool meant for use in the real world and require optimum focus to operate safely. In a world we must defend, you can start by driving safely, and catch and train ‘em all when you’re not operating a vehicle.

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