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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March 12 - 16 Backcountry Zone Campin'

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Offline tjavery

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March 12 - 16 Backcountry Zone Campin'
« on: March 08, 2007, 07:50:01 AM »
Our trip is almost here! It's like waiting for Christmas as a kid. I'm counting the seconds now...

My wife and I should be in Panther Junction about 10:30 - 11am Monday (Mar. 12). (If I can just manage to dodge the strep throat and flu that are making their rounds here at work)

I have no firm plans as of yet. I have a wish list put together of low desert areas to zone camp. We'll finalize our itinerary at PJ when we know for sure what's still open for camping. We're fully prepared that the park will be ripe with spring breakers and all backcountry sites will be taken (we'll just completely stay away from the Basin - that will be packed!).

Our general schedule:

- Sunday (Mar. 11): leave Houston, drive to Del Rio, spend night at mother-in-law's
- Monday: drive to BBNP early, arrive 10:30 - 11am
- Monday - Thursday: 4 nights zone camping
- Friday: wake up early and drive back to Houston

Zone Campin': Here's our wish list for overnight hikes or easy areas (zones) to make camp (we're only staying 4 nights):

- Ward Spring
- Dominguez Springs
- Devil's Den (south to the start of the canyon - the "real" dagger flats)
- somewhere near the intersection of Ross Maxwell Drive and River Road West (Cerro Castellan) *
- somewhere southeast of Dugout Wells, or perhaps close to the Tornillo Creek bridge *
- near Talley (Mariscal Canyon)
- somewhere between Santa Elena and Terlingua Abajo *

* note that this will be zone camping - in these cases, I'm planning to just park the truck along the road, hike the required 1/2 mile and make camp. We'll need a spot like this for our last night because we expect to break camp, pack up, and leave relatively early for the drive back home.

** if any backcountry site is still available when we "check in", we might consider that as opposed to the general zone camping as described above, particularly for the last night.

During the day: For our general hikes and attractions, well that will be chosen after our nights are secured. I'd like my wife to see some of the west side of the park since she's not been south of Sam Nail Ranch yet.

- Santa Elena Canyon
- a long drive down Ross Maxwell in the afternoon (Sotol Vista, Mule Ears Viewpoint, etc.)
- Maverick Road (and all the attractions along the way)
- Burro Mesa Pouroff
- naked romp at the Hot Springs at midnight  :shock: (just kidding - we should be dead tired after dark)
- Tuff Canyon
- Indian Head Springs
- late afternoon and early morning exploring of whatever area we camp
- at least two trips to Rio Grande Village for a shower

Suggestions?
I realize it's difficult to plan this sort of trip, but we're planning out a load of options so that we're ready to finalize things with the rangers at PJ. I hope they're patient :D

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Offline jeffblaylock

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March 12 - 16 Backcountry Zone Campin'
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 08:37:44 AM »
Make sure you take the hike to the Chimneys from the Ross Maxwell Drive. Very, very cool place.



There's also a great vista at the "end" of the Mule Ears Spring trail which gives a grand look of the Smoky Creek area.



If getting away early on the last day is a goal, consider zone camping off the North Rosillos Road. NO ONE uses that part of the park, and it's a pretty quick departure (although Nine Point Draw campsite is even quicker).

If you're focusing on the west side, then driving all the way to RGV for a shower and back is going to eat up a lot of daylight.

But you've got the right overall idea: Be Flexible. It's one of the few weeks when many things aren't available that are otherwise shoo-ins to get.

Have fun!
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

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Offline tjavery

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March 12 - 16 Backcountry Zone Campin'
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 12:51:10 PM »
Thanks for the great advice, Jeff! I appreciate it. I will certainly consider all of the above.

Quote from: "jeffblaylock"
...If you're focusing on the west side, then driving all the way to RGV for a shower and back is going to eat up a lot of daylight...


Yep, but my wife has the condition that we take a shower once a day. I'm hoping, with enough baby wipes, that we can maybe skip one day :D We'll see...

I'd go without a shower, but truth be told, I'm not sure I can even stand myself. It's the goat-barf-air-pootie stench that makes it rough  :shock:

Anyway, we'll "work in" trips to RGV so we don't just eat up time traveling straight from one end of the park to the other.

 


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