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.


First Trip to BBRSP - Seeking Winter Camping Advice (and Any Other Suggestions)

  • 26 Replies
  • 3029 Views
*

Offline DVD

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 10
My wife and I are heading to BBRSP during the week between Christmas and New Years. This will be our first trip to the park, and I'm hoping to get some advice from folks who know the area. We'll be in BBRSP for 3 nights.

With the short days, I'm thinking it would be nice to have a single base camp and explore from there. That would save us probably close to 2 hrs of daylight because we wouldn't have to break and set up camp each day. But it's such a big park that I'm sure we'd see more by moving point to point each day. Is the base camp approach workable for 3 days/nights? We're interested in seeing the incredible sights, doing some hiking, and off-road wheeling. Or maybe it would be better to do a base camp for 2 nights and then head to another side of the park for the 3rd night.

Here's the other factor: my wife is a cold wienie, but she enjoys expedition trips more than she hates the cold. All the same, I try to minimize cold weather impacts as much as possible. I couldn't find elevations for the remote campsites at BBRSP, but if some campsites are significantly lower (1000 ft or so), we'd rather stay someplace lower, even if the site might be less picturesque.

Any advice/suggestions appreciated - whether for camping or good hikes/sites. (We're in good hiking shape, but we're not really looking for all-day or even 1/2-day hikes on this camping/exploring trip). I've done some research on this forum for planning, and enjoy the community. If anybody is going to be out there the week after Christmas and happens to be a HAM, let's exchange call signs and get together for a hike or beer around the campfire.

Thanks for the add.

*

Offline dprather

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2122
May I suggest spending all or most nights at the bunkhouse at BBRSP?  Your wife will thank me for this suggestion.

You'll get the full BBRSP experience without tough nights for you wife.  The headquarters where the bunkhouse is located is close to lots of the major day-hiking trails.

 Pack your tent & etc. just in case she wants to try to rough it for a night. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

*

Offline DVD

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 10
That bunkhouse is a cool facility. But we're more interested in the remote experience. We are equipped for and have experience camping in below freezing temps - just one of those "all things being more or less equal" I'd look campsites at lower elevation.

When it's below freezing, my wife won't get out of bed until she has a coffee in front of her. Making the coffee is a small price for a wife who enjoys going on these adventures  :eusa_clap:

I probably should have mentioned that we are equipped for and familiar with these remote trips - previous New Years trips to Death Valley, El Camino del Diablo, Mohave Trail. Now Big Bend is calling!

*

Offline trtlrock

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1249
"all things being more or less equal" I'd look campsites at lower elevation.

I wouldn't worry too much about your camp elevation. It'll be warm during the day, and when the sun goes down all the cooler/cooling air sinks down to the hollows & drainages. Sometimes it's colder down there at night than at higher elevations.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

*

Offline catz

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 986
  • Old enough to know better, but...
To get to most of the campsites you will need high clearance and four wheel drive.  And good tires!  There are one or two sites just off the improved dirt road that leads to the HQ.
Wake me when it's time to go.

*

Offline DVD

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 10
Thanks for the info about elevations, trtlrock.
And thanks also for the vehicle advice, Catz. We should be fine: BFG ATKOs (E-rated) with full-size spare, tire repair kit and onboard compressor. And good HC 4wd vehicle with skid plates, recovery gear, extra gas, HAM, Spot, etc.

Any thoughts about whether the base camp idea is workable at BBRSP? We're not averse to camping in a different spot every night if that's by far the best way to experience the area, but a base camp certainly has advantages.

Here’s a very broad daily plan for the entire trip:

Day 1: Highway travel from AZ to TX. Motel in Alpine, TX, near BBNP.
Day 2: Head into Big Bend National Park via Persimmon Gap entrance -> Old Ore -> River Rd EAST -> Glenn Spring Rd.
Maybe take the rowboat into MX for lunch, hike to Ernst Tinaja
Campsite possibilities: Glenn Spring, Camp Chilicotal, La Clocha Campsite #1, others?
Day 3: Black Gap -> West River Rd. Check out Mariscal Mine and Santa Elena canyon hike time permitting.
Then take West River Rd out.
Enter Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP). Camp at ??
Day 4. BBRSP
Day 5. BBRSP
Day 6. BBRSP to White Sands. Try to get permit for hike-in backcountry campsite at White Sands. Dunes at sunset/sunrise and under almost full moon are supposed to be spectacular. It seems that the requirement to hike 1-2 miles to campsites discourages enough people that we can expect to get a permit. But if not, camp at nearby state park.
Day 7. Highway home.

I usually like to document trips with a Trip Report, and plan to do so for this Big Bend trip. Here's last New Year's Death Valley trip which I'm thinking will be somewhat similar in terms of scale and sights, but hopefully BBRSP will be a bit more remote: http://dirkvandyke.blogspot.com/2017/01/first-death-valley-trip-4-cold-wet.html?view=sidebar

*

Offline trtlrock

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1249
I'd lean strongly towards sticking with one camp & using it as a base. It takes a long time to drive from one camp to another in BBRSP, and that gets really long if you're on any of the roads other than the main artery to Sauceda. Pick a site near Sauceda and you have access to a lot of great day hikes with short drives to the trailhead. Or venture slowly & carefully down into Fresno Creek & camp near Rincon, and you've got tons of great hiking without even firing up the vehicle.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

*

Offline rocketman

  • Off-Grid Space Cadet
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 253
Rincon sites are in a great location just off Fresno Creek. They are, however, difficult to find in the waning hours. You will be driving in and out of Fresno wash/creek bed, and the signage for the trail that goes to Rincon 1&2 is easy to miss when the sun goes behind the canyon wall. I would recommend either Rincon site for a two-night stay since there is a lot of hiking you can do from there.
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

*

Offline Ranger Tim

  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 256
  • Vulpes vulpes
I would call the reservations hotline ASAP as we are already filling up for the holidays, which will severely limit what you can get into,

http://texas.reserveworld.com/Home.aspx

or

(512) 389-8900
"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 BlindWilly

  • Overlander
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 287
    • TXpedition Offroad & Overland
I'll add my 2 cents since that is my favorite time to go to BBRSP.
Base Camping is great depending on A. What's available still (Per Ranger Tim) and B. How much you want to explore.
As I found out last year, the park likes you to check into the Ranger Station every time you move from campsite to campsite.  If you do like we did last year, we started at Tres Papalotes and worked our way west. It's a bit of a pain to backtrack to Sauceda, then head farther west again.  I don't mind the driving that much, but back tracking was sort of a pain.
There are a LOT of fun campsites. Mexicano #2 was pretty. Guale #1 was too, but it was cold and rainy when we arrived, so I didn't get to enjoy it as much.
4x4 trails you'll enjoy:
The Road to Nowhere
The 2 mines near Tres Papalotes (No video, sorry)
Javalin Trail 
Paseo Al Solitario
Fresno Canyon.
"No matter where you go, there you are"
-Buckaroo Bonzai

www.txpedition.com

*

Offline Jonathan Sadow

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 176
Rincon sites are in a great location just off Fresno Creek. They are, however, difficult to find in the waning hours. You will be driving in and out of Fresno wash/creek bed, and the signage for the trail that goes to Rincon 1&2 is easy to miss when the sun goes behind the canyon wall. I would recommend either Rincon site for a two-night stay since there is a lot of hiking you can do from there.

I'll extend rocketman's suggestion with four of my own:

  • Chorro Vista - access to the complex of trails in Chorro Canyon plus Madrid House, Crawford-Smith House, Madrid Falls, Mexicano Falls, even the Fresno Cascades if you want to hike that far.  It's somewhat similar to what's available from the Rincon campsites, only from the west rather than the north.
  • La Mota 1 - access to the complex of trails around Leyva Creek and offers the back way to Cinco Tinajas.
  • Yedra 1 or 2 - access to the complex of trails in Hiedra Canyon and the Leyva Dome.  Yedra 1 is farther from the trailhead but easier to get to.  There's a steep hill with lots of loose rock between Yedra 1 and 2;  however, from your description it sounds like your vehicle could handle it.

One thing that might influence your decision is the timing of your trip.  Ranger Tim has noted the relative crowds that come to the park during the Christmas - New Year interstitial week.  Of the options I present, Yedra 1 and La Mota 1 are relatively easy to get to and will probably be in high demand.  As noted, Yedra 2 is harder to get to but still not that far off the main park road.  By far the hardest one to access is Chorro Vista.  It's at the end of the Madrid Falls road, takes about 1.5 hours to drive to from Sauceda, and requires one to ascend the steep Cuesta de los Mexicanos along the way - all factors which may make it in less demand than the other sites and more likely to be available for the time frame you desire.

*

Offline DVD

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 10
Thanks for all the great suggestions and advice. I couldn't reserve any of my selected sites for all 3 nights, but I have reserved Rincon #2 for 2 nights and Yedra #1 for the other night. I think it will work out fine to camp in 2 spots. It will show us little more of the variety of the area, while still letting us enjoy the base camp for the last 2 nights.

We have Yedra 1 the first night in BBRSP. We'll be coming in from one of the riverside campsites in BBNP that day.
Newbie wrong assumption. I thought we'd head west on 170 from Lajitas and then head north up the middle of BBRSP. When mapping the route, I was surprised to see that the only access from the south is all the way on the west side via Bofecillos trail.
According to my mapping, my mileage for this day will be 135 mi to Yedra 1. A bit more than I like, but I think it should be manageable, given that there will be a fair amount of pavement along 170. Hopefully we'll still have time this day to hike around Santa Elena Canyon and check out the museum at Barton Warnock Entry Station.

If anybody here is going to be out in the park and wants to stop by for a drink around the campfire or go on a hike on the 29th or 30th, let me know.

*

Offline trtlrock

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1249
I've been to Yedra 1 -- nice site, but the drive off the main drag is sloooow. Not to be a buzzkill, but your plan to drive from a BBNP river site to Yedra 1 in a single limited-daylight winter day will leave you with little or no time to do anything except make that drive. Then getting from Y-1 down to Rincon will take probably a couple of hours of slow (i.e. safe) driving. Just fyi, and YMMV of course.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

*

Offline trtlrock

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1249
Actually (refreshing my memory on our night at Yedra-1)...there's not much to see from the site itself, nor much of a view from there. The site is literally right next to the road, although the chances of being bothered by tourists driving by your site are almost comically far-fetched. Go all the way to Y-2 and the world is at your proverbial fingertips. Just my opinion, of course. Also, I could be wrong, but I think you can get your permit at Barton Warnock enroute to the BBRSP interior. You should try to confirm that in advance as it might save you a lot of time.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

*

Offline DVD

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 10
Quote
I think you can get your permit at Barton Warnock enroute to the BBRSP interior. You should try to confirm that in advance as it might save you a lot of time.
Yes, I already confirmed that I can check-in at Barton Warnock on the way in.  That's why I focused on the Yedra campsites, because they are among the first sites when coming in on "Main Rd" from the west.

Unfortunately, Yedra 2 is already reserved, so I grabbed Yedra 1. The reservation process seems to allow swapping sites, so I will probably call a time or 2 over the coming weeks to see if there are any cancellations at other preferred sites. Or if anyone has a "can't miss" alternative, I could swap sites. But I'm not too concerned. As discussed, we won't have a lot of daylight to enjoy the scenery that first day anyhow. And we'll be moving on to Rincon 2 and getting out and about the following days.

 


©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

 2018 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments