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Help! Please? :)

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Offline CubScoutMom

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Help! Please? :)
« on: November 03, 2013, 03:52:40 PM »
So we want to go camping over Spring Break...  I'm guessing you get that a lot 'round here.   :icon_lol:    But please, I'm in over my head and need some help!

My husband and I aren't completely new to camping though it was car camping and some canoe trips pre-kid.  We have never all gone at the same time or for more than a couple of nights.  We have 3 boys (will be 13, 9 and 5 come March).  I've been car camping through Cub Scouts a fair bit with son #2.  We've recently started bringing son #3.  Son #1 hasn't been camping with us, but seems positive about the trip.  Add to all of this that my husband is not a fan of RVs and doesn't want to be stacked on top of other people, yet he does want to be able to take a shower on occasion.   So...

When I first logged on last night (11-2), there seemed to be quite a few reservable sites available, but then a bit later there was nothing.  What was going on?

If we left Thursday night and got there Friday morning, would that be good enough to get a first-come, first-served site?  Would it be significantly better to get there Thursday morning?

How is the drive from Houston?

Where should we try to get a site?  We just replaced an old Coleman 4P with a Kelty 6P that has a "vestibule."  But I'm thinking of putting the 13 year old boy in the Coleman all by himself.  He's moody.

If we end up at a place with no showers, how far of a drive is it to some showers?

Keeping in mind the ages of my kids, are there hikes we could all go on?  If so, which ones and where do they start?  If you want to go on a hike that doesn't start at your site, what do you do?

Any recommendations for other places for us to go in March, in case this isn't going to work?

And finally, are we just plain crazy?  Because it is starting to feel like that!   :icon_eek:

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Offline badknees

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 04:29:58 PM »
So we want to go camping over Spring Break...  I'm guessing you get that a lot 'round here.   :icon_lol:    But please, I'm in over my head and need some help!

My husband and I aren't completely new to camping though it was car camping and some canoe trips pre-kid.  We have never all gone at the same time or for more than a couple of nights.  We have 3 boys (will be 13, 9 and 5 come March).  I've been car camping through Cub Scouts a fair bit with son #2.  We've recently started bringing son #3.  Son #1 hasn't been camping with us, but seems positive about the trip.  Add to all of this that my husband is not a fan of RVs and doesn't want to be stacked on top of other people, yet he does want to be able to take a shower on occasion.   So...

When I first logged on last night (11-2), there seemed to be quite a few reservable sites available, but then a bit later there was nothing.  What was going on?

The reservables may be full by now. There are a lot of first come sites. Try it again....

If we left Thursday night and got there Friday morning, would that be good enough to get a first-come, first-served site?  Would it be significantly better to get there Thursday morning?

Spring break spans more than 1 week, so depends on which week you're planning. Friday mornings seem to be a departure date, and I have been lucky arriving on Friday's. Bear in mind that the Basin Campgound fills first.

How is the drive from Houston?

Depending on your H location- up to 10 1/2 hours. It is what you make it.

Where should we try to get a site?  We just replaced an old Coleman 4P with a Kelty 6P that has a "vestibule."  But I'm thinking of putting the 13 year old boy in the Coleman all by himself.  He's moody.

All 3 organized campgrounds have pluses and minuses. Check the NP web pages for descriptions. http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm You can always camp at a primitive roadside campsite for a more private adventure. Absolutely no facilities though. - Like dig a hole none.
If we end up at a place with no showers, how far of a drive is it to some showers?

From an organized campground, your best case scenario is 30ish miles one way.

Keeping in mind the ages of my kids, are there hikes we could all go on? Absolutely If so, which ones and where do they start? Some good suggestions so far, I'd add Bouquillas Canyon, Hot Springs, Tuff Canyon and Burro Mesa Pouroff. These are short if the 5 yr old tires out.  If you want to go on a hike that doesn't start at your site, what do you do? Drive to and park.

Any recommendations for other places for us to go in March, in case this isn't going to work?

And finally, are we just plain crazy?  Because it is starting to feel like that!   :icon_eek:

You can do this. You won't regret it.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

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http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline CubScoutMom

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2013, 05:31:11 PM »
Spring break spans more than 1 week, so depends on which week you're planning. Friday mornings seem to be a departure date, and I have been lucky arriving on Friday's. Bear in mind that the Basin Campgound fills first.

I've checked the calendars for several major Texas universities and a lot of ISDs and they are all the same?  I thought they were spread out too, but they don't seem to be. 

Also, why is the Basin Campground so popular? 

Depending on your H location- up to 10 1/2 hours. It is what you make it.

We are NW of Houston, off 290, in Cypress.


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Offline CubScoutMom

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2013, 05:32:58 PM »
You can do this. You won't regret it.

I'm hoping so!  The pictures I have been looking at are amazing!!! 


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Offline Beatrice

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2013, 06:28:30 PM »
People come from all over, well past Texas, to visit Big Bend over Spring Break, which makes for a busy March.

You say your husband doesn't like RVs and doesn't like being stacked on top of each other and you have some car camping experience but not all together. Your children are 5, 8, and 11.

I would recommend for this visit that you plan on camping at the Rio Grande Village (RGV).

There are three campgrounds, many primitive sites, and then backpacking opportunities. During March, they fill up. You'll be packed in at any of the campgrounds. Not like sardines, but not like remote wilderness. The Basin is the campground in the central part of the park and it is cooler up in the mountain, so it serves the needs of many of the people who post to this forum. However, it doesn't have showers and it does have bears and mountain lions. That isn't a great combo for inexperienced kiddos in my opinion. Cottonwood is known for it's quiet and lack of amenities (it doesn't allow any generators, for example) which makes it a favorite of some, but if you're going to be packed in like sardines on one end of the park, I think the end with the toilets and showers is preferable to the one with the port-a-potties.

RGV is near many family-friendly hikes including the nature trail, Boquillas Canyon and the sand slide, the hot springs, and the river road. It has a store, many other kids, toilets and showers. I think for the circumstances, especially over Spring Break, it is a great introduction to Big Bend.

If you can arrive between 4 and 6 in the morning, you shouldn't have a problem getting a campsite as that's when many people start packing up and going home.

This is a totally doable vacation that the whole family will love. Get the kids' passports ordered so you can go over to Boquillas, Mexico and eat some tacos while you're there!

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Offline Desert_Dave

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2013, 06:43:00 PM »
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Also, why is the Basin Campground so popular? 


The Basin campground is popular for many reasons;

Primarily because it is the only campground situated in the higher elevation mountain region of the park.  The Chisos Mountain Basin is often much cooler than other parts of the park especially during the summer.  It is also a close proximity to some of the more popular hikes such as, the Window trail, Lost Mine, Emory Peak/South Rim etc.  Furthermore, it is the closest campground to the lodge (the only restaurant in the park).

Spring break is the busiest time for Big Bend NP, but considering BBNP is one of the least visited parks in the US, there should always be some place to set-up. 

The other two established campgrounds are Cottonwood, and Rio Grande Village, both are situated on the south along the Rio Grande. 

As others have probably mentioned, there are many "primitive" car camping sites along the many unpaved roads in the park.  Lots of good info on this site about the different locations, and in the spring the heat will not be so oppressive as to rule out camping at lower elevations.

As far as a shower,  your options are pretty limited.  You could always try to reserve one night in the lodge (but they book up far in advance).  Or you can always take a "field shower"  AKA: baby-wipes

Edit:  I forgot about the showers at RGV
« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 06:52:51 PM by Desert_Dave »

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Offline CubScoutMom

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2013, 07:27:23 PM »
The Basin... doesn't have showers and it does have bears and mountain lions.  Cottonwood... I think the end with the toilets and showers is preferable to the one with the port-a-potties.

RGV is near many family-friendly hikes including the nature trail, Boquillas Canyon and the sand slide, the hot springs, and the river road. It has a store, many other kids, toilets and showers. I think for the circumstances, especially over Spring Break, it is a great introduction to Big Bend.

All VERY GOOD points!  And exactly what I needed to know.

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If you can arrive between 4 and 6 in the morning, you shouldn't have a problem getting a campsite as that's when many people start packing up and going home.

On Friday?  We could do that fairly easily.  So we head to the RGV first off and do what?  Is there an office?  Will there be a line?  Do we walk around and look for people leaving?  I guess I'm asking, what should I expect upon arrival?

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This is a totally doable vacation that the whole family will love. Get the kids' passports ordered so you can go over to Boquillas, Mexico and eat some tacos while you're there!

I plan to keep checking for a cancellation that I can snag.  I am okay with just showing up without a reservation, but I'm not sure about my husband.  I booked a campsite at Enchanted Rock, just in case.  There were only 4 left and the cancellation penalty is only $5!  I'm just not sure that it would be worth a week long trip.

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Offline CubScoutMom

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2013, 07:37:04 PM »
Desert_Dave, thanks for the info!  I'm thinking most of that sounds like something for a repeat visit when my kids are a bit older and more experienced.  For this trip, I'm wanting to get away from the TV and video games and even baseball.  I want to be outside before it gets crazy hot, go on a couple of reasonable hikes and just hang out with my family.  No schedules!!!

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Offline VivaTerlingua

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2013, 07:55:46 PM »
There's always the option of camping outside of the park.  There are several places around Terlingua that offer camping, here's one example http://www.ranchotopanga.com/index.html.  The downside is, depending on which part of the park you're going to for the day, it's a 30-60 minute drive.  But with a 5 year old I can't imagine you're going to be doing any long hikes, so you should have time for the drive.  There are also a few place to eat around Terlingua if you don't want to cook every night.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2013, 10:03:02 PM »
If you opt for Cottonwood (and the no generator rule is great!), you could make a run to Study Butte after a few days for a shower. Think the place is called Study Butte Motor Inn. If that's not right, some other geezer will correct me. They charge, but not much, and you'll think it's worth triple the money by that time. Then you could drive on down to Terlingua, look around and have supper at the Starlight. The view of Chisos Mtns. from front porch of the Starlight is hard to beat. There are lots of short hikes off Ross Maxwell Drive, the main route to and from Cottonwood.

Geezer

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Offline WayPoint15

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2013, 06:22:43 AM »
Showered at BBMI many times, $2.00.  Take lots of quarters.

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Offline catz

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2013, 11:53:09 AM »
You can also get a shower at the Basin Lodge, provided someone has checked out and before the room has been cleaned and set up for the next guest.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2013, 12:30:06 PM »
You can also get a shower at the Basin Lodge, provided someone has checked out and before the room has been cleaned and set up for the next guest.

I've heard of this many times, but it has always seemed problematic and almost un-workable. To those that have done this I ask, what exactly did you do to accomplish this?.. go to the lodge counter at 7:00-7:30AM and ask if something is available and then just stand around until it is?..or what?  How much $ to do they charge for this? Did this seem like a regular policy or just employees making a little cash on the side? (clue: Do they offer a receipt?) Did you ever head to the room and find the cleaning crew there already or do they set one room aside and service that room only after the morning shower rush is over?
Fort Worth

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2013, 01:13:06 PM »
You can also get a shower at the Basin Lodge, provided someone has checked out and before the room has been cleaned and set up for the next guest.

I've heard of this many times, but it has always seemed problematic and almost un-workable. To those that have done this I ask, what exactly did you do to accomplish this?.. go to the lodge counter at 7:00-7:30AM and ask if something is available and then just stand around until it is?..or what?  How much $ to do they charge for this? Did this seem like a regular policy or just employees making a little cash on the side? (clue: Do they offer a receipt?) Did you ever head to the room and find the cleaning crew there already or do they set one room aside and service that room only after the morning shower rush is over?

I would imagine it's subject to room availability and is a regular policy. Feel free to call and verify (432-477-2291).

About the showers: The $5.65 is for an unlimited amount of time in a room in the Chisos Mountain Lodge. As far as I know, there are no coin-operated showers in the Basin. Basically, they let you have access to a Chisos Mountain Lodge room that another guest has already checked out of, but has not yet been cleaned by housekeeping. As long as you are out my 10 am, you can take however long a shower you want. You just ask at the desk at the lodge and they even give you a towel, soap, and shampoo! I was in heaven. I also made myself and drank some of the free coffee that was still in the room. Because of the drought, however, I did limit myself to take a 10 minute shower.

I figured it was worth $5.65 to take an unlimited shower .5 miles away from my campsite, instead of driving 60 miles round trip to take a $1.50 4-minute cold shower in Rio Grande.

@Don H, they told us at the lodge to come by around 10:00 am, although we went on Sunday around 9:30 and didn't have a problem.  It was $5.63 and they let you use a room where the people had checked out but that the cleaning crew had not been in yet.  They even give you a clean towel to use.

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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Help! Please? :)
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2013, 05:06:37 PM »
I would imagine it's subject to room availability and is a regular policy. Feel free to call and verify (432-477-2291).

No need to call, those posts are enough for me, Thanks Richard! That will certainly save me some time and gas in the future.
Fort Worth

 


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