Friends Of Big Bend National Park

July 17, 2015Mark DeSantisNPF Blog

It’s not uncommon for a trip to one of our country’s national parks to make a life-changing impact on a visitor. The sweeping vistas, rich cultural connections, and deeply rooted history found within these national treasures is enough to convert even the most casual traveler into an ardent life-long supporter.

But sometimes, just the opposite can take place. Sometimes, it’s not the visitor that is changed for the better, but rather the park itself that sees improvement and growth after welcoming a traveler onto its grounds.

That’s just what happened back in 1996 when a few visitors took their annual trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas. 

Sun rising over Big Bend

Drawing inspiration from national park support efforts around the country, as well as their most recent visit to Big Bend National Park, a handful of park enthusiasts set out to give back to the park that provided them with so much over the years. 

After some hard work and collaboration with park staff and community members, Friends of Big Bend National Park was officially formed.

Since then, the group has worked in partnership with the National Park Service to support, promote, and raise funds for both Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, Friends of Big Bend National Park will be capping off 20 years of service and dedication to the park and surrounding community.

In just these 20 years, Friends of Big Bend raised over $2.7 million for the park – paying for services and programs like the Trespass Livestock Reduction Project, the Teacher Ranger Teacher Program, and their newest, largest project yet – the $1.3 million Fossil Discovery Exhibit.

Ancient fish fossil

This ambitious project will improve the main road into the park and mark the first new exhibit at Big Bend National Park in over 35 years. Thanks to the generosity of supporters from across the nation – including the National Park Foundation – the Fossil Discovery Exhibit will provide an opportunity to highlight the unique archaeological story of the park. 

This incredible geological story will be displayed in a state-of-the-art exhibit designed for all ages and abilities. One of the most exciting and interactive features of the exhibit will be touchable casts of ancient creatures designed for kids to climb on and discover up close.


Ancient sea creature fossil

Big Bend National Park is home to the largest collection of Cretaceous era fossils within the National Park Service. These fossils range from creatures of the ancient seas to early mammals. The park is one of the only public places on Earth where visitors can see the K-T boundary – the geologic timeframe that saw the mass extinction of many life forms, most notably the dinosaurs.

You can learn more about the Fossil Discovery Exhibit – set to open to the public in 2016 – or any of the other incredible projects underway by visiting the Friends of Big Bend website today.

Photo credits: Kirsten Thompson via Share the Experience and Friends of Big Bend National Park.

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