Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Zone Camping => Topic started by: atlwebguy on November 29, 2009, 02:01:07 PM

Title: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: atlwebguy on November 29, 2009, 02:01:07 PM
I'll be camping in Big Bend with my wife between Christmas and New Year's Eve. It's our first trip and we'll be zone camping. Can anyone give me advice for a nice two day trip?

Ideally, we'd like to hike in a loop. On the first day we arrive at about 2 p.m, so we won't have a lot of time to hike before setting up camp. Two to four miles would be good. On the second day, we'd like a hike that's between four and eight miles and find another place to pitch our tents. Then on the third day, we'll hike out.

This is just our ideal plan. If anyone has any ideas for something similar to this, that'd be great!
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: txhiker on November 29, 2009, 05:16:42 PM
Welcome to Big Bend Chat.

You could do Mesa de Anguila http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_mda.htm (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_mda.htm) or Marufo Vega http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_marufovega.htm (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_marufovega.htm) trails, there are plenty more but I wouldn't be able to point them out to you on a map. You can google those 2 and see if they are something that tickles your interest.

If you want a designated campsite in the Chisos you could hike to the south rim. On arrival day..start hiking up Pinnacles and camp somewhere in the Pinnacles campsites. Then on day 2 climb Emory and camp somewhere along the south or Southwest rim. On day 3, you can take Laguna Meadows out.

How come have you chosen zone camping? The first 2 trips are both zone camping and you can pitch a spot anywhere in your zone and they are good 1-2 night trips. You'll be in the desert which is slightly warmer than high in the mountains. Both these trails are not for first time backpackers, so if you are, the chisos might be a better option. Also..let us know what kind of vehicle you have as some nice trails require high clearance and 4x4 at times.

Hope this helps.

David
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: Robert on November 29, 2009, 08:58:02 PM
If you've never been to the park I would recommend hiking in the Chisos. The scenery is outstanding. Also the overnight temperatures are not likely to be as cold as in out in the lower elevations. You could camp your first night at Boulder Meadow or Juniper Flat on the Pinnacles trail and then continue up the trail to the South Rim the next day. I'm not sure what campsites will be available over the holidays but if you can't get a campsite near the rim there are other good sites at Laguna Meadow. I would not recommend Mesa de Anguila or Marufo Vega for first timers to the park.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: badknees on November 29, 2009, 09:08:12 PM
If you've never been to the park I would recommend hiking in the Chisos. The scenery is outstanding. Also the overnight temperatures are not likely to be as cold as in out in the lower elevations. You could camp your first night at Boulder Meadow or Juniper Flat on the Pinnacles trail and then continue up the trail to the South Rim the next day. I'm not sure what campsites will be available over the holidays but if you can't get a campsite near the rim there are other good sites at Laguna Meadow. I would not recommend Mesa de Anguila or Marufo Vega for first timers to the park.

Take Robert's advice.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: Al on November 29, 2009, 09:21:45 PM
The only potential problem is the "between Christmas and New Years" part and campsite availability.  Might force zone camping which rarely involves loops although there are plenty where one returns back to the vehicle via the way in which isn't really a bad thing.

Al
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: badknees on November 29, 2009, 09:35:22 PM
The only potential problem is the "between Christmas and New Years" part and campsite availability.  Might force zone camping which rarely involves loops although there are plenty where one returns back to the vehicle via the way in which isn't really a bad thing.

Al


While the 60 individual sites at the Chisos Basin Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis for most of the year,
26 of these sites may be reserved for dates between November 15 and April 15 by contacting recreation.gov online


Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: atlwebguy on November 29, 2009, 11:11:30 PM
Hey, guys.

Thanks a lot for all the good advice.

The NPS web site sure does seem to discourage first timers from hiking Mesa de Anguila or Marufo Vega. I have done lots of hiking in the Southeastern U.S. and in Alaska. I've hiked in lots of other countries, too, but only once in a desert area (Ecuador, Andes Mountains). We're both in our thirties and in pretty good shape, so I think we'd do okay, but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks.

Txhiker, you were asking why we want to go zone hiking. It's just that we don't like to be around others when we camp. We'd rather be all by our lonesome when we're outdoors. You were also asking about our car. It'll be a 2WD crapmobile rental.

Sounds like the Chisos might be way to go. I will research your suggestions some more and get back with any other questions.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me out.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: Al on November 29, 2009, 11:35:20 PM
clip

Txhiker, you were asking why we want to go zone hiking. It's just that we don't like to be around others when we camp. We'd rather be all by our lonesome when we're outdoors. clip


Ditto.  I love zone camping.

Al

PS It's way too long a drive to be hanging with a bunch of people unless you want to.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: jeffblaylock on November 30, 2009, 10:02:39 AM
Marufo Vega is a great hike. Take the South Fork to a campsite just off the canyon rim, then dayhike to the Rio and return the next day. The North Fork makes it a loop, but it's steep and difficult - I'd stick to the South Fork.

Another great option is Mule Ears/Smoky Creek area.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: mule ears on November 30, 2009, 03:13:01 PM
..Another great option is Mule Ears/Smoky Creek area.

Short loops, on trails, are hard to come by in the park, you might be better off with an in and out like Mule Ears to the spring or just past to the Smoky Creek overlook the first afternoon (3-4 miles), then head north on the Smoky Creek trail as far as you want the second day and then back to the car the third day.

The trouble with the Mesa and Marufo Vega is no water, especially this fall. There is great water at Mule Ears spring and it sounds like water on parts of the Smoky creek trail too, see raptor()'s report below.

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-mountains/water-in-boot-springfresno-right-now-t8676.0.html;msg83666#msg83666 (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-mountains/water-in-boot-springfresno-right-now-t8676.0.html;msg83666#msg83666)
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: catz on November 30, 2009, 03:41:37 PM
I like the Mule Ears Spring/Smoky Creek trail idea myself.
Title: Re: Ideas for a good two-day zone camping trip
Post by: Lorax on December 01, 2009, 09:10:39 AM
Given the week that you have chosen and the fact that you will be requesting a permit at 2 PM a Plan B would be a good idea.  First, nix the Mesa this time.  Plan a route to the South Rim.  Plan B could be a loop around Mule Ears.  You may get your first choice but be ready to implement Plan B.