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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first timer. need suggestions, please.

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Offline longhornpete

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first timer. need suggestions, please.
« on: September 13, 2007, 02:42:17 PM »
We will be making our first trip here at the beginnig of October. I've read a little bit on the board and definitely want to know more about the hot springs, good camp sites w/facilities, kayaking and good hikes.  We only have 3 days and would like to do some semi-challenging trails and see some excellent views.  We are in shape but not climbers.  THere is so much to do and I'm not sure yet where in the park we want to enter or spend time.  Any suggestions would be helpful. THanks!

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Offline presidio

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 03:13:15 PM »
We will be making our first trip here at the beginnig of October. We only have 3 days and would like to do some semi-challenging trails and see some excellent views.  THere is so much to do and I'm not sure yet where in the park we want to enter or spend time.  Any suggestions would be helpful. THanks!

Well, you can enter only via Marathon or Study Butte, and it matters not which one you use since you'll most likely traverse all the paved roads anyway. Pick the one nearest your approach so you get there quicker.

3 days? You probably will find that a large part of your time on the first trip will be spent driving roads and hiking the short, touristy stuff, so that you can experience as much as possible. If you are planning on return trips then doing the above will give you a good overview for future planning. If you are planning on only a single trip, then you will have seen the highlights.

Spend a night in the Basin campground, and one at either Rio Grande Village or Castolon. If you have a third night, try a backcountry roadside site.

Do something in the mountains, in the desert and along the river.

In no particular order of preference (but you will want to plan for a logical travel flow), see the following:

Window
Ernst Tinaja*
Mariscal Mine* (and Pine Canyon/Glenn Springs on the way)
Santa Elena Canyon/Castolon town site
Boquillas Canyon
Grapevine Hills
Lost Mine Trail
Nail Ranch
Dog Canyon/Devil's Den
Tuff Canyon
Burro Mesa Pouroff (lower...and maybe upper, too)
Hot Springs

*These locations may require a high clearance vehicle, depending on road conditions, your vehicle and/or your driving skills.

The Maverick Road on the west side is the only lengthy unpaved road that is maintained. You can use it to make a huge loop trip in the west half of the park. If you take the Maverick Rd, stop at Luna's Jacal and Terlingua Abaja.

You can do all the above in 3 days if you hustle. It will take you over the entire park. Get up before sunrise and retire after dark, not only for maximum usable time but to see the sun do its thing. You will be exhausted. You will get over it while savoring the trip back at home.

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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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BigBendHiker

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 07:54:46 PM »
Hi Longhornpete!
All great suggestions thus far...I would add the Chimney's Trail to the list.  It is a desert hike, but in October, would be OK to do, although I would still start early in the morning.  Even in October, the desert can get hot.  At the terminus of the trail, the Chimney's are neat to see, plus there are some petroglyphs on one of them.

Take lots of pictures and post a trip report.  We have not made it to BIBE this year, and the withdrawal is killin' me!  Your pictures and trip report will get me through!

BBH

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Offline jim2

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 09:30:09 PM »
be sure to stop and watch the sunset . the top of the oak spring cut off ,approached from the window or the oak spring trail  ( i prefer the second choice ) is a great spot to finish the day .  some other places to catch the sunset  , the basin , sotol vista , blue creek  in the red rocks . i 'm sure other will their favorites .  jim2

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Offline RichardM

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2007, 09:38:19 PM »
be sure to stop and watch the sunset . the top of the oak spring cut off ,approached from the window or the oak spring trail  ( i prefer the second choice ) is a great spot to finish the day .  some other places to catch the sunset  , the basin , sotol vista , blue creek  in the red rocks . i 'm sure other will their favorites .  jim2
I'll second the Oak Springs Trail for the sunset.  Hike back to the Basin via moonlight, if you can.

If you're camping at Rio Grande Village, head up the Nature Trail for one of the best sunset spots in the park.

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SHANEA

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2007, 10:23:13 PM »
be sure to stop and watch the sunset . the top of the oak spring cut off ,approached from the window or the oak spring trail  ( i prefer the second choice ) is a great spot to finish the day .  some other places to catch the sunset  , the basin , sotol vista , blue creek  in the red rocks . i 'm sure other will their favorites .  jim2
I'll second the Oak Springs Trail for the sunset.  Hike back to the Basin via moonlight, if you can.

If you're camping at Rio Grande Village, head up the Nature Trail for one of the best sunset spots in the park.

I don't know, I think over at the mine isn't too bad.  But, then again, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a "bad" sunset out there to be honest.  Now, sure, some are better than others, but, I certainly wouldn't go racing up to the basin if I was at RGV to just see the sunset, but, then again, I've never seen the sun set from oak spring trail, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.  :)   

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Offline RichardM

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 09:26:49 AM »
If you're camping at Rio Grande Village, head up the Nature Trail for one of the best sunset spots in the park.
Laurence Parent took one of the all-time great Big Bend sunset pics from the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail.  Check it out here.  The trail isn't very long and starts right at the edge of the campground.  I've only been there during the middle of the day (see pics here).

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Offline Sanjuro82

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 12:36:26 PM »
You can do a lot in three days.  I think you should try to experience the vastly different ecosystems that Big Bend offers.  Do a mountain hike, a river/canyon hike, and a desert hike.  I'd also suggest you pick up a copy of the Falcon Hiking Big Bend National Park book.
   

For the Mountain Hike I'd recommend the South Rim.  It's a classic that everyone should experience at least once in their life.  It will take all day, but it's worth it.  If you want something a little shorter than give the Lost Mine Trail a shot.  It's awesome as well.

You have lots of great choice for a Canyon Hike.  Devil's Den/Dog Canyon, Mariscal Canyon (my personal favorite), Boquillas Canyon, Santa Elena Canyon, Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff.  All are excellent!

As for a Desert Hike. I'd recommend  the Marufo Vega Trail, The Chimney Trail, Mule Ears, Ernst Tinaja

I can post more detail on any of the trails if you need them.

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Offline longhornpete

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 01:21:42 PM »
This is all very helpful.  Thanks for the book suggestion.  I've looked around and can't seem to find one really detailed map with all the trails y'all are mentioning, usually just a few of them, so I'll check out the book.  We want to do at least a half day of kayaking on the river.  I'm guessing the boat rental companies around will be able to help us decide where to go for that and what we'll need?

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Offline badknees

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 03:25:26 PM »
Everyone has put up a lot of great suggestions. I think you will quickly find the Bend is a very big place and you will be planning your second trip before you finish the first one.

My suggestions are as follows:

1. Are you camping? If so the Basin would be high on comfort level for weather.

2. So........ do the Window Trail, Oak Spring Trail, and Lost Mine Trail for a mountain taste, then catch Grapevine Hills and Balanced rock in the afternoon. Sunset through the window at the Basin group campground is OK. I would save the South Rim for a backpack trip later so you don't have to rush.

3. Drive to RGV and do Hot Spring (take a swimsuit and a towel) and Ernst Tinaja (if you have high clearance vehicle). Walk up to the 2nd tower of the old ore tramway. Check out the RGV nature trail amd Boquillas canyon trail. Maybe catch a shower in the village, Check out Dugout Wells on the way back to the Basin.

4. Do Sam Nail Ranch, Burro Mesa pouroff (lower side). Hike to Mule Ears Spring or as far as the start of the Smoky Creek trail, Check out Tuff Canyon, Castolon, and the Santa Elena Canyon nature trail. Catch sunset on the way back at Sotol Vista.


This leaves no kayak time but should give you an overview to plan your next 10 trips! :eusa_clap: This is a very big place and the itinerary above is probably close 150 miles of driving.


Only my opinion. Whatever you do you will not be disappointed.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 09:12:19 PM by RichardM »
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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 04:12:01 PM »
I would skip the Kayaking myself (and I am a kayaker) because with only 3 days it's going to cut seriously into your hiking/park time.  You need more than 3 days!   I don't know of any local guides that rent kayaks by the hour or 1/2 day but there might be some, mostly they are rafts and canoe's on guided trips of 1+ days, some of their routes have been closed recently due to flooding, road closures, etc..   But you may be able to do it - better call or email well ahead of time and count on it blowing an entire day regardless of time spent in the water.
The South Rim is the premier hike in Texas but count on it taking an entire day as a dayhike - it's probably better done as a 1-night backpack anyway so you can stop, relax, enjoy, and not be rushing to make miles.
The 1-mile Basin Loop is a nice short trail and can be done at night with flashlights but is probably best done during the daytime.
Regardless of what you choose I am sure you will have fun.  Just make sure you are properly prepared and have a list of "plan B's".   Remember the Park speed limit is 45mph not including stops so plan on leaving extra time between events to enjoy the drive and stop at the numerous roadside exhibits along the way.... TWWG

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chisos_muse

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 08:09:27 PM »
Welcome! :azn:
I would recommend these two items for first time planning:

http://bigbendbookstore.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=61

http://bigbendbookstore.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=385

The map will hold up on the trail too. It has all of the main trails plus a close up of the Chisos. I think the map and book will be plenty for your first time.
If you have specific questions, give the fine folks at BBNHA a call at 432-477-2236

Have a great time and don't ever rush there! :grin:

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Offline RichardM

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 08:30:20 PM »
If you're camping at Rio Grande Village, head up the Nature Trail for one of the best sunset spots in the park.
Laurence Parent took one of the all-time great Big Bend sunset pics from the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail.  Check it out here.  The trail isn't very long and starts right at the edge of the campground.  I've only been there during the middle of the day (see pics here).
I've got this poster shot from the trail by Laurence as well.

And while you're shopping at the BBNHA Bookstore, pick up the trip planner package as well.  :ranger:
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 08:34:22 PM by RichardM »

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Offline Desert Rat

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2007, 09:34:54 AM »
The map and book recommended by Chisos_Muse are both excellent suggestions.  They are both well worth the cost.

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Offline colorado

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Re: first timer. need suggestions, please.
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2007, 07:38:24 AM »
if you do decide on a day float, desert sports in terlingua rents both canoes and inflatable kayaks. they also offer shuttle service. http://www.desertsportstx.com

 


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