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

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Offline PyramidBlaster

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Spring Break
« on: October 26, 2006, 02:08:27 PM »
OK, I know I've mentioned this, but I really need as much and as detailed info as possible...For my little 'project'....I'm looking at being out that way between march 3rd and 17th, 2007...

Just excatly HOW busy is the 'Bend in spring break season...And when IS spring break out that way? (they stagger the weeks out my way in Florida so at least somebody is sober at any given time)....

Anyone else planning a trip there this far out? I've never been there in spring, always the Fall.....

Also...Congratulati ons, Dave and Sarah! I'm so glad you guys have found each other...Love ain't as easy to find as one might think. Great photos! What park did you guys get married in? It looks somehow very familiar.... :wink:  

If my wife and I had it to do over again, we'd probably have gone that route ourselves....Kudos!
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."-H.P. Lovecraft

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Spring Break
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2006, 02:38:58 PM »
It's not Grand Canyon busy, but you can expect all the campgrounds and backcountry campsites to be full some or all of the time. Some sites at the Basin and Rio Grande Village campgrounds are reservable -- all backcountry sites (except the group ones) are reservable only in person, which makes timing your arrival important. Most schools in Texas are on spring break the second week of March. It happens to be a great time for snowbirds and birders as well.

That said, I've been there three times during spring break and haven't had much trouble finding places to stay. Your itinerary needs to be flexible, in case what you want isn't available on the day, or in the order, you want it.

Zone camping is a great way to get away from the "crowds" since you can establish a campsite pretty much anywhere in the desert. The rangers can give you all the details about how far away from water sources, protected sites, roads, trails, etc.

If you're planning on being there the weekend of March 8-10, I'd try to get there as early as possible (preferrably the 7th or 6th) and get into that backcountry permit office as soon as you can. I think it opens at 8 a.m. It's a great time to be out there, especially if the winter is a wet one. You might get to see the bluebonnets in their peak:

Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline PyramidBlaster

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Spring Break
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2006, 03:01:16 PM »
Wow, Jeff...That's pretty much as concise a reply as I could have hoped for. of course, if anyone else (Ahem...Ahem...Park staff...) has any detailed info they'd like to relate, far be it from me to complain....

Unfortunately, I'm kind of locked in to the week of March 10-17, because one of the gracious souls who's helping with my little project is going after his belated engineering degree.....But Since i'll probably be staying out on the River or Old Ore roads, I'm hoping I'll have a better crack at campsites.

All in all, I guess when it come down to it, I'm just concerned with how many gawking frat boys and snowbirds will be 'screwing up my shot'......

Are hotel rooms in, say, Fort Stockton usually booked up?
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."-H.P. Lovecraft

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Offline Casa Grande

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Spring Break
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2006, 03:17:18 PM »
I can echo everything Jeff just said....and I wish I could echo that fabulous pic too!  =D>

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Offline PyramidBlaster

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Spring Break
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2006, 03:18:52 PM »
Yes indeed...Although I can't compare with Jeff's photos, either, I really do need to post some of mine....Then there's the video.....
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."-H.P. Lovecraft

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Spring Break
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2006, 03:33:45 PM »
Quote from: "P-Blaster"
Are hotel rooms in, say, Fort Stockton usually booked up?


Not usually. Fort Stock is a place where people get off the highway to sleep because it's a long way to either El Paso (heading west) or anywhere (heading east). The cheaper places -- Motel 6, Super 8 -- fill up first, natch, but I've never had a problem finding something there.

If you leave Fort Stock by 5:45am, you'll be in Panther Junction by 8.

And then on the River Road by 9 with permits in hand, west:



Or east:

Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Joe

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rooms
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2006, 03:34:38 PM »
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
Are hotel rooms in, say, Fort Stockton usually booked up?


Why stay so far from the park?

If you don't want to camp and know exactly when you're going to be in the area, try for a room at the Chisos Mountains Lodge (expect to pay close to $100/night, and it's probably already booked up), or make reservations now at one of the places in the Terlingua/Study Butte area.
The real desert is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance and understanding. - Randall Henderson

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/el-saloacuten/joe-a-memorial/

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Offline RichardM

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Re: rooms
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2006, 05:33:24 PM »
Quote from: "Joe"
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
Are hotel rooms in, say, Fort Stockton usually booked up?

Why stay so far from the park?

If you don't want to camp and know exactly when you're going to be in the area, try for a room at the Chisos Mountains Lodge (expect to pay close to $100/night, and it's probably already booked up), or make reservations now at one of the places in the Terlingua/Study Butte area.

There's also Marathon, which is a bit closer than Fort Stockton.

With the Chisos Mtns Lodge, check with them for cancellations as your trip approaches.  As with most National Park lodging, just beacused they're booked solid doesn't mean they'll stay that way.  Be advised that their website interface has been having problems, so it's better to call them directly at 432-477-2291.

Big Bend isn't really a frat party destination.  It gets a lot more of college kids looking to escape the typical spring break crowds.  Doesn't mean they can't get rowdy, but it's not going to be anything like South Padre.

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Offline PyramidBlaster

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Spring Break
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2006, 05:56:34 PM »
Nah, I usually stay at the Hampton or days inn before and after a prolonged stay in the bend to re-acquaint myself with humanity.......Usua lly get there too late to push on to the park...or after a LONG day leaving BBNP....
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."-H.P. Lovecraft

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SHANEA

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BBRSP
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2006, 07:00:43 PM »
Want to get away from the crowds @ BIBE during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break?  Want truely desolute surroundings.  Virtually no infrastructure.   Want to have someone cook you a prepared dinner of your choice - enchalades, CFS, what ever - by pre arrangement only.    If there is not a burn ban in place and you carry your own wood and firepan, you can have a nighttime camp fire.  Lots of roads to drive, lots of day hikes to do, lots of things  to explore and see.

Let me introduce you to the Crown Jewel of the Texas Park and Wildlife System.
BBRSP - http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/big_bend_ranch/

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Offline 01ACRViper

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Re: BBRSP
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2006, 07:15:53 PM »
Quote from: "SHANEA"
Want to get away from the crowds @ BIBE during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break?  Want truely desolute surroundings.  Virtually no infrastructure.   Want to have someone cook you a prepared dinner of your choice - enchalades, CFS, what ever - be pre arrangement only.    If there is not a burn ban in place and you carry your own wood and firepan, you can have a nighttime camp fire.  Lots of roads to drive, lots of day hikes to do, lots of things  to explore and see.

Let me introduce you to the Crown Jewel of the Texas Park and Wildlife System.
BBRSP - http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/big_bend_ranch/


i second that, great place  8)

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Offline Al

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Spring Break
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2006, 08:19:33 PM »
That's where we went last year during Christmas/New Years.  We saw three cars the whole time.  It was very nice. The hiking is not as varied and interesting as some of the hikes in the national park but there is plenty of walking to be done.

One thing concerned us.  Although the primitive campsites are remote they are not designated like Big Bend National Park where you reserve PC 1 or 2, and it's yours.  There is a people limit per campsite, but not on the number of camping groups.  You could, theoretically, be stuck with a couple of other camping groups that you don't really want to know.  I doubt it is a common problem but it could happen.

Al

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Offline okiehiker

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Rooms... etc.
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2006, 08:26:43 PM »
You can also gets rooms at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, half the distance of Ft. Stockton.  The historic hotel rooms (bath down the hall) are around $60.  The newer rooms can run $100 to $200 per night.

The Marathon Motel is more reasonably priced overall and is just half a mile west of the Gage in the huge metroplex of Marathon.

Also Russ Tidwell has purchased and renovated a number of old adobe houses in Marathon.  You can rent a house for less than most of the rooms at the Gage.  If you have a party of any size and want a full kitchen, etc.  they are very convenient.  I forget the business name he operates under. (Sorry.)

You will be in the peak season for spring break, but all is not lost.  There will be roadside campsites opening up on any given morning.  The advice to get to Panther Junction early is good.  

For true backcountry camping there will be no problem if you go north, east, south or west.  The busy places are the high Chisos, and the foothills immediately south.  It is very rare for other backcountry zones to fill.  

Big Bend Ranch is also a wonderful place any time.

North--Grapevine Hills, Paint Gap Hills, Christmas Mountains, Rough Run/Cottonwood drainage

West--Mesa de Anguila, Tule Spring, Burro Mesa, Terlingua Creek Drainage

South--from Boquillas to Santa Elena Canyon, Mariscal area

East--Santiago Mtns., Dog Canyon/Devils Den, Sierra del Carmen/Caballo Muerto, Tornillo Creek drainage

You can spend a week in any of these areas and see few people even at spring break, Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Funny... I have a story about that...

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SHANEA

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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2006, 08:30:47 PM »
Quote from: "Al"
You could, theoretically, be stuck with a couple of other camping groups that you don't really want to know.  I doubt it is a common problem but it could happen.
Al


True - that is a possibility that has happened one time to my group in many trips out there - and it was more an accident on the front office's part than anything.  Some single camper in a truck camper unit was assigned our spot because he arrived at closing time and we were at Rancho Viejo which is the closest campsite to the locked gate entrance - they give you the combo when you registar.  The person moved on the next day.

There are plenty of campsites out there and some of them are very remote - especially those on the Oso Loop.  

The main thing to remember is that the office near Fort Leaton closes at something like 5pm, so you can not get into the campsites in the interior of the park unless you get registared before 5pm - which is sometimes a problem when driving great distances to get there.  First time we went to BBRSP we actually spent the night in the parking lot at Warnock as we arrived at like 2am in the morning.  Turns out, we needed to go up to Presidio and registar at Fort Leaton.  

If you've never been there, it is certainly worth a visit.  I've only probably been there 10 times or so.  :lol:

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Offline Al

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Spring Break
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2006, 01:39:57 AM »
We camped at Pila Montoya.  The end of the road . . . so to speak.  La Posta may have been a better choice.  

Al

 


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