Many people know the Rio Grande as a recreational river—a place for float trips through the canyons of Big Bend; for fishing at Lakes Amistad and Falcon; for archaeological study of ancient pictographs at the river's confluence with the Pecos; or for hiking the river in New Mexico and Colorado. Yet these pleasant interludes on the Rio Grande in its more scenic stretches are only part of its story. The other parts include controversies over water rights and water quality, terrorism threats both real and imagined, and the smuggling of drugs and humans across the international border. In Big River, Rio Grande, acclaimed photographer Laurence Parent teams up with former Texas Parks & Wildlife editor David Baxter to create an expansive portrait of this magnificent river that highlights both its timeless beauty and its current challenges.
Laurence Parent's photographs capture many of the most dramatic and lovely stretches of the Rio Grande from its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico to its headwaters 1,896 miles northwest in Colorado. He includes striking scenes of the canyons and Sierra del Carmen Mountains of the Big Bend in Texas and Mexico, of the Conchos River in Mexico, of the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests in New Mexico, and of the Rio Grande National Forest and San Juan Mountains in Colorado, to mention only a few places. David Baxter tells a contemporary story of the river through the voices of people who are working passionately for its survival—ranchers and other citizen activists, water rights attorneys and water managers, scientists who study endangered fish species, government and law enforcement officials, and river outfitters.