Big Spring is on the eastern margin of the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plains, which extend north from Midland up into the Texas Panhandle. Here, at the eastern edge of the Llano, is where some erosional remnants of Cretaceous carbonates break up the flatness of the landscape that dominates the area to the west. From Big Spring east and south, several more ridges of Cretaceous Edwards limestone are visible. Most are capped with a line or two of big white three-bladed windmills. The Edwards Plateau extends east to Austin, where is it chopped off by the Balcones Fault Zone. Beyond Austin, Cretaceous rocks take a big step down in section and the surface is again dominated by Tertiary and younger sediments, mostly sand and gravel. West of Big Spring, on the Llano Estacado, the surface is again mostly Tertiary-age Ogallala gravels. The Edwards Plateau is an erosional window to an older time. Any Tertiary-age sand and gravel has been stripped away by erosion and washed down toward the Gulf of Mexico.
I've passed through Big Spring but never stopped to take a look at the little state park here. Pulling off the interstate, I could see the hill in the distance upon which the park rests. I was surprised to see it covered with green and healthy-looking junipers. We rolled into the (free) state park and up to the scenic overlook. We hiked from there down to an MIA/POW memorial and saw some interesting plant life along the way:
Our first view off the top of the mesa to the west. Notice the juniper drape right down to the end of the slope.
I don't know what this plant is, but I bet it was a pretty flower during rainier times.
The seeds in these pods are so cool, all stacked up, they look like fish gills. Or some kind of insects nesting in the pod. Once it breaks open more the seeds begin to spill out.
Many of the prickly pear pads had these yellow-green "hairs" on them. Are they developing spikes? No, they're in the wrong place. New pads? No, too many. Flowers-to-be? I don't know!
A Texas Holly bush growing within the confines of a juniper. I wonder if the juniper serves as a "nurse plant" like palo verde do to saguaro cactus in the Sonoran desert. We saw this pairing repeated all over the park.
We drove around to the short "nature trail". In places there were "thickets" of prickly pear.
This appears to be a different species of prickly pear. The pads are giant, maybe 16" across.
A nice bench and shelter. There were many rock structures throughout the park built from locally quarried Edwards limestone. These were built by the CCC in the 1930s.
View from along the park road. City of Big Spring. Notice the large building on the right of image, which I believe is a VA hospital. There are a number of neat buildings in Big Spring all built with the same light-colored sandy brick. Built in 30s-40s?
The new truck wanted to do some 4x4 roads but we didn't find any.
Lovely view from the picnic area near the visitor's center. Why no one picnicking on this lovely day?
Shelly layer in the Edwards limestone.
Next we went down the hill to Comanche Trail Municipal Park. There is a spring and a natural pool here. Also a golf course, a frisbee golf course, and a number of other CCC structures:
An impressive limestone amphitheater! Who knew?
Somewhat run-down Boy Scout building from the 1930s.
On the way home, I stopped at a chicken place on US87 in Big Spring. It was ok food, but some of the clientele made me a bit edgy, especially the guy in front of me with the gang tattoos, including a teardrop near his right eye.
In the future I plan to come back and spend more time exploring downtown Big Spring, and more time at the Comanche Trail Municipal Park.