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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Alone in the Big Bend, January

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boerst

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Alone in the Big Bend, January
« on: January 11, 2011, 03:33:01 PM »
Hi,

I will be in the Austin/San Antonio Area next week and now I have the weird idea to go Hiking in the Big Bend National Park, because I hate to be alone in a City, but it's nice to be alone in the nature.

My question is, is it too dangerous to hike alone in the Big Bend? How alone am I on the popular Hikes like Lost Mine Trail? I'm in good physical shape and have hiked quite a lot before, but I'm not well equipped, I don't have a GPS device or very good hiking shoes.

So please tell me, which are the easiest trails? Also: I will have a very cheap rental car, are the roads good enough?

My current plan is to stay 2 days (16th and 17th of Jan), and to do at least the Lost Mine Trail and the Scenic Route.... what else?

Thanks and greetings from Germany!


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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 06:12:16 PM »
Big Bend is pretty empty in January, but there will be people there on the main trails like Lost mine trail. Not many people, you might see no one or up to 10 to 20 people,  Lost mine really does not require good hiking boots as the trail is well worn and kept clear of the nasty rocks.

The Windows trail is another favorite trail, again this one is well worn and you may or may not see people there. if you do im sure it will be less than 20.

The Rio Grand Nature trail is really nice. It starts out in the south East part of the Rio Grand Village camp site.

Santa Elena Canyon is great, but check with the ranger station first as the conditions of crossing the creek bed may be real muddy
 
I have hiked all the more popular easy to get to hikes by myself and so have lots of other people. I would not recommend going way out in the back country by yourself with out a good map or GPS and very sturdy boots.

The park is very large and the speed limit is 45 mph so plan for a lot of drive time between places.

James
everything is better with bacon!!!

http://jamesb.smugmug.com/BigBendNationalPark/

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Offline WL2

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 08:27:52 PM »
Just to clarfy the drive time from Austin, TX to Big Bend is about eight hours.

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 08:37:54 PM »
Sotol Vista's locations are perfect for the limited time you have!  The roads for all of those locations are all paved.  I was just at Santa Elena Canyon the last day of December and the creek was running good, but is crossable at the entrance (there is a trail that takes you up and into the canyon).



"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 08:46:10 PM »
I agree with WL2 that the park is a long way for 2 days, but it may be your only chance to get there so go.

If I had 2 days, I would do the following:

Day 1:   Hike the Lost Mine Trail in the morning.  Drive down to Rio Grande Village in the afternoon. Hike to Boquillas Canyon. Take a swim suit and soak in the Hot Springs.

Day 2:  Drive down Ross Maxwell Highway on the west side of the park.  There are lots of short hikes you can take as you go to Santa Elena Canyon.  I like Cattail Falls, Burro Mesa Pour-off, Top of Burro Mesa Pouroff, walk down to see the Homer Wilson ranch homestead, and Santa Elena Canyon Trail. 

I'd check with the Chisos Mtn Lodge for reservations before you go.

 http://foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm?PropertyKey=73

All the roads I've mentioned are paved, except for a short stretch leading to the Hot Springs.  Nonetheless, any car can make it with no problem. Fill up your gas tank in Fort Stockton since gas in the park is more expensive.

Make sure to take plenty of water no matter what you do.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 08:58:53 PM »
Maybe I drive fast, but I make it from my home in Austin to PJ in about 6.5 hours, but then again I leave around 3am when there is no traffic.  I take I-35 south to 71 west to 290 west to I-10 west to 385 south.
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 10:20:07 PM »
    Just a personal preference but I'd take a can of Bear spray with me if I was you.  I know Black bears "almost never" attack but it gives a person some peace of mind. At least it does with this city-boy. I've seen bears on the trail on two of my last three trips out there including the Lost Mine and Window trails in Oct of 2009 and the Window trail again in Dec. of 2010. All of the encounters were over almost before you knew they were happening . They certainly add excitement to the trip. Still waiting for a mountain lion.
   All the trails mentioned are excellant and well marked. As long as you stay on "developed" trails and not on the primitive ones you won't have any problems following the trails.
  Have fun
         Alan

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boerst

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 03:45:49 AM »
Thanks for all the replies! I think I will do Quantros plan, since it combines most locations Sotol Vista mentioned very nicely. Too bad that I'm missing the Window trail though.

And thanks for the clarification WL2, I didn't have the speed limit in the States in mind, but I think 7 hours or so is also OK. If you have any recommendations for nice stops on the way please tell me. Maybe I will get off the freeway at Del Rio, walk over the border and have a burrito ;).

One more important question: I won't be able to take my tent and the lodge is too expensive, so guess I will sleep in the car. Are there parking lots where I can stay over-night? Or can I sleep in my car on a camping ground?

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Offline leigh

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 05:15:42 AM »
Sleeping in your car is fine at any of the campgrounds, rangers/park staff might object to the parking lots (they need the revenue campgrounds provide,14 dollars per night) You might be able to get a backroad site close to the main road, and if you stay consecutive nights the total is 10 dollars for the whole time, not per night. I stayed in the park a few weeks ago for 5 days that way and it only cost 10. (Used the money I saved to eat at the Basin Lodge and Starlight in Terlingua :)  You will have to check at Panther Junction visitor center for the backroad permits, there are a few that are just off the main road....
You will have a wonderful time!!! It's a magical place, but be careful, it will take a hold of you and you'll  find yourself returning time and again at the expense of all the other places you thought you loved :)

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Offline beckola

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 07:23:47 AM »
January is the best time to go camping in Big Bend, Wish I was goin! Let me know if you need a camping buddy, I'm in San Marcos!

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Offline sleepy

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 07:53:04 AM »
You don't need bear spray and it's a AT LEAST 7 hours from Austin.  Any attempts to make it faster will most probably result in a ticket from the DPS. 
It's never too late to be what you might have been-Geroge Elliot

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 08:00:16 AM »
Be aware also that you will be stopped by Boarder Patrol outside Marathon and asked your citizenship, if you are not a USA citizen you might need to prove you have legal residency etc..  Better bring your passport, Visa, etc.. if your not a legal US Citizen.
TWWG

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Offline sleepy

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 08:42:19 AM »
7 hours if you don't stop to pee.
It's never too late to be what you might have been-Geroge Elliot

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Offline Reece

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2011, 09:30:53 AM »
Unless you just have a "need" to go to Mexico for some bizarre, 3rd world reason, you can get a much better taco on the Texas side.

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SHANEA

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Re: Alone in the Big Bend, January
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2011, 10:28:16 AM »
My group hiked up Emory peak with a lad/student from Germany several years ago.  He was crisscrossing the USA by himself.  He did great.  You will generally find that Texas and people at Big Bend are very friendly and you might get lucky enough to find other solo visitors to share the experience with.   

 


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