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.

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All screwed up...

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Offline jasonbass

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All screwed up...
« on: January 07, 2010, 12:56:34 PM »
so i thought i had a good grip on what i wanted to do in big bend till i came here to this forum, and now i cant even come up with a plan!!  so much stuff to see and do has made my mind jumbled.  i am gonna be there for 5 days, 4 nights.  its my first time so obv. things like the Maxell Drive and possibly the south rim, but that leaves three days!  what would you do??

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Offline RichardM

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2010, 01:43:48 PM »
Assuming you have a high clearance vehicle, try spending a day driving River Road, stopping at the Mariscal Mines and other places. Hike out to the Mariscal Canyon rim. For another day (or at least part of one), head over to Rio Grande Village and hit the nature trail, Boquillas Canyon, and Hot Springs trails. Drive up Old Ore Road and hike to Ernst Tinaja. If your vehicle is up for it, continue on up Old Ore and finish off with Dagger Flat Auto Trail. Hike Pine Canyon. Lots of other short(ish) day hikes can fill another day such as Grapevine Hills, Cattail Falls, Chimneys, Mule Ears Spring, Blue Canyon at least to the Red Rocks section, Upper Burro Mesa & Lower Burro Mesa, Burro Spring, Tuff Canyon, Indian Head, Lost Mine Trail, Window Trail, Santa Elena Canyon, plus another dozen or so I'm forgetting....

Buy a Trip Planner package (or whichever individual items are of interest) and maybe a copy of Laurence Parent's Hiking Big Bend National Park for descriptions of most of the available hikes.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2010, 02:24:52 PM »
To make good recommendations, we need to know what you're interested in, fitness level, whether you're willing to do overnight or multi-night backpacking, desert hiking experience level, and, as RichardM notes, your vehicle's capabilities.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2010, 02:33:46 PM »
And what was your original plan before this board screwed it up?
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Robert

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2010, 02:41:37 PM »
Resign yourself that you won't be able to see or do everything in one trip. For a 5 day, 4 night trip you have 3 full days in the park. On each of these full days confine yourself to a specific area of the park such as 1) Basin/mtns 2) Ross Maxwell Drive to Santa Elena 3) Panther Junction to Boquillas. Then pick a couple of activities that you can do in each of these areas depending on your interest and ability. This leaves you with the first day to arrive and stop at the Visitor Center and get settled in, maybe a short hike close to where you are staying. The last day leave open to something that caught your eye while you were there.

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Offline sandersmr

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 03:59:35 PM »
We just spent 5 days in the park (see Newb's Driving Tour in the Trip Reports).  If you want to drive - Ross Maxwell, Old Maverick Road, Castalon, over to Boquillos Canyon, Old Ore and Glenn Springs Road were my favorites.  I liked going from Glenn Springs Road over to Mariscal Mines on River Road, but the east side of River Road was really my least favorite, except in a couple of places.  We didn't do west of Mariscal Mines.

I also liked driving Paint Gap out through the pass to the old ranch, but the road through the pass was rough.
Six years between trips - way too long.

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Offline jasonbass

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 05:13:52 PM »
To make good recommendations, we need to know what you're interested in, fitness level, whether you're willing to do overnight or multi-night backpacking, desert hiking experience level, and, as RichardM notes, your vehicle's capabilities.
my suv is high clearance but not 4x4, but i have never had a problem with it anywhere, the only problem is i am drivng from PA so it has to make it back!  the lady and I are in good shape both in our twentys, and very interested in overnight camping, but no multi-night hikes, i dont really want to have to worry about water.  i originally wanted to stay for only three days, and the other three days in GUMO.  so figured i would do the chisos, the desert and then the river, all one day each, but i would rather spend five here and only one or two in GUMO.  i really want to be isolated, canyons, big desert vistas, and sunset/sunrises. possibly thought about summiting mount emory. hope that can give u a clue so u can give me one!!

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Offline jim2

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 05:42:59 PM »
do you have the book Hiking big bend? it might help you decide what to do first.First trip should include the south rim , lost mine and the window. do the lost mine in the morning ,the window in the afternoon,while on the window trail take the oak spring cuttoff to an amazing view.catch the sunset on the o.s. cutoff.that's two days worth. do some of the hikes off r.m.s. drive. ward spring, upper burro mesa pour off, cattail falls,  catch the sunset in blue creek canyon in the red rocks section.pine canyon is one of the most beautiful hikes in the park. i used Hiking big bend to plan all of our early trips to park, and still do.try to keep your hikes close together, the park is so big you could spend a lot of time driving. if you hike the western side of the dodson up to the saddle i think you'll like the view.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2010, 07:07:24 PM »
my suv is high clearance but not 4x4, but i have never had a problem with it anywhere, the only problem is i am drivng from PA so it has to make it back!  the lady and I are in good shape both in our twentys, and very interested in overnight camping, but no multi-night hikes, i dont really want to have to worry about water.  i originally wanted to stay for only three days, and the other three days in GUMO.  so figured i would do the chisos, the desert and then the river, all one day each, but i would rather spend five here and only one or two in GUMO.  i really want to be isolated, canyons, big desert vistas, and sunset/sunrises. possibly thought about summiting mount emory. hope that can give u a clue so u can give me one!!

It's an awful long way from Big Bend to the Guadalupe Mountains. They may look close together, but it will take upwards of 6 hours to get there. Personally, I'd either split it 3-3 or go 6-0.

This assumes a mid- to late-afternoon arrival on the first day.

DAY 1
Arrive. Go to Panther Junction for permits. Get campsite at Grapevine Hills. Sunset hike to Rock Window and back.

DAY 2
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Dayhikes to Mule Ears Spring (or beyond, to escarpment above Smoky Creek), Chimneys and Santa Elena Canyon. Explore other pull-outs. Sotol Vista for sunset. Go back to campsite at GH.

DAY 3
Drive to Basin. Dayhike Lost Mine Trail in morning. Lunch @ Basin. Drive to Rio Grande Village, exploring pull-outs. Shower at RGV and resupply for camping. Head partway up Old Ore Road to camp near Ernst Tinaja. Explore the Tinaja area.

DAY 4
Head back to Basin. Backpack overnighter to South Rim.

DAY 5
Return to trailhead. Either leave (per your 5 day, 4 night plan) OR head over to Study Butte for shower and grub. Camp near western side of park OR stay in Terlingua. Visit the local hot spots.

DAY 6
Leave via Alpine OR drive the FM 170 along the Rio Grande to Presidio, hiking Closed Canyon, then leave from Presidio via Marfa, Fort Davis, and Balmorhea.

Any night I list a backroad campsite, you can always zone camp, gather up your gear and hike 1-2 miles in any direction and set up in the desert.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jasonbass

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010, 07:48:31 PM »
my suv is high clearance but not 4x4, but i have never had a problem with it anywhere, the only problem is i am drivng from PA so it has to make it back!  the lady and I are in good shape both in our twentys, and very interested in overnight camping, but no multi-night hikes, i dont really want to have to worry about water.  i originally wanted to stay for only three days, and the other three days in GUMO.  so figured i would do the chisos, the desert and then the river, all one day each, but i would rather spend five here and only one or two in GUMO.  i really want to be isolated, canyons, big desert vistas, and sunset/sunrises. possibly thought about summiting mount emory. hope that can give u a clue so u can give me one!!

It's an awful long way from Big Bend to the Guadalupe Mountains. They may look close together, but it will take upwards of 6 hours to get there. Personally, I'd either split it 3-3 or go 6-0.

This assumes a mid- to late-afternoon arrival on the first day.

DAY 1
Arrive. Go to Panther Junction for permits. Get campsite at Grapevine Hills. Sunset hike to Rock Window and back.

DAY 2
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Dayhikes to Mule Ears Spring (or beyond, to escarpment above Smoky Creek), Chimneys and Santa Elena Canyon. Explore other pull-outs. Sotol Vista for sunset. Go back to campsite at GH.

DAY 3
Drive to Basin. Dayhike Lost Mine Trail in morning. Lunch @ Basin. Drive to Rio Grande Village, exploring pull-outs. Shower at RGV and resupply for camping. Head partway up Old Ore Road to camp near Ernst Tinaja. Explore the Tinaja area.

DAY 4
Head back to Basin. Backpack overnighter to South Rim.

DAY 5
Return to trailhead. Either leave (per your 5 day, 4 night plan) OR head over to Study Butte for shower and grub. Camp near western side of park OR stay in Terlingua. Visit the local hot spots.

DAY 6
Leave via Alpine OR drive the FM 170 along the Rio Grande to Presidio, hiking Closed Canyon, then leave from Presidio via Marfa, Fort Davis, and Balmorhea.

Any night I list a backroad campsite, you can always zone camp, gather up your gear and hike 1-2 miles in any direction and set up in the desert.


that sounds like a great start.  you have pretty much hit the nail on the head. what about hiking at painted gap?? i saw some pictures that sparked an interest, or was it just good photography?   i know GUMO isnt terribly close but i am heading up to GUMO, Carlsbad Caverns White Sands and Taos ski valley for a 18 day trip, 4 days driving time to/from philly.  i was thinking about heading out 170 to Presidio and up 67 to the davis mountains (118) and up to gumo to hike Gaudalupe peak trail (in two seperate days).  so all in all it looks like

two days drive to big bend
5 days in park (arrive early am)
1 day drive to GUMO
1 day hike Gaud Peak
1 day Carlsbad Cavern
1/2 day drive, 1/2 day White Sands NM
1 day drive to taos
2 days in taos
2 days drive home.

that gives me a day and a half unaccounted for for anything that might pop up (ie, weather)  how does this sound, or is there anything in between that might be of interest?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 07:55:39 PM by jasonbass »

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Online elhombre

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010, 08:35:47 PM »
If you get up at day break, you can hike Guadalupe peak and easily be done with the tent in the car by noon.  Carlsbad is 3 hours max walking around the entire Big Room path.  There is a New Mexico state park south of Alamagorta called "Orel something" or something like that.  They have showers there.  With out too much trouble, you can get a bunch done in one day to free up another in BB.  If you go to White Sands to see the sands only, I would think you would be ready to go after 2 hours.  Last time I went, we also spent a couple of hours at the space museum right next to park. 

If you have more time in Guadalupe Mountains, walk McKittrick canyon.  Seeing the canyon and climbing the peak is about all a person can see without committing to a backpacking trip on top, or full day hike up Dog canyon.

Finally, if you stay at a campsite out in the desert, make sure you leave time to enjoy the afternoon-evening just sitting.  Too many people come to BB, run around and hike all day, and end up listening to people snore in the campsite beside them.  I believe most people miss the quiet, true experience the desert has to offer.
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oldfatman

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 01:01:55 PM »
My old fat man opinion is all the suggestions are moving way too fast to really enjoy the visit at Bibe, Gumo or the Davis mountains in between.

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Offline Interceptor

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2010, 01:48:42 PM »
Jason:

You've gotten some really good advice on places to go and things to do.  Let me give one more suggestion: If you can find a way, drive the Pinto Canyon Road from Marfa to Ruidosa.  You don't need 4X4, but you'll be grateful for higher clearence.  If you google "pinto canyon road" you'll find some picturees that give a sense of the dramatic beauty of the area.

Good Luck!

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Offline Undertaker

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2010, 03:35:17 PM »
I agree with oldfatman, slow down smell the flowers and maybe take a second trip another time.
Visiting BB since 1966, nothing like being lost and finding heaven.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: All screwed up...
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2010, 05:23:53 PM »
I agree with oldfatman, slow down smell the flowers and maybe take a second trip another time.

Agreed. I've been out there almost two dozen times in the last 10 years and feel like I'm just getting started. :icon_biggrin:

One thing to keep in mind, regardless of how much or little you try to do each day: it ALWAYS takes longer to drive somewhere than you believe it will.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

 


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