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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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Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions

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Offline jamesrg

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Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« on: November 28, 2019, 03:39:40 PM »
2 Quick questions, going to park on Spring Break (got a kiddo so thatís the only time we can go), I know it is busy, but if driving in from Ft. Davis (long drive each day) and arriving at the park between 8-9am each day. Starting my days off headed to lost mine trail day 1 and window trail the next day.

1. Is it better to enter the park from 118 or 385? Google says they are about the same time/distance but from a sitting in line perspective is one better than the other?
2. Trail head parking can limited (lost mine and window) so I will be trying to get there early as possible but realistically how bad is it? Any tips? Can I park on the side of the road at either trail head?

Thanks and look forward to the trip!

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Offline Imre

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Re: Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2019, 04:51:34 PM »
Cannot tell you about spring break but I remember that on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2018 the Lost Mine Trail parking was full by 10 AM. Visitors had parked in the turnouts along the road and were walking to the trail along the road from each direction. I believe there are signs prohibiting parking along the side of the road.  Fortunately I was headed elsewhere.
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2019, 11:18:25 AM »
2 Quick questions, going to park on Spring Break (got a kiddo so thatís the only time we can go), I know it is busy, but if driving in from Ft. Davis (long drive each day) and arriving at the park between 8-9am each day. Starting my days off headed to lost mine trail day 1 and window trail the next day.

1. Is it better to enter the park from 118 or 385? Google says they are about the same time/distance but from a sitting in line perspective is one better than the other?
2. Trail head parking can limited (lost mine and window) so I will be trying to get there early as possible but realistically how bad is it? Any tips? Can I park on the side of the road at either trail head?

Hey, James....

I'm a veteran of multiple spring breaks in BIBE with my kids.  Here's my feedback.

1. The map utilities all say it's a toss-up.  But the 118 route takes you south through Alpine and through the dreaded train crossing.  I've been stuck behind that 118 train crossing for up to an hour while the train was stationary for various reasons.  90 turns east toward Marathon north of the train tracks and I think it'll allow you to avoid any stopped trains in Alpine and elswewhere.  Though the same train passes through Marathon, It rarely stops there for any reason, so any wait at that crossing should be relatively short compared to what you could suffer through in Alpine.  I'd take the 385 route.

2. As far as trail parking, the advice for LMT is pretty simple: the earlier the better. My kids and I have always come to the park to go backpacking, so I can't speak directly to the two hikes you're asking about. But I can tell you that over the decades, I've seen the tiny Lost Mine Trail parking lot fill by 9 or 10am during holiday weeks. The park service WILL ticket you for parking along the road, and potentially even for using nearby pullouts. So my advice is whenever you attempt Lost Mine Trail (which I highly, highly, highly recommend - it has some of the BEST views in the park, better than Emory Peak) you should plan on being at the trailhead no later than 9am.

The Window, on the other hand, is not so bad, assuming you're talking about approaching it from the top. You have the entire Basin parking lot at your disposal. It's not unlimited, but it's way bigger than the Lost Mine parking, and it's mostly used by dayhikers, restaurant patrons, and lodge guests.  The user-load ebbs and flows throughout the day. Sometimes there are plenty of spots, sometimes only a few, rarely none. You have options.  Bear in mind that the hike to the Window is all downhill; which mean the hike back is all uphill.  Plan accordingly.


Good luck!  The park is a magical place, especially with children.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2019, 11:36:18 AM »
I hadn't thought about the train but.....
I have seen many posts and pictures of long back ups at the Maverick entrance station (closest to Study Butte) and have never heard of a back up at Persimmon Gap more than a few cars.
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2019, 11:53:22 AM »
I hadn't thought about the train but.....
I have seen many posts and pictures of long back ups at the Maverick entrance station (closest to Study Butte) and have never heard of a back up at Persimmon Gap more than a few cars.

That is another excellent point. I agree completely, ME. Another reason to enter via 385.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline jamesrg

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Re: Big Bend Parking/Entrance Questions
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2019, 05:31:54 PM »
Thanks everyone for the great responses! Looks like 385 is the way to go and I will start preparing the family to wake before dawn :).


 


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