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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Backpacking Trip!

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peramoure (as guest)

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Backpacking Trip!
« on: January 07, 2008, 05:08:33 PM »
Hola.

Planning a trip out to Big Bend to do a backpacking trip sometime in March.  I just finished doing a backpacking venture to the Grand Canyon for a week in October, so I am interested in spending as much time in the Chisos mountains as possible! I'm not familiar with Big Bend at all so I'd appreciate any suggestions.  We live in Dallas so are expecting a week trip (like this)

1 day trip out there
3 days at big bend
1 day up to Carsbad
1-2 days at the Caverns
1 day back to Dallas

Any suggestions?  The mountains looks gorgeous.  Can't wait to venture out there.

Regards,

David
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 02:23:26 PM by RichardM »

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Offline JodyH

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2008, 06:27:24 PM »
1 day trip out there
3 days at big bend
1 day up to Carsbad
1-2 days at the Caverns

1 day back to Dallas
Spend 1 day visiting the Caverns then a day at Guadalupe Mtns. Nat'l Park.
You might call the Caverns and ask if there is a off trail tour of "Spider Cave" or "Hall of the White Giant" scheduled for the day you'll be there. Both of those are worth staying for.

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2008, 08:36:27 PM »
You should stop at Balmorhea Springs State Park on the way to Carlsbad - it's a good overnight stop (cabins) and has a very large natural spring-feed pool.   It's about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way between BBNP and Carlsbad... TWWG

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2008, 09:28:05 AM »
Definitely spend some time at Guadalupe Mountains, and avoid White City -- the tourist trap which threw itself up adjacent to Carlsbad Caverns -- as it is a dump.

In the Guadalupes, there is a short loop trail to Smith and Manzanita Springs, which is a good little leg-stretcher after a long car ride. If you have more time, you can hike into McKittrick Canyon on the park's east side (toward Carlsbad) and check out a desert stream. McKittrick is a half-day or so hike.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline peramoure

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2008, 11:21:31 AM »
Hey there..  This is the same person with a real username.

  Appreciate all of the advice.  I called Big Bend this morning to make reservations - and lo and behold - they're booked solid.  Now from what I've read the back-country sites are all able to be reserved 24 hours in advance, in person?  This is going to be a spring break trip.  If I drive from Dallas to Big Bend over night and arrive around 7am on Friday, what would you say the likely hood of getting a backcountry permit would be?  Sorry for the lack of detail before.  Leeeet me know. :-)

David

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2008, 11:32:24 AM »
The key is flexibility, as some sites will not be reserved the day you arrive, but may be reserved the next day. I'd get in line early if it's spring break. The "permit zoo," as the rangers call it, is much busier than in other times of the year (when you walk up to the desk and ask for a permit).

Also, remember there are first-come, first-serve sites in the established campgrounds (Rio Grande Village, the Basin, and Cottonwood), so the trick there is to see who is leaving and become fast friends with them so you can take over the site when they pull out.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Roy

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2008, 11:36:08 AM »
Spring Break is the busiest time of the year;  I'd get there early (and have a back up plan).
The park also has drive in back country sites that you can use as a base, but none in the mountains.  The mountain trails will also be busy, maybe consider some desert hiking.

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Offline xseption

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2008, 01:42:44 PM »
Spring Break is the busiest time of the year;  I'd get there early (and have a back up plan).
The park also has drive in back country sites that you can use as a base, but none in the mountains.  The mountain trails will also be busy, maybe consider some desert hiking.

If you do consider desert hiking, then you might be interested in ZONE camping which is more likely to be available.

~ edd
Be the kind of person that you will want to meet!

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Offline deadlizard

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2008, 04:03:24 PM »
Not sure how Carlsbad is currently handling permits.  The last time there we got permits for at least two additional caves.  They were well worth doing.  Slaughter cave was one.  For that one, when you pickup the permits, the rangers explain where to park and how to meet the tour ranger.  Once assembled, the NPS guide unlocks the gate and the half-day exploration is on.  Seems like Slaughter was about 10 miles from the main complex and we had roughly 8 people on the tour. 
 
Personally, I could do 2-3 days of that type of stuff, and I'm not a caver.  Lower Cave is also a good additional permit and can be done on the same day as the main cave.  We found time wise, it was difficult to do more than one outside-the-complex cave per day.

Ranger overseeing knotted rope descent into Lower Cave:


In one of the permitted caves:


The approach hike to Slaughter Cave:

Gene

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Offline STARLITDARKNESS3

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2008, 04:42:16 PM »
Hey there..  This is the same person with a real username.

  Appreciate all of the advice.  I called Big Bend this morning to make reservations - and lo and behold - they're booked solid.  Now from what I've read the back-country sites are all able to be reserved 24 hours in advance, in person?  This is going to be a spring break trip.  If I drive from Dallas to Big Bend over night and arrive around 7am on Friday, what would you say the likely hood of getting a backcountry permit would be?  Sorry for the lack of detail before.  Leeeet me know. :-)

David

From what I have seen, if you arrive Friday early, you should have really good luch getting backcountry sites.  Most of the crowd arrives late Friday or early Saturday.  You may even find someone leaving or an empty camping spot in the Basin.
"Are we there yet?"  ... by my Kids

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Offline toejam

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Re: Backpacking Trip!
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2008, 07:01:25 AM »
Consider Big Bend Ranch SP as a backup plan.

 


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