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.


Itinerary Advice

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Offline sasicign

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Itinerary Advice
« on: May 14, 2018, 11:28:44 PM »
Hello There!  My name is Susan, I'm planning my first trip to BBNP as an adult, so help me out here if i'm thinking crazy.

We're traveling to the park Memorial Day weekend, and here is what we were thinking for the itinerary:

Friday - drive from Austin to Terlingua, stay the night in an air bNb to make it to Chisos Basin Visitor Center Saturday at open.

We'd like to see the Chisos and also some of the western parts of the park [too ambitious?]  We'd like to see the Chisos and also some desert landscape - not set on Mule Ears area.

Saturday, zone camping in Mule Ears SO1, or nearby.

Sunday [if we can get one of the campsites, hike up the Chisos, spend Sunday night there.]
[If we can't get one of the campsites, hike up the Chisos and stay for sunset, hike down in the darkness back to zoned campsite.]

Monday - see sunrise on the rim if we're in the mountains, hike back, drive back to Austin.

What do you think?  Thank you!! :)

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Offline dprather

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Re: Itinerary Advice
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2018, 11:43:48 PM »
Susan - for those who love the place, there's really nothing "wrong" you can do with any four days in Big Bend.

That said, rethink your first day.  The Chisos and the Western part of the park is, I think, too ambitious.

Do this: get a real-live park map that will allow you to grasp distance, mileage, and driving time at the 45mph speed limit of the Park.  Driving time is not a deal-breaker, but driving-time is a for-sure part of the deal at Big Bend, which is BIG).

Suggestion: spend the first entire day in the Western end of the Park (see the sights along Maverick Road, Santa Elana Canyon, drive down to Costolon, drive up Ross Maxwell Parkway and take some of the several short hikes off of the Parkway...maybe even add Grapevine Hills).

After that first day, then spend the rest of your days in the Chisos and down around Mule Ears.  The Chisos are meant to be savored with a day or two for themselves.

Big Bend has been called a river-mountain-desert park. Your original idea wraps around all of that.  A slight tweak in your schedule will get you to all of that really well.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline sasicign

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Re: Itinerary Advice
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2018, 11:56:02 PM »
thank you dprather!!! digesting this and will modify accordingly.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Itinerary Advice
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2018, 08:19:42 AM »
Your best plan is to get up early and make it to the Panther Junction visitors center before they close.  Leave Austin by 6 am or earlier.   Get that early start on the very front of your trip.  8 hours to the visitor center.  Get there and get your backpacking permit for the Chisos.  That will dictate what you will do.  It is already over 100 out in the desert.  Zone camping out in Mule Ears will be brutal.  If you can't get a Chisos permit for Saturday and Sunday, either bake out in the desert one night like you wanted to, or get up early on Saturday, and see if you can get a site in the Basin campground first thing.  Nothing wrong with telling them you are out zone camping and you actually staying in the Basin campground.  This might be necessary if your Chisos backpacking permit can't start till Sunday night.  The rule is that the permit must start the day you get it, or the next day only.  Meaning getting the permit for a backpacking trip for Sunday night means you have to get it on Saturday or Sunday.

It's a busy weekend, and they have a bunch of sites in the Chisos closed because they are scared the place is too dry.  Go figure......A desert being dry   :willynilly:  The Chisos back country camping should be the main goal of the trip.  It takes 4 hours to walk down to your car from the furthest Chisos camp site on the rim.  You'll have plenty of time to make it home on Monday.
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