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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First time Big Benders seeking backcountry camping advice

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Offline chepra3

  • Kangaroo Rat
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First time Big Benders seeking backcountry camping advice
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:38:31 PM »
Hi all!!

My fiancee and I are planning to camp for 4 days at Big Bend over Christmas in the back country.  Although we are experienced hikers and backpackers in rainforests, mountains and prairies, this will be our first time in this habitat and in Western Texas (we're currently living in Houston). We are seeking any advice on the area, and things we must check out while we're there.

Anything we need to think about outside normal backcountry hiking gear? What's the weather like during Christmas time? Any cool wildlife, plants, natural phenomena we should be on the lookout for at this time?
What places should we check out in the backcountry on a short trip like this?
What hikes do you recommend? We'd like to check out any of the main attractions, but would like long hikes for 2 of the days.  We're probably just talking about day hikes, but possibly an overnight hike.

I'm sure I'll get a lot of information checking out previous posts on this board, but just thought I'd ask for some advice and suggestions before planning.



Offline The Scorpion

  • Mountain Lion
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  • 1987
    • My Big Bend Photos
Re: First time Big Benders seeking backcountry camping advice
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 08:58:18 PM »
the temps will be cold around Christmas, count on low 30's to mid 20's overnight and warm during the day.

for 4 days its gonna be hard to plan to see a lot stuff, but there is plenty to do. if you have a vehicle with good ground clearance, that opens you up to a whole lot more to do. Glenn Spring # 2 back country site is a nice one to stay at that has some other neat things to do. its a nice car camping spot right off the Glenn spring back road and is real open for awesome views. the Mariscal mine is not far away and is cool to explore around at.

I have a Chevy trailblazer and make it back there with out any issues. But always ask about the road conditions and make sure it has not rained out there recently.

Big Bend does have plenty of wild life, but it can be hard to spot, especially in the colder months. But depending on where you are at you could see a mountain lion or a bear, but chances are slim.

have a look at the park map and read some of the trip reports to see if anything catches your eye.

everything is better with bacon!!!


Offline Geezer

  • Black Bear
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Re: First time Big Benders seeking backcountry camping advice
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 09:40:01 PM »
One thing to think about it that December in BB is the dry season in a desert. Rainfall is practically non-existent at that time of year, which opens up the possibility of sleeping under the stars. Big Bend has the least light pollution of any NP in the lower 48. With no clouds to speak of, the stars are a major part of the scenery. Take a tarp, but mainly for shelter from the sun if you get stuck in the open. No need to put it up unless weather turns really threatening. Eat supper, then crawl in and lie on your back. See what the first Americans saw. Stay awake for a few minutes and you'll see some falling stars. Don't worry about critters approaching your bedroll, they won't do it, unless you are in the Basin, where a tame skunk makes the rounds nightly.



Offline dprather

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: First time Big Benders seeking backcountry camping advice
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 08:51:58 PM »
Greetings.  I, too, live in the Houston area.  My backpacking amigo lives over near Beaumont.  We can identify fully with "rain forest"   backpacking in East Texas.

Since beginning our love affair with BIBE backpacking, we have become obsessed with water.  We have reached such a point that even when we do a spring-filled trip into the Ouachitas, we stuff water into our packs.  We do not grieve this because we need this kind of obsession when we are out in BIBE.

You will need that obsession also.  They are not kidding when they talk about a gallon per day per person.

We typically go in Decembers and we have had really hot weather, really blizzard weather, and in-between weather.  The long-term forecasts have usually been accurate.  You'll need to check those out.

As compared to the humidity of East Texas, BIBE is bone dry and bone drying.  You'll feel yourself drying out.  You'll be glad you brought chap stick and sun screen.   

Don't miss the Lost Mine Trail, and don't miss the Rim.  Emory Peak is special. 

It's not a day hike by any means, but the Outer Mountain Loop (modified to include the Rim) is a really nice introduction (if you are as experienced as you suggest).

You are going to have a great time!
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.



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