Big Bend National Park vs Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

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Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are both natural wonders that offer visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the great outdoors. But these two national parks are vastly different in terms of the landscapes, climate, and activities they offer. One is a desert oasis in the heart of Texas, while the other is a wilderness paradise in the heart of Alaska. Imagine the contrast between the Chihuahuan Desert and the rugged Alaskan wilderness. If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you from the scorching heat of the desert to the crisp, cold air of the Alaskan tundra, then these two national parks are for you. In this article, we will take a closer look at what makes Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve so special, and help you decide which one is the perfect destination for your next adventure.

Hiking Trails in Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are both popular national parks in the United States, but they offer visitors very different hiking experiences.

Big Bend National Park, located in the Chihuahuan Desert in western Texas, offers a wide variety of hiking trails that range from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks. The park has over 150 miles of trails to explore. The Chisos Basin Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and it offers a moderate hike with great views of the surrounding mountains. Another popular hike is the Lost Mine Trail, which is considered a moderate hike and offers great views of the surrounding desert. The South Rim Trail is considered the most strenuous hike in the park, and it offers great views of the surrounding desert and mountains.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is located in the Alaska Range and offers visitors a chance to explore the rugged wilderness of Alaska. The park has over 80 miles of trails to explore. The Tanalian Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and it offers a moderate hike with great views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Twin Lakes Trail is considered a moderate hike and offers great views of the surrounding lakes and wildlife. The Telaquana Trail is considered the most strenuous hike in the park, and it offers great views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

In summary, Big Bend National Park offers a wide variety of hiking trails that range from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks, while Lake Clark National Park & Preserve offers visitors a chance to explore the rugged wilderness of Alaska through its hiking trails that range from moderate hikes to strenuous hikes. Both parks offer a different type of hiking experience, making them ideal destinations for different types of visitors.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Big Bend National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Lost Mine Trail 4.19 mi 1,098.80 ft out and back Moderate 5/5
South Rim Trail – Boot Springs Trail 10.98 mi 2,328.80 ft loop Hard 5/5
The Window Trail 5.19 mi 947.92 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Emory Peak Trail 8.48 mi 2,400.96 ft out and back Hard 5/5
Santa Elena Canyon Trail 1.50 mi 610.08 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Balanced Rock Trail 1.90 mi 232.88 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Boquillas Canyon Trail 1.20 mi 229.60 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Hot Springs Canyon Trail 5.49 mi 921.68 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Outer Mountain Loop 24.05 mi 5,707.20 ft loop Hard 4.5/5
Big Bend Hot Springs Trail 1.10 mi 127.92 ft loop Easy 4/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
0.00 mi 0.00 ft /5

Wildlife in Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve both offer visitors the opportunity to see a diverse array of wildlife.

Big Bend National Park is home to a variety of animals, including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina, and mountain lions. The park also has a variety of birds, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and roadrunners. Additionally, the park has a variety of plants, including cacti, agave, and yucca.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is home to a variety of animals, including brown bears, black bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The park also has a variety of birds, including trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles. Additionally, the park has a variety of plants, including willows, cottonwoods, and alders.

In summary, Big Bend National Park is known for its desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, javelina, mountain lions, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and roadrunners and a variety of plants such as cacti, agave, and yucca, while Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is known for its brown bears, black bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles, and a variety of plants such as willows, cottonwoods, and alders.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Big Bend National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail American Wigeon
American Wigeon Green-Winged Teal
Green-Winged Teal American Pipit

Mammals

Big Bend National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Bobcat Black Bear
Striped Skunk Porcupine
Deer Mouse Red Fox
Raccoon Mink
Black Bear Gray Wolf
Porcupine Short-Tailed Weasel
Silver-Haired Bat Snowshoe Hare
Hoary Bat Northern River Otter
Long-Tailed Weasel Masked Shrew
House Mouse Water Shrew
Mountain Lion Red Squirrel
Mule Deer Montane Shrew
Common Gray Fox Lynx
Gray Wolf Wolverine
Long-Legged Myotis American Marten
American Badger Brown Bear
California Myotis Meadow Vole
Fringed Myotis Moose
Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat Least Weasel
Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Pygmy Shrew
Western Harvest Mouse Meadow Jumping Mouse

Amphibians

Big Bend National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Barred Tiger Salamander Wood Frog
American Bullfrog
Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad
Red-Spotted Toad
Canyon Treefrog

Fish

Big Bend National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Largemouth Bass Steelhead
Green Sunfish Longnose Sucker
Bluegill Lake Trout
Fathead Minnow Northern Pike
Common Carp Burbot
Longnose Dace Silver Salmon
Yellow Bullhead King Salmon
Channel Catfish Slimy Sculpin
Mosquitofish Threespine Stickleback
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden
Arctic Grayling

Beautiful Landscapes in Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are both home to some of the most striking and diverse landscapes in the country.

Big Bend National Park, located in southwest Texas, is known for its rugged desert landscapes, including the Chisos Mountains, the highest range in Texas, which offer spectacular views of the surrounding desert. The park also features beautiful canyons, including Santa Elena Canyon, which is a popular spot for rafting and kayaking, and the Boquillas Canyon, which is known for its scenic hiking trails. Additionally, the park is home to a variety of hot springs, including the popular hot spring at Hot Springs Canyon.

On the other hand, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, located in Alaska, is known for its rugged, remote wilderness landscapes, including the impressive volcano Mount Redoubt and the stunningly beautiful Lake Clark, which is surrounded by towering peaks and glaciers. The park also features picturesque glaciers, including the massive Portage Glacier, which is accessible by boat, and the stunning Telaquana Glacier, which can be seen from a number of hiking trails in the park. Additionally, the park is home to a wide variety of waterfalls, including the stunning Skilak Glacier Falls, which is one of the most beautiful and accessible falls in the park.

In summary, both Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve offer visitors the chance to see some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the country. The Big Bend National Park is known for its rugged desert landscapes, canyons, hot springs, and the Chisos Mountains, while the Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is known for its rugged, remote wilderness landscapes, including its impressive volcano, glaciers, and waterfalls.

Things To-Do and Activities in Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve both offer visitors a variety of activities, but they have different focal points.

Big Bend National Park is known for its hiking and backpacking opportunities. The park has over 150 miles of trails, offering a range of difficulty levels, from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks. Additionally, the park offers scenic drives, stargazing, and river activities such as rafting and kayaking on the Rio Grande. Visitors can also take guided horseback riding, and scenic flight tours, and learn about the park’s rich cultural history through ranger-led programs and guided tours.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is known for its opportunities to view wildlife and its scenic beauty. The park is home to a large population of brown bears, and visitors can take guided bear viewing trips to see them in their natural habitat. Visitors can also take guided fishing trips and boat tours to explore the park’s glaciers, fjords, and remote lakes. The park also has a variety of hiking and backpacking trails, but they are less developed and more strenuous than the trails in Big Bend National Park.

In summary, Big Bend National Park is known for its hiking and backpacking opportunities, scenic drives, stargazing, river activities, horseback riding, scenic flight tours, and ranger-led programs, while Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is known for its wildlife viewing opportunities, guided bear viewing trips, fishing and boat tours, and remote hiking and backpacking trails.

Best Time to Visit Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are both located in very different regions of the United States, and as a result, they have very different seasonal weather patterns.

Big Bend National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert in western Texas and the weather is characterized by hot summers and mild winters. The park is typically very hot during the summer months, with daytime temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to visit the park is during the spring and fall when the weather is milder. The park is also known for its beautiful wildflowers during the spring and the fall.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is located in the Alaska Range and the weather is characterized by cool summers and very cold winters. The park is typically very cold during the winter months, with temperatures dropping well below freezing. The best time to visit the park is during the summer months when the weather is milder and the park is accessible by boat or floatplane. The park is also known for its beautiful wildflowers during the summer months.

In summary, the best time to visit Big Bend National Park is during the spring and fall when the weather is milder, while the best time to visit Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is during the summer months when the weather is milder and the park is accessible by boat or floatplane. Both parks offer different weather experience, making them ideal destinations for different types of visitors.

Family Friendliness of Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Big Bend National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are both great options for families looking to experience the beauty of nature, but they have different levels of family-friendliness.

Big Bend National Park offers a variety of activities that are suitable for families with children, including hiking on easy trails, such as the Lost Mine Trail, which offers great views of the Chisos Mountains and the surrounding desert. The park also offers ranger-led activities and educational programs for children, as well as a number of picnic areas and campsites. Additionally, the park features several short nature trails with interpretive signs that are great for introducing children to the natural world.

On the other hand, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is a more remote and rugged wilderness area, which makes it less suitable for families with young children. The park has limited facilities and services, and most of the park’s activities, such as hiking, fishing, and boating, require a certain level of physical fitness and outdoor experience. Additionally, the park’s remote location, and the unpredictable Alaskan weather, can make it challenging for families to plan their visit.

In summary, Big Bend National Park is a more family-friendly option than Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. Big Bend National Park offers a variety of activities and facilities that are suitable for families with children, and it’s more accessible and easier to plan a visit. While Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is a beautiful and wild place, it’s better suited for families with older children or experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

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