Big Bend Chat

The Big Bend Chat Archives => Big Bend National Park Q&A => Topic started by: PyramidBlaster on October 26, 2006, 02:08:27 PM

Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster 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!
Title: Spring Break
Post by: jeffblaylock 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:

(http://www.jeffblaylock.com/window/photos/0622.jpg)
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster 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?
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Casa Grande 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>
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster 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.....
Title: Spring Break
Post by: jeffblaylock 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:

(http://www.jeffblaylock.com/window/photos/0260.jpg)

Or east:

(http://www.jeffblaylock.com/window/photos/0004.jpg)
Title: rooms
Post by: Joe 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 (http://foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm?PropertyKey=73) (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 (http://www.visitbigbend.com/maps_study.html) area.
Title: Re: rooms
Post by: RichardM 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 (http://foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm?PropertyKey=73) (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 (http://www.visitbigbend.com/maps_study.html) area.

There's also Marathon (http://www.marathontexas.com/lodging.htm), which is a bit closer than Fort Stockton.

With the Chisos Mtns Lodge (http://www.chisosmountainslodge.com/), 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 (http://foreverlodging.com/contactus.cfm?PropertyKey=73) 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.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster 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....
Title: BBRSP
Post by: SHANEA 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/
Title: Re: BBRSP
Post by: 01ACRViper 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)
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Al 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
Title: Rooms... etc.
Post by: okiehiker 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.
Title: True
Post by: SHANEA 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:
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Al 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
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster on October 30, 2006, 09:19:48 AM
I'll actually probably stay around Mariscal/River Road (Fresno/Glenn Spring) and the Old Ore road, which I could also define as my 'centers'....I'm curious (and also dreading) what Dog Canyon and especially Closed Canyon will be like....It looks like I'll probably be O.K.....But THANK YOU ALL for your info!!!!

Naturally I'll post a huge multimedia trip report upon my return....
Title: Not Bad...
Post by: SHANEA on October 30, 2006, 09:29:47 AM
Virtually no one goes to Dog Canyon or the Persimmon Gap trail.  Why?  It's so close to the entrance that it must not be any good!   :shock:   Actually, both trails/areas are outstanding and are part of the seldom used area of the park.  Why?  "a lot of casual" visitors and even "old timers" head to the basin or other highlights of the park.

Closed Canyon will have a few more folks than normal, but I doubt that it will be "crowded".  It's not on the beaten path and is actually a pretty good drive from BIBE.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster on December 11, 2006, 02:23:17 PM
OK...long story short, since i've had to buy a new car...I don't have to worry about spring break anymore. SO.....How's the first week or two of MAY out in the bend, compared to spring break? Remember...I've only previously been in september-november.......
Title: Cool.
Post by: SHANEA on December 11, 2006, 02:25:51 PM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
buy a new car...


Whatcha get?

Like to hear about folks going out and spending all kinds of money to help stimulate the economy!  This is generally a "rough" time of the year for automakers, very few people buy vehicles for Christmas gifts and few have any extra disposable income for a vehicle right now. Hope you went for the 84 month payment plan - banks and lending institutions really like that :!:
Title: Spring Break
Post by: bdann on December 11, 2006, 02:27:32 PM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
SO.....How's the first week or two of MAY out in the bend, compared to spring break? Remember...I've only previously been in september-november.......


A lot less people and higher temps.  I've been twice in May, both times it was very hot in the lower elevations.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster on December 11, 2006, 02:30:24 PM
Well...I can certainly deal favorably with the less people...Guess I'll have to get used to the higher temps, tho'....I went in early september in '98, and it was pretty damn hot....but not something I couldn't get around with a little prep work....
Title: Re: Rooms... etc.
Post by: Robert on December 11, 2006, 03:58:59 PM
Quote from: "okiehiker"
Also Russ Tidwell has purchased and renovated a number of old adobe houses in Marathon.


Do you know Russ? I met him back in the late 70's in Austin and went along iwth him for some memorable canoe trips along the river. Last time I saw him he took us through a tour of Captain Shepards Inn.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: BigBendHiker on December 11, 2006, 07:29:57 PM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
Well...I can certainly deal favorably with the less people...Guess I'll have to get used to the higher temps, tho'....I went in early september in '98, and it was pretty damn hot....but not something I couldn't get around with a little prep work....


Yep...have been there in September and early June and both times, it was warm in the lower elevations (near the River, etc).



BBH
Title: Spring Break
Post by: rebelusmc65 on December 11, 2006, 10:17:38 PM
the big part this year will be from march 11th -17th and we have been full for that week for about a year now
Title: Spring Break
Post by: The Scorpion on December 11, 2006, 10:37:01 PM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
Well...I can certainly deal favorably with the less people...Guess I'll have to get used to the higher temps, tho'....I went in early september in '98, and it was pretty damn hot....but not something I couldn't get around with a little prep work....


I have been a few times in late April early May and the day time temps in the lower areas were from 107 to 112. But hey, its a dry heat 8)

I will be there this spring break. it will be my first spring trip and with the really nice wet winter they have been having out there I am hoping for some really nice flowers and blooms.

James
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster on December 12, 2006, 05:42:01 AM
Hey, Shanea...Missed that post back there about the car...I bought a Chevy Trailblazer. Nothin'crazy or anything, and if the little Jimmy I had was just a little bigger, I might have spent the ($$$!) money to fix her....But with the new twins and all I needed the extra space....

And no, I didn't go for the 84 mo....tho' I nearly had to go 72! And it's a base model.....!

At least the air blows cold...and there's plenty of room for a nice big Igloo Cooler....I'll need it in May....Or, maybe I should wait until October and try for an old Airstream to pull behind....
Title: Good Call.
Post by: SHANEA on December 12, 2006, 10:27:52 AM
Quote from: "PyramidBlaster"
I bought a Chevy Trailblazer.


Good call.  http://www.chevrolet.com/trailblazer/  Nice looking ride.  

I was  :shock: to learn that a large % of the "high-end" purchases these days of Escalades, etc. are done on the 84 month plan.  

Do you have the "Vortec 5.3L V8 Engine With Active Fuel Management™ Technology" -
Quote
In plain terms, the engine moves from eight cylinders to four cylinders and back again, making it a powerplant that delivers both power and efficiency.


If so, it would be nice to know first hand how you like it.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: PyramidBlaster on December 12, 2006, 01:13:50 PM
Nahh...nothing that luxurious--just a torquey straight-six....So far, I'm really pleased...Not quite as sporty as the 4.3 V6 in the Jimmy, but much better than I thought it would be...But I hear great things about the Active fuel management. I was looking at a base Tahoe, But it was still too rich for my blood....
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Wendy on December 29, 2006, 08:10:59 PM
Quote from: "jamesb"
I will be there this spring break. it will be my first spring trip and with the really nice wet winter they have been having out there I am hoping for some really nice flowers and blooms.

James


What dates?  You've probably mentionted it on another forum and I've just missed it.  We'll be there 3/10 - 3/17 for our annual trip.   I'm hoping for lots of flowers this year too.  Last year it was dry, dry, dry and there was nothing in bloom.  The year before, the wildflowers were absolutely incredible!!!
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Roy on December 29, 2006, 08:54:37 PM
The breakers must've wiped out the flowers :?   Took this last week of Feb. 2005;  I've found that late February is pretty good for flowers, and you don't have to put up with the crowds.

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v633/stexan/dogweed1.jpg)
Title: Spring Break
Post by: trtlrock on December 29, 2006, 10:48:42 PM
Roy -- that is a spectacular pic!  Where is the location?
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Roy on December 30, 2006, 08:35:26 AM
Just north of Exhibit Ridge on the west side of 385.  The whole desert wasn't covered;  this spot was probably close to an acre and lined up nicely with the Chisos.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Bluetex on December 30, 2006, 01:11:12 PM
Great picture Roy!
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Wendy on December 30, 2006, 09:56:01 PM
I'm jealous of that shot, Roy.  We must have just missed the wildflowers last year.  Most of my shots from March 06 look more like this one with no wildflowers at all.  Not that this is all bad, though!  LOL!  With scenery like this, you can't complain!  

(http://lodgeboards.com/v-web/gallery/albums/Wendy/CRW_1416pr.sized.jpg)
Title: Spring Break
Post by: tjavery on January 01, 2007, 05:06:24 PM
All this talk of wildflowers and a wet winter has got me excited! So, how has the rainfall been so far? How is the wildflower bloom lookin' for this upcoming spring break?

I've been prompting my wife for a few months now - "honey, if there's a wet winter - I WILL be going to BB to see the flowers". I hope to not disappoint her  :D
Title: Spring Break
Post by: randell on January 03, 2007, 11:07:14 AM
You and me both.  I already made an itenerary to spend a week in BIBE in the Spring.  My wife thinks I'm crazy because we were just in BBR and Davis Mtns for a week in November.  I just can't think of anywhere better to go in 11 hours of driving from Houston.
Title: Spring Break
Post by: Roy on January 03, 2007, 08:30:01 PM
Quote from: "Wendy"
I'm jealous of that shot, Roy.  We must have just missed the wildflowers last year.  Most of my shots from March 06 look more like this one with no wildflowers at all.  Not that this is all bad, though!  LOL!  With scenery like this, you can't complain!  

(http://lodgeboards.com/v-web/gallery/albums/Wendy/CRW_1416pr.sized.jpg)


Nice shot;  great colors.  One of these days I'm gonna remember to get that polarizer off my lens and put the hood on.  I don't know how many "pretty good" shots I've got with one corner of the sky overexposed.

Hoping to get out there for at least a long weekend in February.
Title: Re: Spring Break
Post by: RichardM on February 16, 2009, 12:42:31 PM
Here's a website with the 2009 Spring Break schedules:
http://www.tripsmarter.com/panamacity/springbreak/sbcalendar.htm (http://www.tripsmarter.com/panamacity/springbreak/sbcalendar.htm)

The big week for Texas is March 14-22.