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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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Walk-up availability?

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Offline acenewbie

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Walk-up availability?
« on: March 03, 2017, 12:05:07 PM »
Hi all! I am new to this forum but not completely new to Big Bend. Last June I made my first trip to the park with a friend of mine and we stayed in the Chisos Basin.

I am planning on coming back down to Big Bend from DFW next week with two different friends who have never been to the park before. We do not have a reservation for a campsite because everything was booked up so we are hoping to nab a walk-up site when we arrive. Our gameplan is to come in early on Friday, March 10th  to hopefully get a jump on other spring breakers but I am actually quite nervous that nothing will be available when we arrive. I understand that the park's website explains what to do if this is the case.

My question, does anyone here know how busy the campgrounds are right now? And is there a way for us to check before arriving at the park? I would hate to make the 9 hour drive from Dallas to find out we have nowhere to stay. Alas, I think that is our only option but figured maybe I could call someone at the park to get an idea ahead of time. I would LOVE to get a spot in Chisos but I'm not holding my breath.

I keep telling myself, there's got to be a few open campsites, right??  :eusa_pray:

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2017, 12:34:22 PM »
Sometimes you just have to show up and wait for people to leave to nab a camp site in the basin. I'm sure it's pretty full right now, I will actually be in the park later tonight, but Im meeting someone who already has a site in the basin.

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Offline acenewbie

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2017, 01:56:06 PM »
Would love it if you could let me know how it looks when you arrive.  :icon_biggrin: Pretty full I'm sure. I figured that might be an option too - waiting to see who is leaving and then grabbing their spot. We'll see. One of my two friends literally just cancelled after I made my post so hopefully the trip is not in jeopardy.


Sometimes you just have to show up and wait for people to leave to nab a camp site in the basin. I'm sure it's pretty full right now, I will actually be in the park later tonight, but Im meeting someone who already has a site in the basin.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2017, 02:06:34 PM »
Call the Panther Junction Visitor Center, 432-477-1158, or the Chisos Basin VC, 432-477-2264, to get campground status. They should be able to tell if sites or available or when it filled. When you drive up to the Basin,  try to find the campground host as soon as possible. On a busy day he will be out walking among the campsites and will hopefully have a list of what is open or opening up soon. It is even possible to find a spot after the campground has been officially reported as full.

If you do the "drive around looking for someone who is packing up and leaving" trick, be sure and pick up a registration form beforehand. That way you can put your confirmation slip (or whatever they call it) on the post to mark the site as taken, then register at your leisure.

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Offline Desert Beacon

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2017, 08:45:48 PM »
The three front-country campgrounds have been filling up almost every day for the past 2-3 weeks, usually by early afternoon. The Basin is usually the first to fill, Rio Grande Village next and Cottonwood the last. Unfortunately, since Cottonwood is pretty remote, even though there may be a few sites open when you enter the park, it may be full before you arrive.

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Offline acenewbie

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2017, 11:15:24 PM »
Desert Beacon, thanks for the report. If they are filling up by early afternoon then I think arriving around early in the morning would give us a fair shot at securing a walk up site? I guess we will find out on Friday.

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2017, 04:47:55 AM »
The drive between each campground makes this potentially even more maddening. I can't imagine driving an hour from the Basin to RGV just to turn around and drive to Cottonwood.

Good luck.

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Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.

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Offline acenewbie

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2017, 12:25:14 PM »
Jim, I know. This is why I am particularly concerned about our arrival and trying to get a site. I REALLY want to make the trip down but I am worried we will not find a place to stay.

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2017, 01:25:14 PM »
If push comes to shove, check some of the campgrounds outside the park. Also some of the motels have camp spaces. It may not be where you want, but its better than nothing. 

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2017, 05:10:34 PM »
Also there are a few camping options on AirBnB

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Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.

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Offline acenewbie

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2017, 08:25:40 PM »
Seems as though there are options should worse come to worse. My buddy has never been to Big Bend so I want to make sure we get down there for a few days to do some camping and hiking.

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Offline travii99

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Walk-up availability?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2017, 11:22:48 PM »
If there is nothing in the park, Stillwell Ranch just outside of the entrance usually has plenty of room


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Offline mule ears

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2017, 06:46:26 AM »
You can always get a zone camping permit, park on the side of the road and carry your stuff in half mile.  I have seen folks do this during busy times and then the next day get a regular campsite.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline acenewbie

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2017, 04:59:34 PM »
What is zone camping? I think I remember seeing this on the official big bend NPS website but now I can't find it. What would a zone camping permit entail?

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Walk-up availability?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2017, 05:13:41 PM »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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