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.

+-Calendar for sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please

  • 12 Replies
  • 3385 Views
*

Offline chrisfia

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« on: October 19, 2015, 03:27:17 PM »
Hi All:

I finally have the family talked into a Big Bend vacation over Thanksgiving. We want to get *remote*--like not see someone for miles around and cook a proper campfire Thanksgiving dinner with amazing scenery. I have a few questions and could use some general advice; I'm thinking BBRSP:

* I have a '06 4WD 4Runner with 4-ply Kevlar tires (mild off roaders). Are there any concerns or areas I should stay away from?
* What are some amazing trails and campsites for this adventure?
* Is GPS really necessary?
* What is a good recommended radio?
* In the event that I get stuck/stranded, what are my options?
* What might the weather be like? I've backpacked in snow conditions, but I don't think my family will be up for freezing temps.

The thought is to arrive Wednesday around noon, and drive to the campsite. Spend Thurs cooking and celebrating Thanksgiving, then driving out Friday morning after breakfast. We'll be driving in from Dallas and want to make the most of the trip. I've wanted to do this for years.

--Thanks, Chris

*

Offline catz

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1044
  • Old enough to know better, but...
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2015, 04:06:56 PM »
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year, especially in the National Park.  Probably at the State Park, too, but I doubt it fills up to the extent the National Park does.   You will have a much better chance of getting a site far away from anybody at the State Park.   The only sites in the National Park that have grills (or tables) are in the three formal campgrounds (the Basin; Cottonwood; and Rio Grande Village).   By definition, formal campgrounds have lots of other people around, especially at that time of year.  All the other sites in the National Park are primitive, indeed:  no tables, no grills, no nothing--just a cleared off space in the dirt for your car and tent(s).  In the State Park, on the other hand, nearly all sites have both a grill and a table.  Sate Park sites are also much more widely spaced than many of the National Park sites.

That said, the roads in the State Park (other than the main entrance road) are very rough.   There's a reason the park advises you to bring two spare tires.  Your vehicle would work just fine on almost any road in the National Park.  If you get stranded in either park, the best bet is to wait for someone else to come by.  Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.   A satellite phone is a possibility--cell phone service is spotty, at best, in both parks.  Always carry extra food and plenty of water--more than you think you could possibly need.

Weather conditions are likely to be cool-to-cold nights/early mornings and fine days.  Wind is always a wild card.  Light snow is possible but highly unlikely.   

Unless you plan on heading out hiking across open country (not recommended), you won't need GPS.  The trails in the National Park are almost all clearly delineated, easy to follow, and with signs at all junctions.   State Park trails are also pretty easy to follow, for the most part, but as I say, that park is much rougher.  Depending on the trail, it could be quite some time before someone else happens by, especially in the State Park.

Give us some more info as to your family's hiking experience.  Are you looking to just day hike or do you have a backpack in mind?  If a backpack, for how many nights?
Wake me when it's time to go.

*

Offline chrisfia

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2015, 04:25:13 PM »
Thanks Catz!

We don't plan to backpack. Really just an overland trip. We'll probably stay a couple nights.

Sounds like I'm not the only one with the Thanksgiving idea. Would I need to make a reservation? Or is that even possible?

Also, will the park ranger know which primitive campsites are available? Or do you just drive around until you find something you like?

Sorry for all the questions. I backpacked a ton as a kid--sometimes as many as ten nights. And I'd like to slowly get the family into camping.

--Thanks, Chris

*

Online Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4112
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2015, 06:23:24 PM »
I doubt you will have any problem getting to camp where you want at the state park. We have been in the park between Christmas and New Years several times, which is another "busy" time of year, and were  the only folks camping in the back country.  I would call the ranger station and chat with them.  The state park is well known for its mountain biking trails and you can have camp fires, etc.  Although there is some neat stuff to look at and day hikes, it is in general not as dramatic geologically as the national park but It is well worth the trip.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 09:04:00 AM by Al »

*

Offline Geezer

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 668
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2015, 08:44:09 PM »
"cook a proper campfire Thanksgiving dinner"    Not sure it's been made crystal clear: You cannot have a campfire on the ground anywhere in the National Park. Think there are fire rings on ground at some State Park campsites.

You need to be completely clear what rules are before you start a non-propane fire in BBNP. See: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/big-bend-backcountry-camping/rules-on-campfirescooking-fires/msg127844/#msg127844   Look on NPS BB site for rules. Look on this site for interpretation.

I'm not an expert on this issue.

Geezer


*

Offline chrisfia

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2015, 08:53:44 PM »
I plan to call to park rangers tomorrow for sure to clarify. I may have just misread:

http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/parkinfo/rules_and_regulations/#5c

I can make a feast with charcoal if that's all that's allowed. Now a small camp stove...that's a taller order  :icon_smile:

--thanks, Chris

*

Online Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4112
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2015, 09:03:28 AM »
Charcoal is not a problem in either the state or national park so long as it is in a grill.  The national park does prohibit ground fires as well as wood fires.  Also you might want to ask the state park rangers if they are going to have their annual Thanksgiving supper open to campers.  Historically they have prepared quite a spread.

*

Offline chrisfia

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2015, 09:36:09 AM »
Thanks for all your help and guidance guys. One final question: is the two spare minimum really necessary or is it more peace of mind?

--Thanks, Chris

*

Online Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4112
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2015, 09:43:27 AM »
The roads in the state park are constructed on igneous rock which can be hard on tires.  If you take it slow you should be alright with one spare.  Having said that, I have a friend who had two flats while in the park but the tires were pretty worn out to start with.  I would bring a spare, a compressor, tire plugs and fix-a-flat just in case.

*

Offline catz

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1044
  • Old enough to know better, but...
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2015, 10:15:35 AM »
You can reserve a site at the National Park but only in one of the major campgrounds (and maybe only in one of those--the Basin).  "Primitive" sites are all first come, first served.  The rangers should know which ones are available when you arrive. 

As stated earlier, no ground fires anywhere in the National Park.  And since the primitive sites don't have grills, the only fire you can have is with a camping stove.  The campgrounds, though, all have grills.

If you really want to be "miles from anybody" and you want a ground fire, the State Park is about your only option.  Although a few of the "primitive" sites in the National Park are relatively isolated, most of them are located off of one of the main roads (whether paved or not) and, typically, there will be two or three or four sites located relatively close to each other.  Maybe not within sight of each other but still pretty close.  Most do have great views of the Chisos.
Wake me when it's time to go.

*

Offline Ranger Tim

  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 385
  • Vulpes vulpes
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2015, 10:48:20 AM »
Drop us a line at Sauceda (432-358-4444) or the Barton Warnock Visitor Center (432-424-3327) and we can fill you in on all the details and help you line out a great vacation on the "other side of nowhere".  You can find a lot of good information on our websites, but there is a lot of additional information that you will need to plan your trip if you have never been here before.

http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch
http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/barton-warnock

For the rest of you folks, I have not yet heard anything about our annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Sauceda, but I will make sure and post it publicly to this forum when I do!
"The greatest happiness possible to man ... is to become civilized, to know the pageant of the past, to love the beautiful,... and then, retaining animal instincts and appetites, to live in the wilderness"
- J. Frank Dobie

*

Offline chrisfia

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 5
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2015, 01:02:53 PM »
Guys - this has been incredibly helpful. Thank you kindly.

--Chris

*

Offline AggieOO

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 118
Re: First time at BBNP or BBRSP - Advice Please
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2015, 08:22:51 AM »
Stillwell has fire rings at the primitive sites, but is not actually in the NP and is a long drive from the SP.  However, it is an option if campgrounds are full.

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments