Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years

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Offline epossible

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Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« on: December 18, 2017, 04:28:45 PM »
Hello everyone! This forum is absolutely incredible...

I grew up in Lubbock and have fond memories of Big Bend as a kid. Moved away and picked up an out of state girlfriend. She's coming with me to Texas for New Years and I really want to show her Big Bend in all its grandeur. I was looking for your recommendation on how to structure a brief (3 days, 2 nights) trip to Big Bend starting around 01/01.

My questions are:

--Backpack or primitive car camp in my jeep and do some day hikes?
--If we did car camp, would we likely need to get a permit a day in advance? Or could we expect to show up day of?
--If backpacking, any top 2 night 3 day recs? We can usually put away 10 miles in a day.

I have this vision that we could car camp and do 2 or 3 awesome day hikes. But it seems like we may burn a day just waiting on a permit in that scenario. Alternatively, we could focus and backpack but maybe see less of the park.

I know it's a short trip for a place like Big Bend, but any thoughts about an approach at this time of year, especially showing off the area to a first timer? We both love to walk so hiking will be a big part of it either way -- just trying to figure out an approach. 

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2017, 06:13:07 PM »
Do you have 3 days on the ground in BiBe or does that include time driving in from wherever?

Christmas/New Years time frame is one of the busiest in the park, but I've never had an issue with getting a site when I've been there during that time frame.  Flexibility is the key.

For a first-time visit, IMHO, I would recommend car camping, as this allows you move about the park and see more of it.  When I took my children (high-schoolers at the time) for their first visit, we camped in a different backcountry site each night, but staying put in one place means you don't have to set up/take down every day.

If I had 3 days on the ground in BiBe, I would hike in the Basin one day (Lost Mines, Windows, or Emory Peak.  South Rim would be a full day), do day hikes along Ross Maxwell the 2nd day, and maybe cross over to Boquillas on the 3rd day.

Others will chime in, I'm certain.  Wherever you go, it will be time well spent.

Welcome home!

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Offline Al

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Re: Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 07:30:04 PM »
Agreed about the importance of flexibility that time or year.  Get a permit as soon as you get there.  I am assuming the first day you will be driving from Lubbock and the last day you will be returning. Worse case should be a night at Rio Grande Village or Cottonwood.  (I recommend Cottonwood over RGV and there a plenty of cool day hikes along Ross Maxwell Rd or you could return north up Old Maverick Rd although there are not quite the day hike choices.)  You would still have a night to primitive camp.  If your vehicle allows it try to get one away from asphalt in order to get a better feel for the remoteness of the park.  There are a ton of day hikes throughout the park and y'all will barely be skimming the surface of the park so it's hard to go wrong.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2017, 10:35:16 AM »
I agree on Jalco on hitting both the mountain and the desert.  Sounds like you're in good shape, I'd do a full day in the Chisos, hiking to the South Rim and at the end of the day have dinner in the Lodge.

Then on day 2, I'd do the desert along Ross Maxwell (I like Chimneys and Santa Elena) and then you can exit the park about evening to see Terlingua and dine at the Starlight. 

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Offline dprather

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Re: Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2017, 04:34:43 PM »
Here are five more ideas.

Driving to the Pine Canyon Trail takes a while, but the 4-total-miles PCT is a great way to introduce folks to the impact of elevation on plant life.  Bonus: the Pine Canyon Pour-off.

Grapevine Hills is very nice, and has the interesting rock formation at the end.

My wife is a recent BiBe convert, and she insists that we do some serious star gazing every time we go.  Two great places; (i) Sotol Vista, and (ii) the front porch of the old house at Hot Springs.  Bring folding chairs and some blankets.

I really like the Red Rocks section of Blue Creek, just uphill from Homer Wilson.  This will give her a sure-enough wild West Texas visual. 

Santa Elana Canyon.

Extra - if you do the Rim Trail, stop for a second to look down Blue Creek.  That is one awesome view.



Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline epossible

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Re: Backpacking or Primitive Car Camping New Years
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2017, 04:53:40 PM »
Everyone -- thank  you so much! I couldn't be more excited to get out there.

We're actually going to be spending another day or two tripping around Marfa/Alpine, so I think we'll basically have 2.5 days and 2 nights on the ground in BIBE (closer to three full days if we can get up early on New Years day  :o). 

Sounds like car camping is the way to go and we could do a great full day hike in mountains, another in desert--and maybe spend that half day on a smaller hike, star gazing, or just cruising. Flexibility's no problem when it comes to the campsite...

Thanks again!!!

 


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