Big Bend Chat

Big Bend or Bust! => Suggested Itineraries => Topic started by: Maurits on September 23, 2013, 04:28:27 PM

Title: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on September 23, 2013, 04:28:27 PM
Hi all!

We are 2 Dutch guys and we'll be visiting BB for 2 full days in October (14, 15). We're really looking forward to visit BB, it's actually one (among others of course!) of the main reasons for visiting Texas! Unfortunately it was not possible to stay in the park anymore.

We're reasonably fit&experienced hikers and planning an itinerary but could do with some good advice!

Or plan so far:
Day 1: hiking the South Rim Trail  and/or the Emory Peak Trail.
Day 2: the RMS-drive (with stops)

Since it's a very busy time of year to visit BB when we are there, were doubting about 'doing' the RMS-drive. We're looking for solitude and want to enjoy the beauty of BB as much as possible. Would the River Road be a good option?

So if you have any ideas that could help us to make the most out of our stay in BB, just shoot!

Thanks!

 

Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: trtlrock on September 23, 2013, 04:54:40 PM
River Road will take all day, and I wouldn't endanger my vacation by taking a rental car on River Rd, with a relatively high possibility of a flat tire, etc.

RMSD is a great idea. Combine that (you should have time) with a drive down to Rio Grande Village & back and you should have a great time. I would do RGV in the morning, then RMSD to St Elena, then back the same way, trying to time it to end up at Sotol Vista Overlook for sunset.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: The Scorpion on September 23, 2013, 05:04:50 PM
Welcome, although the park is "busy" in October, the amount of people you will see is still very small, and you wont encounter many crowds. The south Rim is a nice hike, its about 14 miles long. You could go up Emory peak as well while you are doing the south rim trail, but it will add time. This will consume 1 full day.

Please take plenty of water, even October can see temps up in the 90's. So many people underestimate the climate and their need for water. You should always have no less than 3 liters with you on any of the trails. Even experienced hikers in good shape have found themselves in trouble in the park.

Depending on the type of vehicle you have will determine if you can do the river road. There are a few areas where you might need 4 wheel drive, a high clearance vehicle is pretty much needed. Best to check the road conditions several days before you plan to do the river road, any amount of rain can make the road pretty tricky. The river road from the east side to the west side will pretty much take all day as well.

James

Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: badknees on September 23, 2013, 05:49:12 PM
Hi all!

Since it's a very busy time of year to visit BB when we are there


I don't think you will have anything that resembles a crowd in mid October. Should be very quiet.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: steelfrog on September 23, 2013, 06:37:22 PM
Should be great that time of year!
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: jim2 on September 23, 2013, 06:43:11 PM
i go to the park most octobers for a week. traffic will not be a problem. the r.m. scenic drive is a great way to spend a day in the park. some good hikes are tuff canyon, upper burro mesa, santa elena canyon. stop at as sotol vista, and homer wilson overlook. please post a trip report.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Quatro on September 23, 2013, 09:05:52 PM
Unfortunately it was not possible to stay in the park anymore.

The Chisos Mountain Lodge in the park is the most convenient place to stay.  And it does look like there are no rooms available for your trip dates right now.  Sometimes people cancel their reservations so keep checking back with the hotel.

If nothing is available, I would stay in Terlingua/ Study Butte (2 towns right beside each other).  Some people like to stay here:

http://bigbendfarflung.com/lodging/

I haven't stayed in Terlingua.  Maybe someone else can provide another lodging suggestion.

I like your plan of the South Rim on Day 1 and desert hikes off Ross Maxwell highway for day 2.  I would do the South Rim and add Emory Peak only if there is time.  As others have advised, take more water than you think you will need.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Geezer on September 23, 2013, 10:57:56 PM
As you are young and fit, doing the Rim and Emory peak in one day should be easy. E. Peak provides a different view of the park. Just get an early start and allow enough time to really take in the views. And take a couple of good headlamps. I once made it down from Emory Peak by starlight -- but not recommended. Also, take sunscreen, hat and longsleeve shirt. Four liters of water each would not be too much for such a strenuous day. Afterward you could recuperate in the hot spring. Search "hot Spring" on the BB web site.

RMSD is a good idea for day two. You can't get stuck on it.

I would not expect crowds in October.

Have fun and send us a trip report!

Geezer



Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: elhombre on September 24, 2013, 07:58:49 AM
The rim hike is the one must do hike.  Don't miss it.  Second day should include a trip to cattail falls as a minimum.  Less than two hours round trip walking with time added on siting around the falls.  Then make your way down to Santa Elena canyon and walk the trial all the way up into the canyon.  This will keep you out of the car longer and on the trails more.    :great:
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on September 24, 2013, 02:02:12 PM
Thank you for all your advices! They are really helpful.

About the River Rd: we would't want to risk a flat tire. We're renting a 4WD, but that's no guarantee of not getting one. But for some reason the RR sounds&looks very appealing.

The RMSD is a very popular one, for good reasons of course. And, correct me if I'm wrong, I thought that SE Canyon is also a popular spot to start a river tour for many people. That's why I had my doubts concerning the drive.

We would love to experience a sunset, but since we're not staying in the park we're wondering if it's safe to do the drive back in the dark (Terlingua).

Since I just don't have the time to read through everything that is already written, I apologize before I'll ask my next question:
What is your favourite hike and drive in BB and why?



 

 
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: trtlrock on September 24, 2013, 02:15:24 PM
RR sounds&looks very appealing.

It is. But since you're only here for 2 days, why risk a flat on RR? Furthermore, as scenic as RR is, I think the sights to see (and hike) from RMSD are better, especially for someone with little time to spend in BiBe.

I thought that SE Canyon is also a popular spot to start a river tour for many people. That's why I had my doubts concerning the drive.

Sure, there will probably be people at SE Canyon. But it's a must-do. It won't be crowded by any means.

if it's safe to do the drive back in the dark (Terlingua).

Piece of cake -- that's what headlights are for.  ;)


What is your favourite hike and drive in BB and why?

Yes, if you've only got time for 1 hike, then (weather permitting) the South Rim is a must-do. Shorter, wonderful hikes off the RMSD are Tuff Canyon, Homer Wilson ranch and up Blue Creek a bit towards Red Rocks, or Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff. Chimneys Trail or Cattail Falls off RMSD if you have time. Indian Head from Study Butte.

Best (easy-on-pavement) drives would be RMSD, Basin Road, other side of park down to RGV...
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: RichardM on September 24, 2013, 02:56:21 PM
To give you an idea of what "crowded" in Big Bend means, the last time I did the South Rim hike it was what was considered crowded. That means we saw almost 20 people during the whole day on the trail. Now then, crowds in the Basin can be a problem with finding a room or campsite or getting a table at the lodge dining room, but once out on the trails, people spread out fairly well.

I thought that SE Canyon is also a popular spot to start a river tour for many people. That's why I had my doubts concerning the drive.

Sure, there will probably be people at SE Canyon. But it's a must-do. It won't be crowded by any means.
I would be surprised if more than one tour started there per day. Not an issue.

if it's safe to do the drive back in the dark (Terlingua).

Piece of cake -- that's what headlights are for.  ;)
Just stay under the speed limit and there should be no problems. Keep an eye out for wildlife.


What is your favourite hike and drive in BB and why?
South Rim hike, for the views. Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive for the geology and many hikes available.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: The Scorpion on September 24, 2013, 05:34:35 PM
Don't forget to have your passport with you, there are immigration check points north of the park that you will have to go through.

If you are worried about security along the border and being out at night, the Big Bend area is in fact very safe. Many people in the Study Butte / Terlingua area might be a bit odd, but they are indeed friendly and a great bunch of people.





Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on September 26, 2013, 07:03:29 PM
Thanks again for your posts! Based on the advice we'll skip the River Road.

How far can you actually hike into SE Canyon (we don't mind about getting our feet wet)? We would like to take a canoe trip...but..I've read that the water level is very low (most of the time) and therefore the tour companies cannot guarantee it.

Any thoughts on hiking vs. taking a canoe trip?





 




Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Flash on September 26, 2013, 09:45:24 PM
The Santa Elena Canyon trail is not very long, I'd say less than a mile one-way. I suggest avoiding the hike in the early-to-mid-afternoon range as the rock walls can toast your brains from the reflected heat of the sun! Very enjoyable as an evening or morning hike. You basically hike until you either run into a gigantic boulder or walk into the River, because there is no where else to go. When the River is low, you can in fact easily wade upstream a ways.  :)
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: steelfrog on September 27, 2013, 09:00:49 AM
The water level has been pretty high lately; call Far Flung if that's what you want to do and inquire abuot the water levels.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: RichardM on September 27, 2013, 09:05:06 AM
Any thoughts on hiking vs. taking a canoe trip?
With only 2 full days in the park, I'd stick to hiking. The canoe trip would be a great experience, but you'll see a lot more of the park with day hikes. Saving the canoe trip for some other time will add incentive to come back. ;)
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 01, 2013, 12:56:30 PM
Thanks for the replies! But since the government shutdown BBNP is closed.....I called BBNP today (October 1). It must be terrible for the people who work there.

We're not sure what to do now (nobody is I guess). We're thinking to cancel our trip to BB...any suggestions are more than welcome.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: RichardM on October 01, 2013, 01:13:22 PM
Thanks for the replies! But since the government shutdown BBNP is closed.....I called BBNP today (October 1). It must be terrible for the people who work there.

We're not sure what to do now (nobody is I guess). We're thinking to cancel our trip to BB...any suggestions are more than welcome.
Hopefully this mess will be resolved before you get here. In the meantime, you might consider looking into Big Bend Ranch State Park, which is still open.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 01, 2013, 03:14:03 PM
Thanks again Richard! I really appreciate all the advice you're giving! I'm already reading and looking to go to BBRSP instead. Correct me if I'm wrong but from what I've read the State Park can be seen in 1 full day, and we have 2 full days planned in this area of TX.

Since we're coming all the way from Houston, we have to figure out a plan B and wonder if it's worth the big drive. Right now I don't have a clue about hiking trails in the BBRSP area....   :-\
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: kevint on October 01, 2013, 03:58:14 PM
Keep digging.  BBRSP can not be seen in one day unless you plan to stay in your car.  Even if you only drive 170, visit Ft. Leaton and then drive into the Sauceda ranger station, it'll take 1/2 day with only minimal sightseeing stops.  It's over 300,000 acres (over 1250 square kilometers) mostly accessible only by foot, mountain bike, horse or high clearance vehicle.  Given you're coming from out of the country, I assume you're stuck with foot travel.
 
Do your research, I think you'll find there is plenty to do.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Quatro on October 01, 2013, 09:28:10 PM
Good idea to make an alternate plan, but it is much too early to give up on visiting Big Bend National Park.  Instead look for opportunity.  Tomorrow I would try to make a hotel reservation for the Lodge in the Park.  They will be starting to get cancellations.  Just make sure you understand the cancellation policy in case you later decide to cancel your reservation.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 02, 2013, 11:19:26 AM
Keep digging.
Do your research, I think you'll find there is plenty to do.

I wish I'd have more time to make a solid Plan B, but I simply don't have that luxury. That's why I'm relying on all the valuable info that's already been given to me me on this fantastic site!

Since we don't camp I was wondering if anybody could give us some advice about day hikes while staying in Terlingua for the BB State Park area.

Good idea to make an alternate plan, but it is much too early to give up on visiting Big Bend National Park.

 :crossedfingers: :crossedfingers: I hope so!
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: The Scorpion on October 02, 2013, 11:36:34 AM
Closed Canyon is the only hike i have done in the State Park.

You can also spend a few minutes to explore the "DOM" rock which was made famous by the movie Fandango. Its like super easy to get to , Might take you a hole 2 minutes to get to it from your car.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxjaAT7roWY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxjaAT7roWY)
 
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: alan in shreveport on October 02, 2013, 11:38:08 AM
Closed Canyon is a nice , fairly short but interesting hike. The Trailhead is on 170. Fort Leaton , down the road toward Presidio, has an interesting history that the rangers like to talk about - ask about Ben Leaton. Plus it gives you an excuse to drive the riverroad - nice, scenic drive. Theres Pinto Canyon and Casa Piedra roads when you're tired of hiking - they define  "the middle of nowhere".
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: RichardM on October 02, 2013, 01:27:11 PM
I'd recommend the Ojito Adentro and Cinco Tinajas trails, both of which are in the interior of the park on the main road to Sauceda. The main road is gravel and often bumpy, but if you're renting a 4x4 you shouldn't have any problems. When you check in at Fort Leaton, they will be happy to make additional suggestions.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Homer67 on October 02, 2013, 01:54:04 PM
I suppose if our trip draws near and BiBe's closed Sandi and I could do the Rancherias Loop.

Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: steelfrog on October 02, 2013, 02:58:59 PM
Hike to the Fresno Canyon overlook; Guale mesa is cool
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: jim2 on October 02, 2013, 03:52:55 PM
this has happened in the past, the gov. closes for a couple of days. outrage ensues, media  field day, the world looks at America and scratches it's head. odds are good that the gov. will reopen within a couple of days to a week. you should make a plan to visit to see the state park for insurance . in addition to closed canyon, rancherias canyon is also off 170, as is rancherias loop. you have to stop at the ranger station to get a permit, it's also right off 170, ask the rangers which hike might be best for you. i've always found the rangers in both parks very helpful.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: guc126 on October 02, 2013, 06:44:26 PM
The state park has accommodations, either bunk beds in the ranch "barracks" or a private in the ranch house at the Sauceda park headquarters but I'm sure you have already inquired about them. The meals are alright. Its a good central location if you are not camping plus they rent out mountain bikes. If you are from Netherlands then you know all about bicycles. There are many trails and old ranch roads you can bicycle on and Fresno canyon is not to be missed. I would stick to the central area of the park if you only have 2 days, Any 4wd you can rent is probably not robust enough to travel many of the ranch roads, ask the park rangers what they think the vehicle can handle. You can also rent horses at Sauceda with one of the ranch hands as  guide.  (the price is somewhat high but heck, there isn't a better way to be a "Texan" for a day than on horseback in remote country. Other ideas for hikes: get a real early start for a hike up to the summit of "La Mota", you should be back down by noon. Hike to the desert spring at Ojito Adentro but hike out of the canyon above the spring and explore, see hou high you can get on Agua Adentro Mountain. Most of the best hiking in BBRSP is not on trails but crosscountry with a map in your hand, another gem are hiking the buttes of Panther mountain southwest of Sauceda. See if you can find your way cross country from Cinco Tinajas to Baņos de Leyva. Hikes from Puerta Chilicote down to Fresno canyon or arroyo Mexicano. This is all in the central area of the park, There are even better hikes in the periphery that you probably don't have time for.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: catz on October 03, 2013, 11:06:20 AM
this has happened in the past, the gov. closes for a couple of days. outrage ensues, media  field day, the world looks at America and scratches it's head. odds are good that the gov. will reopen within a couple of days to a week. you should make a plan to visit to see the state park for insurance . in addition to closed canyon, rancherias canyon is also off 170, as is rancherias loop. you have to stop at the ranger station to get a permit, it's also right off 170, ask the rangers which hike might be best for you. i've always found the rangers in both parks very helpful.

You cannot do the Rancherias Loop in a day.  It is typically done as a two night, three day backpack.

I am not optimistic that this particular shutdown will be over in a week or even two.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: jim2 on October 03, 2013, 02:41:37 PM
while doing the rancherias loop is a multiple day trip, they could go out until it's time to turn back and make a day hike out of it.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 03, 2013, 06:30:44 PM
A really big thank you for all your input&advices. I'm spending as much time as possible to consider all the options I've been given.

I called the Sauceda HQ and there is still plenty of room available for our dates. But we do only have 2 full days to spend...and the drive from Del Rio to Sauceda would just take too long. As much as we would like to stay there I don't think it's a wise option. That's a shame because a lot of the day hikes seem to be/start in the middle of the State Park.

I've been looking into the Rancherias Loop (3 day hike), we could indeed try to make a day trip out of it by turning back.

When I called they warned me that the road conditions in the State Park are in a very bad condition. We are renting a HC SUV but really don't want to push it and end up in damaging the car.

The 170 won't be a problem, but correct me if I'm wrong, this part can be seen (with stops) in a full day. Any suggestions for a desert hike around Terlingua?

Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: trtlrock on October 03, 2013, 07:21:42 PM
I've been looking into the Rancherias Loop (3 day hike), we could indeed try to make a day trip out of it by turning back.

I don't know if you've brought gear to camp out overnight? If so, get a 1-night permit for BBRSP zone-camping (get it from Barton Warnock Center), then hike in from the western trailhead of Rancherias Loop. You'll make a stiff climb up onto Guale mesa, then enjoy views of upper Guale mesa in front of you as you hike towards it, with La Guitarra on your right. You can angle left (west) and look down into Tapado Canyon, or ascend up onto upper Guale, or even hike farther NE to Rancherias Spring. Then out the same way the next day. The lighting and views will be completely different than on the inbound leg, and this portion of the loop is very scenic.

If you can't camp overnight, then do Closed Canyon (trailhead within a few minutes drive of W-Rancherias trailhead), then do as much of above as you can with the rest of the daylight.




When I called they warned me that the road conditions in the State Park are in a very bad condition. We are renting a HC SUV but really don't want to push it and end up in damaging the car.

BBRSP roads make River Road look like a parking lot.


The 170 won't be a problem, but correct me if I'm wrong, this part can be seen (with stops) in a full day.

A leisurely day. You could knock it out (Lajitas -> Presidio -> Lajitas) in half a day.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 04, 2013, 03:55:48 AM
I've been looking into the Rancherias Loop (3 day hike), we could indeed try to make a day trip out of it by turning back.

I don't know if you've brought gear to camp out overnight?

No, we don't. We're not planning to camp this time.


When I called they warned me that the road conditions in the State Park are in a very bad condition. We are renting a HC SUV but really don't want to push it and end up in damaging the car.

BBRSP roads make River Road look like a parking lot.

Exactly...that's one of my biggest concerns having a rental car


The 170 won't be a problem, but correct me if I'm wrong, this part can be seen (with stops) in a full day.

A leisurely day. You could knock it out (Lajitas -> Presidio -> Lajitas) in half a day.

That's what I figured as well...a leisurely day. We have to seriously think in cutting down our stay in the BB area with one day. The extra day will give us more time elsewhere in our trip.

Such a shame really, BB was supposed to be the highlight of our trip.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: chris on October 04, 2013, 11:13:49 AM
I think going through the Terlingua area and driving 170 will alone still be a Texas trip highlight without a doubt, despite the lack of access to the NP.  Especially if you traverse the whole length of 170 and stop at the DOM rock-great photo opportunities for the two minute effort!  But nobody needs to know those pictures were taken just off the side of the road, right?  Best of luck!
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Cliff on October 04, 2013, 04:06:47 PM
I encourage you to keep your plans for visiting the Big Bend area.  The shutdown will likely be resolved by then, and if not, there are more than enough activities outside the National Park to occupy your 2 days.  It is a fantastic area of Texas, and infinitely better than spending more time in Houston (which even Houstonites/onians? will admit).

If the park is open, I highly recommend a day float, or longer if possible, through Santa Elena Canyon.  The river level is up now, which should allow them to use rafts.  The view is much more spectacular from the bottom looking up, than the top looking down.  If the park is closed, you can still do a float in Colorado Canyon, though it's nowhere near as impressive as Santa Elena.  I prefer Desert Sports for river trip guides, but all the local outfitters are reliable.

As others have said, River Road is not very scenic.  The Ross Maxwell is much better, as is a drive into the Chisos Basin.  Doing a sunrise hike on one of the basin rim hikes in the Chisos is at the top of many people's list.  The mountains below light up in the morning.  I feel the best sunset in the park is at the pullout just past the tunnel on the road to Rio Grande Village.  The white limestone of the Sierra Del Carmen light up with many colors at sunset.  Ernst Tinaja is a favorite hike of mine, especially if it's hot out.  The pools/tinajas should be full and clean with the recent rains.

If the park is closed, you can combine the previously mentioned Colorado Canyon float with a evening in Terlingua.  Watching the sunset while drinking beer on the deck next to the Starlight cafe with all the locals (and seemingly every dog in town) is a great way to experience the local people- something you Euros tell us gringos to do instead of the whirlwind tours of Europe.  Buy a 12 pack of beer from the store, it's right there, and share some.  If you buy long neck bottles, you can go see the mayor, a goat named Clay Henry II, and feed him as many as you can afford.  Although, his enthusiasm for beer has diminished since some college kids castrated him- ask a local for the story.  If you stay in Terlingua that night, you can continue the evening at the La Kiva bar just up the road.

Another option for a day, if you are interested in modern art, is the town of Marfa, TX.  It's close enough to detour a little bit on the way there, or back from Houston.

If you scrap the long drive west altogether, Austin is a much better town to spend some time in than Houston.  You can do the central TX BBQ tour, or just the Austin BBQ tour, but at the very least eat at Franklin BBQ.  Eating beef brisket from Franklin BBQ is life changing.  The wait is ~3 hours, but well worth it.  Get there before 9:00 am, 8:00am is even better, and the total wait won't be any longer, since you will get served much sooner.  Don't even bother with the pulled pork.  Just a mix of lean brisket, a little fatty brisket, some burnt ends, pork ribs, and a sausage link to share.  That goes for all the BBQ joints in the Austin area- J Mueller, La Barbecue, Snow's, Louie Mueller, etc., except the ones that have beef short ribs on the menu, get one of those, too.  Just remember- no sauce, at least until you've tried the meat without it first.  I only put it on bread.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Geezer on October 04, 2013, 10:25:49 PM
Far out!

Geezer
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: catz on October 05, 2013, 11:16:10 AM
If the park is still closed, I second the Colorado Canyon float option.  The float itself takes about half a day, maybe a little more.  It's a nice trip and they will fix you lunch.   If the park is open, I disagree with spending a day and a half going through Santa Elena, especially since you only have two days for everything. 
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Cliff on October 06, 2013, 07:15:10 PM
If the park is still closed, I second the Colorado Canyon float option.  The float itself takes about half a day, maybe a little more.
At the current river levels, you would likely have to paddle upstream to make the shortest of the Colorado Canyon trips last more than 1 hour.  The shuttle will take longer.

If the park is open, I disagree with spending a day and a half going through Santa Elena, especially since you only have two days for everything.
Sadly, the odds of the park being open by the dates of their trip look very remote.

If it does re-open though, the river is up, and is virtually guaranteed to have plenty of flow for the next 2 weeks at the very least.  Usually, even when it isn't at high levels, but "high enough", outfitters offer a one day guided (oared, no paddling) raft floats of Santa Elena.  The float can take anywhere from 8 hours at minimum levels, to less than 3 hours at current levels.

RE: burning 1.5 days in Santa Elena- I assume you were referring to my suggestion to do an overnight river trip.   Given the OP mentioned wanting a "solitude experience", a Santa Elena overnight is a perfect fit.  I, and many others, consider an overnight float to be the single best way for a visitor to spend 2 days in the park, even if that's all the time they will spend in the park.  The biggest drawback is the cost, if that's an issue.

Having said that, I think most everyone would agree that going on at least a 1 day Santa Elena is a must do, if the park is open, and the river is up.  A planned river trip hasn't even been an option for a couple of years, at least.  The one day float would still allow another full day to do a scenic drive, half-day hike, visit to the Chisos, etc. on the second day.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 09, 2013, 06:57:40 AM
Thanks for all the feedback! It's been super helpful in rescheduling our trip! Our plan is now to arrive in Terlingua on the 13th (late afternoon). The 14th we'll drive via the 170 to Sauceda and on the way we'll check out Closed Canyon and sights on the way.

Our original plan was to stay 2 full days in Terlingua and leave the 17th early for Carlsbad. Since we're staying at Sauceda instead it would be a really long (too long) drive to Carlsbad. Instead of staying 2 nights at Sauceda, we're staying for 1 night and stay at Fort Davis (Indian Lodge) the next night before heading to Carlsbad. 

Our preference would be to stay at Sauceda for 2 nights..but I think we would have to rush too much.

I've made reservations to stay at Sauceda for the 14th (1 night). We would like to see/hike Ojito Adentro and Cinco Tinajas. Could anyone give me some info on how long those hikes would take?

Thanks again!
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: RichardM on October 09, 2013, 09:46:56 AM
I've made reservations to stay at Sauceda for the 14th (1 night). We would like to see/hike Ojito Adentro and Cinco Tinajas. Could anyone give me some info on how long those hikes would take?
Ojito Adentro is a fairly short hike, maybe 2km round trip. How long it takes depends on how long you want to spend at the spring. Keep an eye out for Poison Oak.  :icon_wink:
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=29.486815,-104.065617&z=15&t=t2

For Cinco Tinajas, plan on at least 2 hours. There are a lot of things to see around there, so don't just stick to the trail. I have yet to get there, but I hear it's a great place to explore.
Cinco Tinajas is probably one of the most visited areas of BBRSP.  This is partly due to very easy access from the main park road - one of a limited number of features you can get to by car.  It is very pretty and definitely worth a stop.

From the parking area there is a short trail that will take you about 0.5 miles to an overlook of the tinajas.  From there you can follow a very faint route that will take you down to the upper tinaja, or you can backtrack to the main trail that will take you down to the lower portion.

My favorite time to visit is right at sunset.  I suggest parking and following the road just about 100 feet or so to the stream bed and following it down to the tinajas.  The glow off the surrounding canyon walls and reflections off the pools are very mystical.

If you are staying at Sauceda Station you can follow the creek bed that runs past the corral for just over a mile and it will take you directly to the upper tinaja.  The route is very easy until the very end where you may have to be creative to keep your feet dry.  This is another great evening trip - you may see many critters coming down to get a drink!

Here's my recommendations for day hikes:
On your way into the park, hit Ojito Adentro trail for a short walk into a cool spring.  Continue to Cinco tinajas which is short but very cool.  You can also backtrack off of cinco tinajas trail down to the wash and continue northwest through Leyva canyon to find some other water holes and take a longer hike.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Beatrice on October 09, 2013, 01:48:17 PM
I'm so happy that you'll be keeping the Chihuahuan desert on your itinerary! It really is a must-see going across the US.

If it were ME (well, if it were me, I'd go to Austin well before I went to Houston, but I'll stick to just the West Texas portion of the trip...)

So if it were me, I would leave Houston around 4:00 AM, eat chilaquiles famosas for breakfast at Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery when you arrive in San Antonio. Visit the Alamo when they open at 9 AM. (How can you drive past the Alamo on a cross-country tour of the US and not stop?!) Take a 35 minute river boat tour to see the sights and hear the history of San Antonio. It'll be about 11AM by this point, so head out to Boerne for some wine tasting and lunch. It's along the way and a great view of the Texas Hill Country. Then it's a 7+ hour drive to Terlingua where you can visit La Kiva when you arrive.

Get up in the morning, check out the Terlingua ghost town, then head out for an 8 AM float trip with Far Flung. If the national park is open by this point, opt for a full day canyon float trip. You'll see the beautiful national park and have a great story to tell about how you did so. And, bonus, this gets you starting and stopping at the west end of the park so you save several hours of driving and an extra night of hotel because it moves you closer to your target without sacrificing any experience. You'll leave from Terlingua around 5 PM.

If the national park is not open, do a half-day float on the Rio Grande, which is really about 2-2.5 hours. Once you're back about 10-10:30, drive down the River Road (one of the most scenic drives in the US), hike Closed Canyon, do whichever hikes are of interest to you at BBRSP like Ojito Adentro and/or Cinco Tinajas. You could also do a horseback or biking tour at this point. Choose whatever you most value and you won't feel at all gipped. You'll leave from Presidio around 5 PM, or earlier if you want to see the art around Marfa.

Head to Marfa for a quick dinner. It'd be a shame for you to be in that area on Tuesday the 15th (if I understood your schedule correctly) and not go to the McDonald Observatory's Tuesday night star party that starts at 8:15 PM. http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/calendar Check out the amazing clear night sky using their telescopes then go on to Indian Lodge for the night's sleep. Then it is only a short 3 hour drive to Carlsbad Caverns, which you can easily make the following morning.

That's what I'd do if it were me and I had those two days to make the best of while traveling from Houston to New Mexico without knowing if the national park would be open.
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: Maurits on October 11, 2013, 01:21:57 PM
I would like to thank all of you for your great support&advice! Because of this we're going to have a great experience in this part of Texas, I'm sure!

We'll have an early start tomorrow to catch our flight to Houston. When we'll be back I will write a trip report.

Again: Thanks!
Title: Re: 1st time Visitors from NL
Post by: kevint on October 11, 2013, 01:57:39 PM
I would like to thank all of you for your great support&advice! Because of this we're going to have a great experience in this part of Texas, I'm sure!

We'll have an early start tomorrow to catch our flight to Houston. When we'll be back I will write a trip report.

Again: Thanks!

We will enjoy your report thoroughly. Have fun.