Trailside Shopping Ops

Big Bend National Park Cottonwood Campground photo by

Cottonwood campground in Big Bend National Park, Texas, has many usual campground attractions and way more.  We watched coyotes trot

Roadrunner, beep beep!

casually across our backyard.  Roadrunners scurried a few steps, cranked their tails up and down, scurried, cranked, scurried, cranked.

Then a neighbor alerted us of spectacular nature trail sunsets–and shopping.  Not just any shopping, illicit border infiltration shopping!

Goods by Boquillas artisans offered at an overlook.

Before we got to the nature trail to peruse the wares, we discovered another shopping outlet on a scenic overlook.  As we took in the view, Steve noticed a man across the Rio Grande who climbed into a boat and rowed our way.  The boatman climbed our steep outcrop more easily than I mount our camper steps, and added another souvenir to his display.

Sunset on the Rio Grande photo by

This made me curious: is there some legal dispensation allowing cross-border merchandising visits?

No, according to a visitors center volunteer, the rangers turn a benevolent, but not blind eye.  When sellers get too aggressive, park officials confiscate and destroy the painstakingly crafted mementos. The pain is heartfelt on both sides of the border.

About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.