Big Bend Chat

Big Bend or Bust! => Suggested Itineraries => Topic started by: With Deacon on August 24, 2015, 09:34:55 AM

Title: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: With Deacon on August 24, 2015, 09:34:55 AM
I'm excited to report that our group of four is returning in Jan2016 for our 2nd trip to Big Bend.  We loved it so much this past January, that we decided to go again.

Here's what we did the last time around:

We arrived Thursday around midday, hiked a good chunk of Mule Ears, and watched the sunset at Homer Wilson's Ranch.

Friday, we did a canoe trip a few miles up Santa Elena Canyon and hiked around Indian Head Mtn in the evening.

Saturday,  we went to Boquillas Canyon, hiked Hot Springs, and took it easy a bit to get ready for our big hike on Sunday.

Sunday, we did South Rim, and Monday we went home (sadly).

For our 2nd visit, we've talked about exploring the State Park a bit and maybe doing the River Road as well as doing some of the desert hikes.

Any suggestions?  Our trip will be the exact same length this time around as well.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Imre on August 24, 2015, 09:52:33 AM
Dog Canyon and the Devil's Den come to mind.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: catz on August 24, 2015, 09:59:18 AM
Based on this, I'm assuming backpacking is not part of the plan.  Also, the state park takes considerable time to get to and is much more rugged than the National Park.  That said, there are some nice short day hikes there that are accessible to a normal passenger car.  Anything off the main entrance road will definitely require 4 wheel drive and high clearance.  Personally, I think you should save the state park for a trip of just a few days solely for itself.

River Road in the National Park, especially the western end, will likely require high clearance and possibly four wheel drive in spots.

Some excellent day hikes in the National Park:

--Lost Mine Peak

--Window Trail, including the short (but steep) turnoff up to the high point of the Oak Spring Trail 

--Pine Canyon (normally accessible by a regular passenger car if you take it very slowly after you turn off Glenn Spring Road)

--Top of Burro Mesa Pouroff

--Cattail Falls (normally accessible to a regular passenger car if you take it slowly)

--Starting at Homer Wilson, take the Dodson Trail to where it tops out and/or take the Blue Creek Trail through the hoodoos

--Mariscal Canyon Overlook (depending on road conditions, you might need high clearance to get to the trail head)

Trying to do all of these in 4 days is asking too much but I think you will be delighted with whichever ones of these you are able to fit in.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 24, 2015, 10:04:21 AM
Thanks Imre. Those are both on the initial list since we didn't get to that part of the park last time.

We should all have passports this time around for a crossing to Boquillas. Would either of those be doable in the morning with an afternoon in Boquillas? I haven't researched drive times yet of course.... Any other half-day hikes that might make more sense with a Boquillas crossing?

For a last day all day hike, would Marufo Vega be good, rather than doing the South Rim again?  Or is there another long day-hike I'm not thinking of?  Overnighters aren't really an option as we will all be flying and will therefore be restricted as far as gear.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 24, 2015, 10:19:22 AM
Based on this, I'm assuming backpacking is not part of the plan.  Also, the state park takes considerable time to get to and is much more rugged than the National Park.  That said, there are some nice short day hikes there that are accessible to a normal passenger car.  Anything off the main entrance road will definitely require 4 wheel drive and high clearance.  Personally, I think you should save the state park for a trip of just a few days solely for itself.

River Road in the National Park, especially the western end, will likely require high clearance and possibly four wheel drive in spots.

Definitely a full trip!! Thanks for the suggestions catz. A lot of those are on my "investigate" list too.

Am I correct that the River Road/FM 170 over by the State Park is paved accessible in a non 4x4 SUV?  We definitely don't plan to tackle it in the National Park, but I think I've heard good things about the road over that way as far as scenery.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Jalco on August 24, 2015, 10:56:31 AM
Based on this, I'm assuming backpacking is not part of the plan.  Also, the state park takes considerable time to get to and is much more rugged than the National Park.  That said, there are some nice short day hikes there that are accessible to a normal passenger car.  Anything off the main entrance road will definitely require 4 wheel drive and high clearance.  Personally, I think you should save the state park for a trip of just a few days solely for itself.

River Road in the National Park, especially the western end, will likely require high clearance and possibly four wheel drive in spots.

Definitely a full trip!! Thanks for the suggestions catz. A lot of those are on my "investigate" list too.

Am I correct that the River Road/FM 170 over by the State Park is paved accessible in a non 4x4 SUV?  We definitely don't plan to tackle it in the National Park, but I think I've heard good things about the road over that way as far as scenery.

FM170 is a paved road.  The portion between Lajitas and Redford is indeed scenic.  There are several state park trails easily accessible from it: Closed Canyon (a slot canyon leading down to the Rio Grande), Rancherias Canyon, Rancherias East/West trailheads.

I echo the remarks regarding visiting the other ("inland") parts of the state park.  It's a drive in itself just getting to the central headquarters area.  The state park merits a dedicated trip, in my opinion.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 24, 2015, 11:03:34 AM
Based on this, I'm assuming backpacking is not part of the plan.  Also, the state park takes considerable time to get to and is much more rugged than the National Park.  That said, there are some nice short day hikes there that are accessible to a normal passenger car.  Anything off the main entrance road will definitely require 4 wheel drive and high clearance.  Personally, I think you should save the state park for a trip of just a few days solely for itself.

River Road in the National Park, especially the western end, will likely require high clearance and possibly four wheel drive in spots.

Definitely a full trip!! Thanks for the suggestions catz. A lot of those are on my "investigate" list too.

Am I correct that the River Road/FM 170 over by the State Park is paved accessible in a non 4x4 SUV?  We definitely don't plan to tackle it in the National Park, but I think I've heard good things about the road over that way as far as scenery.

FM170 is a paved road.  The portion between Lajitas and Redford is indeed scenic.  There are several state park trails easily accessible from it: Closed Canyon (a slot canyon leading down to the Rio Grande), Rancherias Canyon, Rancherias East/West trailheads.

I echo the remarks regarding visiting the other ("inland") parts of the state park.  It's a drive in itself just getting to the central headquarters area.  The state park merits a dedicated trip, in my opinion.
Perfect. Thanks Jalco. Then perhaps we can make a day of the drive and the side hikes you mentioned.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: mule ears on August 24, 2015, 01:12:47 PM
Thanks Imre. Those are both on the initial list since we didn't get to that part of the park last time.

We should all have passports this time around for a crossing to Boquillas. Would either of those be doable in the morning with an afternoon in Boquillas? I haven't researched drive times yet of course.... Any other half-day hikes that might make more sense with a Boquillas crossing?

For a last day all day hike, would Marufo Vega be good, rather than doing the South Rim again?  Or is there another long day-hike I'm not thinking of?  Overnighters aren't really an option as we will all be flying and will therefore be restricted as far as gear.

You could certainly do either Dog Canyon or Devils Den as a hike before going to Boquillas but they are best done together as they are so close to each other or done as a loop like this thread (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/el-saloacuten/dog-canyon-caves-8150/msg78915/#msg78915).  It is an hours drive from the Dog Canyon/Devils Den trailhead to the Boquillas Crossing.

You could do Ernst Tinaja before heading to Boquillas.

You can do Marufo Vega, the entire loop, in a day if you get going early, it will be a long day like the south rim.  Or you could do it out to the Split Rock campsite and back.  Another one on that side of the park is Banta Shut-In but it takes a bit more route finding but is just as long a day.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: bam.bam on August 25, 2015, 09:43:14 AM
Deacon, you might want to play with the google map a little bit and just consider driving the river rd( FM-170) see if your time allows for  this (Midland to Balmorhea, to Fort Davis,to Marfa to Presidio to Terlingua to west park  entrance). Adds a couple of hour but the terrain you will be seeing will be WOW vs so so...FM-170 also takes you by the state park. I would not miss out on driving the FM170 river road at least once... imho
PS stop at the ice house in Lajitas for soft drinks and fresh sandwiches, there in the boonies but she has unbelievably fresh lunches..
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 25, 2015, 09:57:04 AM
Thanks bam.bam. We were actually just discussing that this morning. We will all be flying into ELP and driving to Alpine for the night before hitting the park. We figured we can do the small 30 minute backtrack to 67 in Marfa and then head down that way, since we didn't do that on our first trip.  That saves us from an out and back drive from Study Butte, where we will be staying.

And thanks for the alternates mule ears.  I'll investigate those too.

I also came across an outfitter that offers a 6 hour day hike from the resort in Lajitas to the top of Mesa de Anguila.  Would this hike be worth it as a day hike? I was under the impression that Mesa de Anguila was an isolated multi-day trek, but perhaps that's if you take it all the way to Santa Elena?  Not sure we want a guided hike per se, but is the hike to the Mesa alone worth it?
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: catz on August 25, 2015, 10:31:13 AM

I also came across an outfitter that offers a 6 hour day hike from the resort in Lajitas to the top of Mesa de Anguila.  Would this hike be worth it as a day hike? I was under the impression that Mesa de Anguila was an isolated multi-day trek, but perhaps that's if you take it all the way to Santa Elena?  Not sure we want a guided hike per se, but is the hike to the Mesa alone worth it?

To answer your question, no, I don't think so.  Although it is interesting and very remote, to really get the most out of the Mesa you need to get to the Santa Elena overlook.  That is not possible as a day hike. You have so many other possibilities that I would concentrate on them.

If you decide you want to go up on the Mesa, you don't need a guide, either.  The trail up is very straight forward:  you can clearly see the slot up onto the Mesa from the trail head (near the golf course parking lot).  The ascent begins after about a mile-long trek across open desert.  The ascent is very steep but relatively short (you may not realize how steep it is until you come back down).  Once on top, it has many ups and downs, but is quite easy to follow until beyond Canyon Flag, which is about halfway across the Mesa.  Take plenty of water.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 25, 2015, 10:39:41 AM
Perfect. Thank you catz. That was my feeling on the subject, but second guessed a bit when I saw the day hike mentioned. Another trip perhaps....
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: With Deacon on August 25, 2015, 01:55:49 PM
Thanks to everyone on this forum for being so helpful.  We spend more time on sports forums, which are very often *the worst.*

Anyway, even though I have another exciting trip coming up in just about 3 weeks, I am already anxious for our return to Big Bend!
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 25, 2015, 03:18:14 PM
Thanks to everyone on this forum for being so helpful.  We spend more time on sports forums, which are very often *the worst.*

Anyway, even though I have another exciting trip coming up in just about 3 weeks, I am already anxious for our return to Big Bend!
So much this. Thanks for all of the insight on the forum. This is easily the most civil message board I have encountered and the most willing to help.  Even though I'm nearly 2,000 miles away, this has kept me connected since I joined in January and ready to roll on our second trip.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: bam.bam on August 26, 2015, 03:48:59 PM
Deacon, do you know of El Cosmico in Marfa. you can camp there, rent a   tent or rent  one of many 1940'ish Spartan Trailers that have been restored to perfection.  Nice restaurants at the end of the street also. Its not as much of a party town as alpine but its nice. Sometimes they have a live band, we happened to get to enjoy an unplanned visit by the Shivering Tembers whom were touring the area and needed a place to stay, so the played,,Most of their business is return customers so that tells you something....
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on August 27, 2015, 07:51:04 AM
Thanks bam.bam. I have seen El Cosmico and it looks like a neat spot, but unfortunately we have 4 and it seems their trailers can only accommodate 3.

We stayed at the Best Western, which I guess is now a Quality Inn, in Alpine this past January and found it fit our needs (a bed for each of us), was super-affordable when splitting the two rooms, and gave us a good night's sleep before hitting the outdoors.  We are all flying from various spots on the East Coast with connections, so ultimately we wind up getting in pretty late, so just being able to crash in a comfortable room is all we need.

And for full disclosure, we also want to get donuts from Baker's Dozen in Alpine again, so there's that too.... Priorities.....

The quick trip back to Marfa in the morning won't bother us too much as once we get on 67, it will be all new roads for us.

I am truly just as excited, if not more, as I was for our first trip.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Talusman on August 27, 2015, 02:08:25 PM
Depending on when you are in Alpine, go visit the Big Bend Brewing Company and get a quick tour of the place. You usually can taste all they have going so you know what you want before you get a beer at the Chisos Mountain Lodge! Driving into Big Bend after a morning tour at the Brewery can be kind of fun! Taste Test Responsibly!
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: With Deacon on August 27, 2015, 03:06:24 PM
I'm a non-drinker so I'll be #donutwasted but otherwise sober.

Good advice, though, since last year when we were all sober, I managed to talk DD into turning the headlights off on the car for about 0.3 seconds to see how dark it was.

Dark is the answer.  Very dark.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Don H on August 27, 2015, 04:19:42 PM
Leave your lights off for about 5 min or so and let your eyes adjust - you'll be surprised at how light it is from the stars/moon.  Very 'catlike'
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on September 04, 2015, 10:33:37 AM
In checking out FM-170, I see that there is a route from Marfa (2810/Pinto Canyon Rd) that takes you down to Ruidosa, where you can pick up FM-170 and take that down into Presidio and beyond.

Is that extra mileage from Ruidosa to Presidio worth it in scenery, or should we just take 67 down into Presidio?  How is 2810/Pinto Canyon in terms of road surface if you've done it? We will have a rental SUV without 4x4.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Geezer on September 04, 2015, 10:43:48 PM
There are several threads on this site about Pinto Canyon Rd. Just search for "Pinto Canyon Road" and they'll turn up.

Geezer
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on December 01, 2015, 12:32:18 PM
Silly question here, but if we do a Marufo Vega dayhike and decide not to descend to all the way to the river, do we still get a view of the river along the way to the split? I've seen mention of Randell's, but I doubt that's a dayhike (please correct me if wrong) and I'm not sure we're really up for wayfinding too much.

How strenuous is the descent to and the climb back from the river? I realize it's a totally different environment, but is the footing comparable to the Pinnacles? One of us has had a recent ankle injury and quite frankly I don't fully trust my knee.

I guess I'm just trying to determine if the scenery is worth the effort if we only go as far as the split or wherever the descent begins? I realize that is obviously subjective and I'm probably inclined to think ANYTHING is worth the effort just because of where we are, but I'm trying to gauge what we would get to see along the way. Two of us are interested in photography, one of us likes the adventure, and all of us probably just want some GD peace and quiet!

And this trip is mid-January as a reminder.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Reece on December 01, 2015, 04:36:40 PM
Here's a screen grab from Google Earth showing the length and elevation profile for the hike to Randell's Overlook.
It is unmatched for a cliff's edge view of the Rio Grande. It's ~2.5 miles to the turn off and the off-trail portion is ~1 mile. You could easily track it with an iPhone GPS app.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-g5x_BXRm-3Y/Vl4dZ_MsrQI/AAAAAAAACko/85ZcQxC0gds/w851-h712-no/Route%2Bto%2BRandell%2527s%2Bcopy.jpg)
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: jssmith57 on December 01, 2015, 04:50:34 PM
For those who have been to Randell's overlook, are there any flat areas up there for a tent or two?
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: mule ears on December 01, 2015, 04:57:01 PM
For those who have been to Randell's overlook, are there any flat areas up there for a tent or two?

Not really.  It is mostly rough limestone and sharp plants.  A few bare spots that the burros have wallowed out but not big.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: jssmith57 on December 01, 2015, 06:07:39 PM
Thanks M.E.
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on December 02, 2015, 11:23:34 AM
Here's a screen grab from Google Earth showing the length and elevation profile for the hike to Randell's Overlook.
It is unmatched for a cliff's edge view of the Rio Grande. It's ~2.5 miles to the turn off and the off-trail portion is ~1 mile. You could easily track it with an iPhone GPS app.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-g5x_BXRm-3Y/Vl4dZ_MsrQI/AAAAAAAACko/85ZcQxC0gds/w851-h712-no/Route%2Bto%2BRandell%2527s%2Bcopy.jpg)
Thanks Reece! That's great. I didn't realize it was that close to the trailhead.  That might change some itinerary planning...
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Demon Deacon on January 11, 2016, 11:34:32 AM
Thanks to everyone for the help in planning our return trip. I am pleased to report that With Deacon and I will be making our triumphant return this week along with some other friends.  We'll get to the park Thursday and leave Monday morning.  If you are in the area and see these guys out and about, please say hello.

(https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8674/16198153569_070c8d6ba1_k.jpg)Group shot overlooking the Mule Ears (https://flic.kr/p/qFnLHP) by AndrewNewton (https://www.flickr.com/people/36417924@N00/)

As for itinerary, here's what we've come up with as a rough plan.  This is not necessarily the order, as the timing may be ambitious for at least the first day, but hopefully this is close.

Thursday
Closed Canyon (in BBRSP on the way down from Alpine/Marfa)
Dorgan-Sublett (if there's time)
Chimneys
Lower Burro
Homer Wilson

Friday
Lost Mine
Cattail Falls
Upper Burro
TJ Avery's workshop at 9 pm (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/national-park-news/free-astrophotography-workshop-jan-15-2016/)

Saturday
Marufo Vega (with side hike to Randell's)
Indian Head

Sunday
Devil's Den (or Dog)
Boquillas Crossing
Whatever else we couldn't get to or want to revisit from our first trip
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: With Deacon on January 11, 2016, 11:48:21 AM
So pumped for this trip!

Thanks to everyone on this forum for your help and friendliness!
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Casa Grande on January 11, 2016, 04:56:15 PM
I don't know, you guys might be biting off more than you can chew.  There will be a lot of drive time in between locations that's going to eat you up.  You might want to see about modifying the locations so they are in a little cluster.   The drive time could eat into several hours and with this limited amount of light we have, I'm just not sure about that.   

Of course, I never get to everything I plan, so who am I to judge!


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Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: With Deacon on January 11, 2016, 09:06:17 PM
I don't think we are too worried about checking off the full list.  We just want to have a game plan each day with options so that we can audible on the fly and also so we don't just sit around trying to figure out what we want to do every day.

Our goals are:

1) Get away from the stress of our daily lives
2) Hang out with good friends
3) Hike
4) See some amazing sights
5) Eat at Starlight :-)
Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Casa Grande on January 11, 2016, 09:55:27 PM


1) Get away from the stress of our daily lives
2) Hang out with good friends
3) Hike
4) See some amazing sights
5) Eat at Starlight :-)

And that is my itinerary every time.  You sound like my kinda guys to go with.  ;)


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Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: Reece on January 16, 2016, 06:13:25 AM
Bring your passports...


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Title: Re: 2nd Trip Must Dos or Suggestions?
Post by: dprather on January 16, 2016, 07:29:26 AM
Stargazing - try an evening on the porch of the old hotel at the Hot Springs.