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Your first day hiking (Basin to "east Dodson") is pretty ambitious. Maybe should try Basin to mid-Juniper; then mid-Juniper to Fresno Creek (where there's surely water); then Fresno Creek to Blue Creek campsites (very near the rim and less likely to be taken than one of the sites actually on the rim); then day hike the rim (leave your gear in the bear box), see the views and go back to the Basin via the Laguna Meadows trail.
For your free day (12/26), if you're planning to head towards RGV/Boquillas, you might also head up Old Ore Rd and hike in to see Ernst Tinaja. It's a short little walk into a canyon where there are some amazing rock folds and a large tinaja. There is also the Boquillas Canyon Trail, which is a nice easy walk into that canyon along the Rio Grande. You should be able to fill up a day doing those things on the east side of the park, including lunch in Mexico. Sounds like a great first time trip you have planned!
When we were there last month we asked for SW3, which was open, but there were only 2 of us. The Ranger said he could not give the site to only two people as it could accomodate more folks. Your mileage may vary!
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