From Panther Junction, head west on Gano Springs Rd for approximately 22 miles. Turn left onto Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and follow the road for 8.25 miles. Look for a small parking lot on your left. From here you can see the ranch below in the Blue Creek Canyon valley. The short (0.5-mile) Blue Creek Ranch Trail leads down an old road to the ranch.
Photo Spot Details
In its time, Homer Wilson’s ranch was one of the largest ranches in the United States, comprising more than 28,000 acres of land. It was abandoned in 1945. The house is made from material native to the area, including a reed ceiling and walls made of stones from Blue Creek Canyon. This is a wonderful spot for night photography and light painting. Make sure that you hike into the ranch during the daylight to scout out the area and plan your shots. You can come back after sunset to take spectacular photos of the Milky Way over the ranch and Chisos Mountains.
I like to use a wide-angle lens for night shots, but during the day, when you are scouting, bring a macro lens; the house itself is full of interesting details.
Big Bend is the darkest area in the continental US. However, make sure you check what phase the moon is in before you plan your trip. A full, or near full moon is very bright and can drown out the Milky Way. Don’t forget to bring a good flashlight with you. If there is no moon, it will be close to pitch black! Your light can also be used to do some light painting. In the shot above, my husband lit up the inside of the house for about 10s with a flashlight while I took a 30s exposure.