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.

+-Calendar for sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

First Visit - Planning vs Reality

  • 4 Replies

Offline Trailmux

  • Kangaroo Rat
  • *
  • 3
First Visit - Planning vs Reality
« on: March 07, 2018, 09:11:36 AM »
Alright, I've wanted to take this trip for a while but only just managed to get some time off from work for a short first visit.

This my introduction to Big Bend and based on what I learn, will plan some longer extended trips in the future.

Planning - Weather looks great this spring with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s forecast, no precipitation.
Reality - This might be a really, really busy time for the park and I hope there will be campsites available. My backup is to call the TPWD State Ranch park if Big Bend is full.

I'm heading out of Austin today after work for seven hours on the highway. I'll flank out in Alpine, TX at a hotel tonight to get some rest after the long drive, and then hit BBNP early Thursday morning and hope I can get a good primitive roadside camp site for two nights. My backup, if there are no camp sites available in BBNP, is to call the state ranch park and camp out there. I could potentially do a back country hike-in-to camp site but would prefer the roadside site this visit.

Planning - Jeep w 4wd, I have some recovery gear (shovel, traction ramps, tow strap, air compressor, full size spare and jack) just in case.
Reality - It's not a Wrangler, and I don't have all terrain tires on it, so I won't be rolling down Black Gap road this trip. I'm focused more on hiking this time around anyway.

(Thankfully, it seems the dirt/unmaintained roads in BBNP are reportedly more a problem after rains in general.)

Planning - Hiking plans will be adjusted depending on daylight and endurance. Will have plenty of water in a camelbak and a resupply of water in the Jeep at all times. Always carrying map, compass, basic first aid, etc.

Day 1 - Thursday (east & river):
Lost Mine Trail (5 mi round trip)
Hot Springs Trail (6 mi round trip)
Boquillas Canyon Trail (short)
Overlook Trail (short)

Day 2 - Friday (mountains):
South Rim loop (minus an east bit due to protections for falcon nesting season - est 12 - 13 mi)
-- Is it easier to descend on the Pinnacles trail when heading back to the basin trailhead in the afternoon?

Day 3 - Saturday (west and river):
Santa Elena Canyon (short)
Grapevine Hills to Balance Rock (2.2 mi)
Cattail Falls (short)
Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

And with that, I'll be on my way back out to clean up at a hotel in Fort Stockton, sleep well, and head back to Austin from there on Sunday so I won't miss any more work next week.

I think this is a pretty good schedule for a short weekend introductory trip. What do you think? What realities have I not planned for?


Online mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4462
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: First Visit - Planning vs Reality
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2018, 10:15:44 AM »
You should be pretty good, you are getting there before the big Texas school spring break crush, even though many other schools around the country have spring break this week too.  Get there as early as possible (Panther Junction opens at 8:30) so you have the best chance for campsites.  With the Jeep you will have more choice than others.

You will have high 80's low 90's so it will be hot on those afternoon hikes like Hot Springs trail.  The Cattail falls hike is now longer with having to start at the paved road.  Otherwise looks like a good intro trip!  Make sure you give us report when you get back.

Welcome to BBC!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water


Offline Hang10er

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 561
  • "Do what you want before it's too late"
Re: First Visit - Planning vs Reality
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2018, 01:50:47 PM »
For your itinerary I would look at one of the Grapevine Hills campsites.  They pretty central for when you want to go to the east side, then the Basin and obviously Grapevine Hills.  When you drive out Saturday, do the loop from Ross Maxwell to Santa Elena and then up Old Maverick and you can see Luna's Jacal.  Your vehicle will handle it fine.  Then you can do dinner in Terlingua before heading to that hotel. 

I'd even say skip Fort Stockton and stay in Alpine then you can hit Judge Roy Bean's place and see the Pecos River Bridge on Highway 90 on the way back.  I'd think the distance difference won't be too great.   


Online House Made of Dawn

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3079
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: First Visit - Planning vs Reality
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2018, 02:26:12 PM »
Looks good: a fun-filled, somewhat ambitious, but do-able itinerary. You'll get a dose of almost everything Big Bend has to offer. Given that you have a jeep, you should be able to find a decent campsite somewhere in Big Bend, which is good because BBRSP is a long, long way from Big Bend NP.  The drives back and forth from BBSRP and Big Bend NP would eat up a lot of time.  Hang10er's suggestion of Grapevine Hills as a base of operations is a good one.  Best of luck and have fun!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."


Offline congahead

  • Roadrunner
  • *
  • 78
Re: First Visit - Planning vs Reality
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2018, 08:07:39 PM »
Looks good. Regarding your question about day two, I always find it easier to go up Pinnacles and back down Laguna Meadow. The former is steeper and tough on knees going down. Hope you have a great trip!

Sent from my iPad using Big Bend Chat
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."



All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments