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Big Bend Conservancy

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(Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP

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Offline Floridafran

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(Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« on: July 05, 2018, 02:52:11 PM »
Hi all.  After lurking for about a week, and learning so much from your generous sharing with others, I joined so I can learn even more before we make our first trip in November (11-17).

Some info on us and what we like to do - Two mature adults (73 & 69) who have managed to stay fit enough to do day hikes at 10,000' elevations, though we've done very little desert hiking. We do have hydration packs, as well as other means to carry extra fluids, trekking poles, and a good portable first aid kit. Not everything we'll need, but a start.

These two parks are our last stop on a 4 week RV trip (5 if you count the time to get to "the good stuff" and back home). We're starting out in southern New Mexico (another first) to experience things like White Sands by the full moon, Kilbourne Hole, Gila Cliff dwellings (and the surrounding NF), and a number of off the beaten path places I've found out about.  We enjoy taking the Jeep through/to beautiful scenery, interesting ghost towns/old mines/ruins, unusual geological formations, and photographing all of those.  We'll hike to get there.  Drive to get there.  Or drive, then hike, to get there.

We'll make our way from NM to BB via Sitting Bull Falls, Guadalupe Mtns NP and Davis Mts SP.   This trip we'll have 7 full days for the Big Bend areas.  I'm leaning toward splitting that 4 for BBRSP and west side (Terlingua?) and 3 at the RGVCG for the rest of BB. Does that sound like the best split of the days? We hope to take the Jeep to do some exploring in BBRSP if possible.  It's a 4 door, 4X4 Wrangler, mostly stock except for the 6 rated tires we put on it last November in Colorado when 2 different tire dealers, repairing 2 separate holes, told us "you don't have the right tires for where you're driving this thing."  Since neither tried to sell us new tires, we decided we should listen. We completed that trip, driving some awful (but fun) roads, with no further problems.  Hopefully we're set in the tire department now.

Since the Big Bend parks are only 2 1/2 (2 if we push it) days from home, we hope to make another trip to your area some spring to see the desert in bloom.  This time we'll be doing most of the usual drives and hikes, I'm guessing, although we're open to suggestions for anything you think we would enjoy. Places to hike, drive, eat, dry camp for one awesome night under the stars, you name, we'll at least consider it.

We are not RV resort people.  Just need a decent place to park the RV.  Not knowing how hot it might still be, I'll probably want at least electric.  I know that means the parking lot at RGV, but like I said, it's just a place to park and sleep.  If it's cool enough we'll try to get a dry spot under the cottonwoods.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.  We're looking forward to a trip we had to postpone 5 years ago due to family illnesses.

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Offline Mesquito

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 01:36:41 PM »
I would only suggest that while BBRSP is the perfect place for a Jeep Wrangler, it is not really suited for RVs and trailers. You might camp along the River Road and go in for the day.  Or ó Iíve considered this but never tried itó drive into the Vista De Los Bocefillos campsite and use that a base. Itís about 15 miles from the highway and the access road is very good.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 02:30:15 PM »
I'm looking to get a Jeep in the near future and one of my goals is to do the unimproved River Road.  I think you can hit a couple things on your list taking that road, one is off road driving and you'll pass the old mine area (Mariscal Mine).  Then turn up Ross Maxwell, some old ruins along there, great place for pictures.  That whole road is a treasure of sites.  Of course before you turn up the paved Ross Maxwell, get ice cream at the store, check out Santa Elena.  Not sure how long River Road drive would be end to end (someone on here will know). 

You like interesting geological formations....that is Big Bend!


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Offline presidio

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 04:46:26 PM »
I'm looking to get a Jeep in the near future and one of my goals is to do the unimproved River Road. Not sure how long River Road drive would be end to end (someone on here will know).

You don't need a jeep to do the River Road. Except for rare occasions right after a frog-strangling downpour, a 2WD truck (and even a carefully driven soccer-mom SUV can do it without issue. The limits are in tire quality rather than the vehicle.

Why?

Because, like all roads in the park it isn't all that tough and regardless of vehicle type you'll be advancing at pretty much the same speed. Driver skill is the requisite factor; more so than any other. Go slow when necessary, and at a moderate speed the rest of the time = success. Driving like it is stolen (or assuming a vehicle's abilities based on perceived cosmetic appearance) = damage/failure. Not being lured into cockiness and exceeding personal and equipment limits =  everything is beautiful.

The River Road is 51 miles: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/primitive-dirt-roads.htm

Surprisingly, this actual, factual, refreshingly honest, helpful statement about BIBE roads: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_road-safety.htm
doesn't even mention 4WD, nor "high clearance"  being necessary, nor the usual "OMG, death awaits" drill about the backcountry. (This also is a rare acknowledgment the NPS sometimes does things right despite their best efforts otherwise!! Incredulous comments are unnecessary).
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Mesquito

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2018, 05:59:26 PM »
I would only suggest that while BBRSP is the perfect place for a Jeep Wrangler, it is not really suited for RVs and trailers. You might camp along the River Road and go in for the day.  Or ó Iíve considered this but never tried itó drive into the Vista De Los Bocefillos campsite and use that a base. Itís about 15 miles from the highway and the access road is very good.

By River Road I guess I meant 170 between Lafitas and Presidio.   Donít know what I was thinking.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 10:41:32 AM »
I would only suggest that while BBRSP is the perfect place for a Jeep Wrangler, it is not really suited for RVs and trailers. You might camp along the River Road and go in for the day.  Or ó Iíve considered this but never tried itó drive into the Vista De Los Bocefillos campsite and use that a base. Itís about 15 miles from the highway and the access road is very good.

By River Road I guess I meant 170 between Lafitas and Presidio.   Donít know what I was thinking.


170 between Lajitas and Presidio, I believe is called river road.  It is a really nice scenic drive on a paved road.  Lots of pull off areas and great views along the way. 

There is also a River Road in BBNP.  It is an unimproved road that, like the name implies, loosely follows the river.  Like Presido says, although unimproved, it doesn't necessarily take a tank to drive it.

The only reason I want to take a Jeep down it is because it just makes sense.  I'll be buying a new vehicle in the next few months and although I've always had a pick-up, I think this time I want to buy something more fun and I'm seriously considering the new JL Wrangler.  Once I get it, I want to drive it down some dirt roads.  On my next trip to BiBE, my plan is to drive some of those unimproved roads and snap pictures that make it look like I could only get there by the off road abilities of my vehicle and my 4X4 driving experience mixed with nerves of steal.  I will crop out any Soccer Mom SUV's in the picture.

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Offline Floridafran

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 11:36:34 AM »
Thank you for the replies.  I've made a doc folder to include them in.

"Because, like all roads in the park it isn't all that tough and regardless of vehicle type you'll be advancing at pretty much the same speed. Driver skill is the requisite factor; more so than any other. Go slow when necessary, and at a moderate speed the rest of the time = success. Driving like it is stolen (or assuming a vehicle's abilities based on perceived cosmetic appearance) = damage/failure. Not being lured into cockiness and exceeding personal and equipment limits =  everything is beautiful."

presidido, I couldn't have written a better description of our approach to using the Jeep.   It's my everyday car, just with much better tires and more "pinstriping"  than any other car I've ever owned. We've been on some awesome drives, mostly in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming.  Twice we've cut a drive short.  Once was because fresh snow totally obliterated the tracks we'd been following through old snow on a paved mountain pass above Torrey, Utah.  We had no idea how much farther we had to go, the snow was falling faster and the light was fading, so we decided it was better to turn around than risk getting stuck. The other was an out and back side track off The Last Dollar Road near Ouray.  Drop off to nowhere on one side.  Rocks going up the other.  Track narrowed to barely wide enough for the Jeep.  We knew there was at least one vehicle ahead of us because we'd seen them from a distance.  My husband said, "This is no longer fun and if we meet someone either on our way up or coming back down it's going to be worse.  I do not want to be backing up." Finally found a spot where there was a wide spot.  The crushed bushes told us we weren't the only ones who decided the waterfall and view at the top couldn't be that fabulous and used it as a multi-point turn around. With me spotting him so he didn't take the hard way down, we got pointed downhill and enjoyed the rest of the LDR.

Safe adventuring.

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Offline BlindWilly

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2018, 01:18:25 PM »
The state park has better trails for 4x4 vehicles.  The National Park has a few "Tough" trails, but the views and the land are breathtaking.
Another option would be to park the RV in Lajitas or Study Butte at one of the RV parks and spend some days between the two.
BBNP Trails:   Black Gap Road & Old Ore Road.
BBRSP Trails: Road to Nowhere, The Magnesium and Uranium Mines and Paseo Al Solitario. (East Side)
                         Rancherias Loop, Oso Loop, Fresno Canyon (Central)
                         Botella Trail and the Cienega Mountain Area. (West and NW sections of the park)

I'm heading to the NW side of the State Park this year for the first time. Ranger Tim, who frequents this site, says that it it the most rugged area of the park. I'll be hitting that area with 4 or 5 other vehicles so that we are covered if anything happens, always a good idea in this part of the country.
"No matter where you go, there you are"
-Buckaroo Bonzai

www.txpedition.com

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Offline Floridafran

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Re: (Finally) First trip to BBNP and BBRSP
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2018, 11:34:36 PM »
Thanks for the reply, BlindWilly. 

We're going to split our time.  Probably 4 days near Terlingua/Study Butte and 3 or 4 at RGV.  Since we won't have another vehicle to go with, we I'm guessing we'll stick to the tamer routes for this trip.

No matter what we do, I'm sure we'll enjoy it.  I've heard and read so much about what a beautiful place the whole Big Bend area is.

 


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