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National park tips: This may be the most fetching stretch of river in all Texas

National park tips: This may be the most fetching stretch of river in all Texas
Raft trips are a winter tradition along the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park, Texas. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Down along the Texas-Mexico border, the Rio Grande slips into a series of deep canyons and dramatic desert landscapes. That's Big Bend National Park, and it's a great place for a mellow raft trip. (Here's the story of a trip I did back in 2008.)

You won't find any white water to speak of, but the sense of isolation and profound canyon vistas will stay with you. For all the watery pleasures to be had on San Antonio's River Walk or the lakes around Austin, Big Bend (about 425 miles west of Austin) is a landscape on a whole different scale.

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By the way, the park's gateway town is tiny, spicy Terlingua, the chili cook-off capital of Texas.

In honor of this year's National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We'll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds

See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.

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