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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Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019

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Offline GearedUp

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Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« on: July 10, 2019, 10:30:54 PM »
Looking to spend a few days out in Big Bend over Thanksgiving this year and looking for some suggestions/input from the pros!
So far the plan is to head to BB from San Antonio after work on Wednesday before the holiday and stay through Sunday.  My girlfriend is in the Army so unfortunately we have to work around a more rigid leave schedule.
I'm the ultra outdoorsy experienced backpacker/hiker/camper and she has the bug but still not quiet as experienced.  If it were just me I'd be doing the Outer Loop and some of the additional, shorter trails perhaps.  I want it to be a good experience for the both of us, so I'm happy to meet at a good medium.
One option is renting an RV (can be done affordably through Outdoorsy) for a comfortable drive out and maybe a night or two in the RV, with some back country camping after some hiking of course, before headed back to the RV (where ever we can park it).
The other option is no RV, just get a room for the nights she wants 4 walls an a roof overhead (haha), but still get perhaps two nights out under the stars. 

Looking for suggested areas to hit, are permits required, etc... trying to book this all Well in advance so it doesnt fall though!


Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 11:28:38 PM »
Thanksgiving week is a busy time for the park, and I'd expect every campsite, hotel room and other reservable accommodation to be occupied during that week. Many people coming to the region for Thanksgiving will already be there when you arrive on Wednesday.* One key is flexibility. Another is reserving that room (and that "room" can be a variety of things in the Terlingua area, like yurts and old school buses) now. A third is zone camping, which fits more into the "nights out under the stars" category, but that requires you getting a permit once you arrive. Some backcountry sites may still be available when you get there, so that's also an option.

If you're hiking and camping in the backcountry, you'll need a permit. Backcountry camping sites may be available, and, again, flexibility is key. Zone permits will be available. You could, for example, camp in the flats below Mule Ears Peaks and explore the western Sierra Quemada.

Let us know what really interests you, and what you realistically think is that "good medium" and we'll have better suggestions for you.

* I spent Easter 2018 in the park, camped in the Basin. On Friday of that week, someone driving through the campground asked how I got such a great camping spot for Easter weekend. "I got here on Sunday."
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


Offline mule ears

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Re: Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 06:21:40 AM »
Welcome to BBC GearedUp!

Jeff is right on with his advice and especially flexibility.  A little hard to tell but I assume you will be there 4 days leaving on Sunday.  Also hard to tell if she wants to camp or not between "she has the bug but still not quiet as experienced" and " she wants 4 walls and a roof overhead" but I would try and split it with one or two nights under the stars and the others in a room if you can get one.  Start now and get that reservation done.  The hardest will be the lodge in the Basin, then you will have to try motels and such in Terlingua/Study Butte.  We usually stay at Chisos Mining Co., cheap, basic but convenient to the park. 

I assume you have the camping equipment so I would do one or more roadside campsites that a passenger car can get to unless you have a higher clearance vehicle.  Maybe one night on the east side of the park and one on the west.  Here is the backcountry roadside campsite page note that she will have to poop in a hole out in the wilds and pack out the toilet paper.  These sites only have a tent pad and a bear box for food.  Here is the board on BBC with reviews of those sites.

You have to have permits for those sites too and they only give them up to 24 hours before so get to the visitor center first thing in the morning if you don't get there early enough Wednesday afternoon and see what is available.  Good luck.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 06:34:04 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water


Offline BlindWilly

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Re: Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2019, 09:44:28 AM »
There is always the State Park.
They have that bunk house at the Sauceda Station.
Or if I may, there is the privately owned Los Alamos Ranch just north of the state park on Casa Piedra road.  The owners are fantastic!
They have both camping and a small Casita.  From there you can drive into the park and hike a variety of trails.
Typically the State Park isn't as busy.
"No matter where you go, there you are"
-Buckaroo Bonzai


Offline LinuxGeek28

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Re: Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 11:28:52 AM »
Friday is usually opening day for Mule deer season.  Check the BBRSP website for hunting closures before making plans.


Offline Keepa

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Re: Big Bend Thanksgiving 2019
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2019, 11:53:23 AM »
On a gastronomic note, the Starlight Theater in Terlingua serves a delicious Thanksgiving Turkey dinner.  I have been there twice on Thanksgiving.

The park will be very busy and full of people.  You may luck out with camp sites if you are there in the VERY early morning on Thursday. The remote backcountry campsites will generally be available, but you will need a high clearance vehicle for some of them. For motel accommodation, the Chisos Mining Company motel is my favorite. You can reserve your room now, it should be available this early.



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