Road trips from Southern California: Texas
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( Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )
Big Bend National Park
Distance: 1,142 miles one-way
It has craggy mountains, cactus-studded slopes, miles of meandering Rio Grande and a couple of born-again ghost towns at its edge, but Big Bend ranks among the National Park Service's least-visited parks, and that won't change any time soon.
The summers are infernally hot. Except for a handful of days per year, rafters can expect nothing more challenging than a Class III rapid. And if you're from outside Texas, getting here means flying to Midland or El Paso, then driving about five hours while deer, rabbits, coyotes, skunks, armadillos and javelinas scamper and shuffle in and out of your high beams.
-- Christopher Reynolds
Read more: Twists and tunes, on a Rio Grande rafting trip