Big Bend National Park, Texas - 2023
Big Bend National Park on the Texas/Mexican border is one of America’s least visited National Parks whilst also being one of its most spectacular. The issue is that it’s just not that easy to get to, even for Texans who consider a three-hour drive as a work commute. There is no commercial airport within a four-hour drive of Big Bend and those living near the entrance either appear to be in a cunning witness protection programme or auditioning for Breaking Bad. It’s all a bit sketchy down on the border.
To my eye, the most visually dramatic part of the park is the Santa Elena Canyon where the Rio Grande has shaped towering cliff faces worthy of such a storied and relevant National border line. There is no need for a wall when the canyon runs 1000 feet deep.
The problem with filming here and many, including the Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones have tried, is that it has to be an early start to get into the canyon pre-dawn and pre-tourists. I think we left our motel at 3 am.
There is something rather special about filming on the Rio Grande. We could cross back and forth into Mexico by wading out a few steps from the bank. I sense the proximity to the border makes for tough folk in this part of Texas and it certainly adds to a sense of belonging. As John Steinbeck said “Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all else, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word”.