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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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Late March 1st timers, Tin Valley, 4x4 and Primitive Camping Advice

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Offline Bafowler

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Trying to plan for a late March trip. The plan so far is:
-2 nights at Tin Valley:
• Exploring day hikes any recommended?
•maybe a kayake tour? Any recommended?
• And for sure some primitive road exploring. I have a stock 4x4 Tundra with some decent tires that are made for dirt roads BUT I’m worried about clearance. Anyone know of concerning areas I should stay away from and/or places I should def drive?
-2 nights primitive camping:
•We have done once before with experienced backpackers in Cali, but this will be our first alone. Any recommendations on trails/hikes?
•Last day back to Tin Valley and on the way out exploring Marfa.


Offline Slimkitty

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Late March 1st timers, Tin Valley, 4x4 and Primitive Camping Advice
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 03:26:20 PM »
I have a 2013 stock Tundra 4x4 that did great on the backroads at the park.  I think the dates you are headed out there will be among the busiest of the year. Having your truck will really help you get away from the more crowded areas.  Make sure you’ve got a good spare with you.  While I would never use it in a normal situation, out there a can of fix-a-flat can be your savior.  Also be prepared for your truck to brush past prickly plants aplenty. You may earn a few minor “pinstripes” along the way.  Wear them with pride!  And if you really want to be prepared, you can buy a reliable portable air pump.  I just recently purchased (received as a gift, actually) a viair pump that connects directly to the car’s battery.  I believe it was around $120 and has the power to fully inflate my tires pretty quickly.  Keep in mind that any off-road driving will be pretty slow going.  Think 5-15 mph most of the way. 
If I were you, I’d get up early one morning and head straight towards the Chisos basin to hit the Lost Mine trail.  Once done there, drive down to Santa Elena Canyon on the  Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  Head back from Santa Elena on Old Maverick road, which is gravel but pretty well maintained by Big Bend standards.  It will take you right to the park’s main road near the west entrance, and you’ll be on your way back to Tin Valley.  The next day I’d get up early again and head down towards Rio Grande Village/Boquillas Canyon.  Take the river road turnoff and head west to Mariscal Mine.  In my opinion, if you’re in the park the first time and you have a vehicle to get there, you MUST visit the mine!  Once you’ve explored the mine ruins, double back to the main road and continue down to Boquillas Canyon.  If you have time and the inclination, maybe cross over to Boquillas, Mexico for a meal (passports required) before you head back to your lodging.  That’s my two cents.  I haven’t floated the river yet, but I bet it’ll be a bit busy around that time of year.  I can’t wait until I get a chance to float it though!

Sent from the future.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 03:34:41 PM by Slimkitty »


Offline rocketman

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Re: Late March 1st timers, Tin Valley, 4x4 and Primitive Camping Advice
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 06:05:47 PM »
If you're staying at Tin Valley, you can take a hike or drive up the Christmas Mountains just past the ranch lodge/HQ. You'll have to pay a refundable deposit for the gate key, but it might give you a different experience outside of the park. However, the Tundra might be too big to navigate the trail to the top unless you have lots of experience on tight mountain trails.

Slimkitty's suggestions for in-park fun are perfect for a first time trip to the Bend.
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!


Offline horns93

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Re: Late March 1st timers, Tin Valley, 4x4 and Primitive Camping Advice
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2018, 11:03:26 AM »
+1 on Slimkitty's suggestions

I started my day at Boquillas but travelled the length of the River Road to Castolon and I was at Santa Elena Canyon by late afternoon. I stopped every 15-30 minutes along the way for photographs plus an hour to hike and explore the Mariscal Mines, and a detour to Talley/Mariscal Canyon.  You can easily drive the length of the RR in 4-6 hours.

If I could do it over again I would start my day a little earlier at Boquillas Canyon (close to sunrise), take the River Road to the mines, dayhike to Mariscal Canyon (which I didn't have time to do), and then finish the afternoon at Santa Elena Canyon. You would have time to visit all three major river canyons in BBNP. From Santa Elena you can take the Old Maverick Road (very well maintained) out of the park towards Terlingua and where you're staying.

The River Road does have some hairier spots but I think your 4X4 Tundra should be able to handle it just fine.



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