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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Spring Break Trip Planning

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Offline jacobdwoolf

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Spring Break Trip Planning
« on: February 15, 2017, 02:17:55 PM »
Hey all, I'm trying to plan a spring break trip down to Big Bend but have never been before, so looking for some advice. I'm planning for the 15th-19th. We'd like to get in some nice 4x4 trails (F150 4x4 with nice tires), hiking, and backcountry camping.

Our itinerary is pretty flexible as long as we can get in and have a place to camp, so my main question has to do with permits. We wouldn't be opposed to getting there at 8am on the 15th to get a permit to start on the 16th, I know that week of spring break can be pretty crazy, but would this be necessary?

Past that, what roads/sites/trails would you suggest for this ~3 day trip? I've been doing some research and watching some videos and everything looks incredible.

Any and all input is appreciated! Thanks y'all!

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 05:20:42 PM »
Big Bend can and is busy during spring break and fills fast. You can go online to the park and see what  camp sights are open. Also don't forget the state park, Big Bend Ranch as a back up plan.

The national park, most back roads are maintained and shouldn't be an issue in what you drive. But, I would also recommend a plug kit, compressor or and extra spare. The state park has some back roads that could be a challenge. Plan ahead and enjoy.

Sent from flat land


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Offline Txlj

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2017, 05:24:03 PM »
Big Bend can and is busy during spring break and fills fast. You can go online to the park and see what  camp sights are open. Also don't forget the state park, Big Bend Ranch as a back up plan.

The national park, most back roads are maintained and shouldn't be an issue in what you drive. But, I would also recommend a plug kit, compressor or and extra spare. The state park has some back roads that could be a challenge. Plan ahead and enjoy.

Sent from flat land
Also, If you have never been there before there are lots of things to see and do driving the main roads. Between the two parks, Terlingua and the river road to Presidio, there is more than you could ever see in three days.

Sent from flat land


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Offline rocketman

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 06:33:34 PM »
You might consider 2 days in the national park and two days in the state park. The NP offers Old Ore Rd and Black Gap Rd, as well as Juniper Canyon Rd. Each of these has excellent campsites. Short hikes include Ernst Tinaja and Telephone Canyon off Old Ore, Mariscal Mine and Elephant Tusk off Black Gap/Talley Rd, and up into Juniper Canyon and the high Chisos if you're feeling frisky (and in excellent shape). There's also Pine Canyon, the River Rd, and Grapevine Hills. Santa Elena Canyon is a must-see for a first-timer, and the road down there also has many nice short hikes. Obviously this is too much for two days, but you can pick a couple locations and save the rest for next time.

The State Park is much better suited to 4x4 off-road trails. They are numerous and can be challenging. Look up some of Blind Willy's posts for ideas.
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2017, 08:58:49 PM »
East side:
+1 on Mariscal Mines and Elephant Tusk.  Fresno campsite, just in front of the mines, is a particular favorite of mine - exceptional views and you're pretty much guaranteed to be alone.  Black Gap road is the only non-maintained backroad, but, unless it's been raining, I doubt you will engage the 4x4.
Pine Canyon would be a nice drive/hike combo and gives you a taste of the different ecosystems.

West side:
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive - lots of short hikes along the road
Santa Elena Canyon
Mule Ears

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Offline BlindWilly

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 12:43:08 PM »
What is your skill level for offroading?
Your F-150 will be fine in the National Park. Just MAKE SURE you have a spare and a patch kit just in case.  And yes, a compressor to air up after you have been wheeling.
C Rated tires (6 ply) are your best bet for All Terrains.  You said you have good tires, so I'm guessing you'll be fine.
Black Gap Road is the toughest of the roads I've seen in the National Park so far, I haven't hit them all yet.  Only a few butt clenching spots.
Old Ore road is one I haven't been on yet either, but I hear that's a must.  Expect a 4 hour drive on that.

That being said, if you want to avoid the big crowds, you might want to consider the state park. (I'm kind of partial to it, myself)
It's less crowded and has better trails to test your truck.

Hope you have a blast and post up in here about your trip with pictures... we like pictures   :o

(Thanks for the shout out, Rocketman)   :)
"No matter where you go, there you are"
-Buckaroo Bonzai

www.txpedition.com

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 05:45:35 PM »
If you drive black gap road there are a few tricky spots, one near the Glenn spring 1 camp site, it's pretty narrow and muddy, you will need 4x4 in that very short section. If you go east to west, you will have a dirt wall on your left and thick bushes/trees on your right. It's rutted pretty good, but passable. Next is the pinch which is a few miles in. It's a big step to climb up and need 4x4. After that it's really not bad, you may need 4x4 in a few spots to climb out of a wash only because of lose gravel.
There is a section just past Glenn spring 1 that is interesting, it's like you are on a backbone which drops off on either side and it feels like you only have inches or room on either side.
But black gap road is well worth the drive.

The pinch


Glenn spring 1 area ( west to east)




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Offline jacobdwoolf

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 11:24:30 PM »
Thanks, y'all, for the excellent info! I'm getting together with my group this week to figure out our itinerary, will post back here for a sanity check before we head down. I had looked at this post (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/suggested-itineraries/jeep-camping-itinerary-feasible/) and was thinking about basing my route loosely off of it.

As far as the offroad goes, I don't have a ton of experience but it's not my first time leaving the pavement either. The tires are Nitto Terra Grappler G2s in the "LT" range, which if I'm not mistaken are 10 ply, and I'm really looking forward to putting them to the test. I got em put on in January and haven't had the opportunity to challenge them yet. I've attached some pics I took after installing the new tires, plus a few from before I got the tires and high centered on my differential  :banghead: (a limited slip is high on my list)

I'm hoping to get some footage with my GoPro while I'm down there, which I'll definitely plan to bring back here as well!

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Offline ds9writer

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2017, 08:09:49 AM »
My experience after 3 Spring Break trips is that there are more sites available later in the week than earlier.   First trip we hit the park the first Saturday of SB mid-afternoon, and there were only 4 back country sites left.   Next trip we arrived at Panther Junction at 8am on the Monday of SB and there were many more sites available... and it looked like later that week was even more open... so I think arriving Wednesday the 15th should be ok (hopefully!)
You don't travel to see different things,
You travel to see things differently.

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Offline BlindWilly

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 09:22:57 AM »
Oh yeah, your Terra Grapplers should be fine. (I'd still make sure you have a spare)
You can hit pretty much any road out there  :)
You didn't mention a portable compressor for airing back up, but if you have one, then definitely air down to save your back and smooth out the ride. You'll get better traction too.

I've gotten stuck like you did, and I pretty much try to avoid mud now a days, haha.
"No matter where you go, there you are"
-Buckaroo Bonzai

www.txpedition.com

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Offline jacobdwoolf

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Re: Spring Break Trip Planning
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 09:48:48 AM »
Thanks, ds9writer! That provides some good peace of mind.

As for spares and tools, I still have my old tires/wheels in the bed of my truck, so I'll probably bring one of those for a spare. Riding with 3 34s and 1 32" wouldn't but pleasant, but hey, it'd get me out in a pinch. I'll be bringing that compressor and a patch kit as well.

 


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