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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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Thanksgiving Odds?

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Offline Quatro

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Thanksgiving Odds?
« on: October 19, 2009, 11:39:43 AM »
Most my previous trips have been arranged by my wife who arranged a room in the lodge because she痴 not really an overnight camper.  This Thanksgiving it will be just my 12 yr. old son and I, which gives us a chance for some camping.  We値l be arriving Tuesday night to beat the crowds (I say this in jest).  We値l stay at the Lodge the first night due to a likely late arrival.

Lots of questions I need help with:

1.  What are the odds that I will be able to snag a 1 or 2 night campsite in the Chisos for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?  I plan to be at the ranger station at the opening bell Wednesday.  Would it help at all if I got to the station before closing Tuesday?
Is it completely unrealistic to think that Wednesday is a possibility?

2.  I see that one of the Sierra Club trips have already announced they値l be staying at Boot Springs.  Are they playing the odds like me or are groups able to reserve spots?

3. What are the odds that I値l be able to obtain a backcountry drive-in campsite accessible by low clearance car for the dates I知 not in the Chisos?  And that痴 my wife痴 low clearance car Maverick Rd is fine but not Old Ore Rd.  I知 wondering if I値l likely face being limited to zone camping.

4. If the Chisos doesn稚 work out, I was thinking of Banta Shut-in.  Does it require a permit like the Chisos or is this zone camping?  Will it be just as popular over Thanksgiving?   How many campers will that site accommodate?

Appreciate any help I could get.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline bdann

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2009, 11:49:16 AM »
You won't have any trouble zone camping, that is really all I can say for sure. My one Thanksgiving trip, we were unable to obtain any designated back country campsite (roadside or in the Chisos), this was on a Friday and we were at the desk when it opened.  All three of the campgrounds were full.  Zone camping was the only option, but it is not a bad option at all.  You will need to obtain a permit to zone camp.  You may actually have better luck arriving on Tuesday, hard to say though. 
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Offline tjavery

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2009, 01:30:18 PM »
Yeh, I've been at Thanksgiving too and the whole damn place was booked up.

I'd make plans, backup plans, and backup-backup plans. Be flexible, and if all else fails, then zone camping is your friend. You can almost always get a permit for a zone that you want.

Also, look for Chisos openings a day or two out (i.e. zone camp night one and then get a Chisos site, if one is available, for night two). As far as I know, they will let you get permits for several nights as long as they are consecutive nights, and they can be for different sites/areas (e.g. zone, high Chisos, backcountry drive-up).

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Offline badknees

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2009, 01:38:56 PM »
I have made annual Thanksgiving trips for many years and have found that the Basin Campground is going to be full no later than Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving. The only way to get a site during the week leading up to Thanksgiving is to ride around looking for someone leaving early in the morning and snagging that site as quickly as possible. You can check out the leaving date on the "permit stake" in front of the campsite and find out who is leaving and go ask the campers what time they are leaving so you can be in the right place at the right time.

There is limited number of campsites that are reservable in advance, but at this late date chances of any being available is about zero.

http://www.reserveamerica.com

You may get lucky and get something in RGV, but it is one of the busiest times of the year.

Roadside campsites are also pretty booked up, so don't count on that.

Backcountry permits are issued no ealier than 24 hrs in advance, so if the Sierra Club thinks they are guaranteed Boot Spring campsites, they might get a surprise unless they got some special preferential treament in advance.
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Burn Ban

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2009, 03:30:43 PM »
i guess we were lucky. We went for thanksgiving one year. We arrived thursday morning, were the second ones in line at opening. We used our second choice for two of the nights of back country camp sights, but had our choice of several sites each night. I would say that you can't know anything until you get there. Zone camping if-needed-is a great option, as has been recommended.

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SHANEA

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2009, 11:13:41 PM »
Hope for bitterly cold temperatures and snow/rain/sleet for Tu or Wed- that will empty out the campgrounds.  Then hope the weather clears and it's in the 70's and wonderful  When they find out they can't have a ground fire, they will run for home.  However,

Better option - go to Big Bend Ranch State park.  It's just down the road a fair bit, but you will have he place to yourself.  It's neat, it's wild, it's remote, and if there is not a county burn ban in effect, then you can have ground fires.  Best kept secret in the West Texas Trans Pecos Big Bend Region...  :icon_biggrin:    TPWD "Big Bend Ranch State Park"   :rolling: :rolling: :rolling: :rolling: :rolling: - just having fun...
« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 11:15:14 PM by SHANEA »

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Offline catz

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2009, 10:08:34 AM »
I agree.  But to access many of the camp sites and trailheads high clearance and/or four wheel drive will be needed.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2009, 11:12:18 PM »
Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm still going to hold out hope that I can get a Chisos permit for at least a day.  Maybe I should mention that I'm with the Sierra Club and needing to pick up my Boot Springs permit.

I'm resigned to the fact that I very likely won't get a roadside camping permit, especially since I'm limited by low clearance.  The primary back-up right now is Banta Shut-in.  And I'll be researching zone camping alternatives.

I'd thought about setting up a camp in the eastern most portion of W07 in hopes of making a dayhike east into that forbidden canyon.  Judging from BurnBan and Vista Grande's trip report from last Dec./ Jan., that might be a little more than a single hiker with a 12 year old might want to bite off.  It sure is tempting though.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline badknees

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2009, 11:30:03 PM »
Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm still going to hold out hope that I can get a Chisos permit for at least a day.  Maybe I should mention that I'm with the Sierra Club and needing to pick up my Boot Springs permit.

I'm resigned to the fact that I very likely won't get a roadside camping permit, especially since I'm limited by low clearance.  The primary back-up right now is Banta Shut-in.  And I'll be researching zone camping alternatives.

I'd thought about setting up a camp in the eastern most portion of W07 in hopes of making a dayhike east into that forbidden canyon.  Judging from BurnBan and Vista Grande's trip report from last Dec./ Jan., that might be a little more than a single hiker with a 12 year old might want to bite off.  It sure is tempting though.

Banta is zone camping and there are about 3 ways in. 1. From K-Bar, 2. From the Old Ore Rd, and 3. From Tornillo Creek crossing @ 385/Persimmon Gap Rd.

K-Bar is accessible for low clearance, Old Ore Rd is not. The hike in from Tornillo Creek crossing is about 9 miles one way. Either way Banta is not close to any drive up sites.

If you set up camp in W07, make sure you heed this;

 "Within the designated backcountry camping areas, the following areas are closed to camping:
 Burro Mesa above 3400 feet elevation (Tule Mountain 7.5 minute USGS quadrangle)"

Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2009, 08:35:47 AM »
... We値l be arriving Tuesday night to beat the crowds (I say this in jest).  We値l stay at the Lodge the first night due to a likely late arrival.

Lots of questions I need help with:

1.  What are the odds that I will be able to snag a 1 or 2 night campsite in the Chisos for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?  I plan to be at the ranger station at the opening bell Wednesday.  Would it help at all if I got to the station before closing Tuesday?
Is it completely unrealistic to think that Wednesday is a possibility?

2.  I see that one of the Sierra Club trips have already announced they値l be staying at Boot Springs.  Are they playing the odds like me or are groups able to reserve spots?

3. What are the odds that I値l be able to obtain a backcountry drive-in campsite accessible by low clearance car for the dates I知 not in the Chisos?  And that痴 my wife痴 low clearance car Maverick Rd is fine but not Old Ore Rd.  I知 wondering if I値l likely face being limited to zone camping.

4. If the Chisos doesn稚 work out, I was thinking of Banta Shut-in.  Does it require a permit like the Chisos or is this zone camping?  Will it be just as popular over Thanksgiving?   How many campers will that site accommodate?

Appreciate any help I could get.


If you are arriving on Tuesday night, try and get there before PJ closes at 6:00. You should be well in advance of the majority of the crowds. I would think you can get just about any site you want in the Chisos and backcountry road sites that early. If you can't get there Tues. evening then be the first in line Wed. morning. Most folks will be arriving in the park on Wed. afternoon/evening and Thursday so you should be OK. Get your Chisos permit first (you can only get backpacking permits 24 hours in advance) and then get your other backcountry road sites for later.

I don't think anyone can reserve back country sites in advance, even the Sierra Club. You probably just want to pass through Boot Springs on the way to the Rim anyway, let them have those sites.

Info on permits here http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_permits.htm
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Burn Ban

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2009, 09:12:25 PM »

I'd thought about setting up a camp in the eastern most portion of W07 in hopes of making a dayhike east into that forbidden canyon.  Judging from BurnBan and Vista Grande's trip report from last Dec./ Jan., that might be a little more than a single hiker with a 12 year old might want to bite off.  It sure is tempting though.

camping in that zone and hiking into the canyon from the north would be very little problem. that's what i plan to do the next time i go in there. i say "go for that"

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Offline badknees

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2009, 11:46:01 PM »

I'd thought about setting up a camp in the eastern most portion of W07 in hopes of making a dayhike east into that forbidden canyon.  Judging from BurnBan and Vista Grande's trip report from last Dec./ Jan., that might be a little more than a single hiker with a 12 year old might want to bite off.  It sure is tempting though.

camping in that zone and hiking into the canyon from the north would be very little problem. that's what i plan to do the next time i go in there. i say "go for that"

I agree that the attack from the north is the best way to go. Been there from the east and it is a long dayhike cause you can't camp above the canyon.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Thanksgiving Odds?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2009, 08:34:20 AM »
I would consider doing this:
1- arrive at Park, obtain permit for high Chisos but expect that it will be for the following night not the day you get there.  Don't expect much choice of sites in the High Chisos.
2- plan to zone camp at Banta Shut In the day you arrive.  Access it from K-Bar and follow the cairned trail the ~3-4 hours to Banta.  There will be plenty of water and small lakes at Banta, bring a filter.  It's a great overnight backpack even if you start late in the day, the trail follows Estufa Canyon down to Tornillo Creek and then up the creek to Banta.  Easy to follow downhill, only the branch going up Estufa can be tricky but that's on the way out.
3- if you have enough daylight go all the way through the shut-in and hike further up Tornillo Creek or climb up the NE wall above the shut-in and enjoy the views from the top.

Good Luck and let us know how it works out...  TWWG

 


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