Hike to the top of the Lost Mines Trail at Big Bend National Park to get this sweeping view. File photo by Chris LeBlanc/special to Austin American Statesman

It takes eight hours to drive to Big Bend National Park from Austin, but for the next five months you can get a glimpse of our first national park without leaving town.

“Journey Into Big Bend,” the newest exhibit at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, features stories, artifacts and photographs of the park and the people who have studied, protected, explored and loved it.

The prickly, cactus-studded expanse of Chihuahuan Desert became a national park in 1944. Walk through its nearly 800,000 acres and you’ll find waterfalls, canyons, rock formations that look like an enormous pair of mule ears, and the occasional javelina or black bear. It’s incredibly diverse, from the desert flatlands to the Rio Grande and up into the pine covered Chisos Mountain Basin.

Katie Ryan, in blue, hikes toward Cattail Falls at Big Bend National Park. Photo by Chris LeBlanc, Jan 2015

The exhibit covers it all, from rare casts of fossils of a 65-million-year-old flying reptile and giant crocodile, tools used by the ancient inhabitants, and household items and ranch equipment used by Texans who worked there in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Also included are numerous photographs, including a selection submitted by the public for inclusion in the Texas Through Your Lens project. For more information go here.

The exhibit continues through Sept. 18 in the third-floor Rotunda Gallery at the Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. For more information call (512) 936-8746 or go here.

Pam LeBlanc relaxes at the top of the South Rim at Big Bend National Park. Photo by Chris LeBlanc