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Thoughts on first visit next week with kids

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Offline Altuve

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Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« on: March 05, 2018, 11:26:35 AM »
Hello, thanks to everyone for the wonderful insight!  Visiting next week with my wife and kids.  My wife and I have hiked many times, but never in BB.  This will be the first time hiking for my kids, ages 8 and 11.  We've tried to start early with getting them interested, got scat charts, whistles, maps, and invited them to help us plan out things.  Got them small backpacks as well. 

Wondering how to make the most of our trip, and would appreciate any suggestions.  Here's what I have so far:

Friday, 3/9:  Drive from Houston to Chisos Mountain Lodge, arrive in the evening.  Dinner and then sleep.

Saturday, 3/10: 
7:30 am ish, breakfast at Chisos
8:30 am ish, Lost Mine Trail (not sure if we'll do the whole thing)
11:30 am, pack and check out of hotel
noon:  Drive RMSD
3 pm:  Hike Santa Elena Canyon
4:30 pm:  Head to Lajitas and check in to hotel, dinner at Lajitas

Sunday:
8 am:  Canoe reservations with Far Flung
noonish:  Lunch
Afternoon:  My wife is a big birder, wondering it there is a particular place to go for best bird watching

Monday:  Drive to Marfa, check into hotel; have tickets to the observatory in the afternoon and star party in the evening.

Thanks!

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2018, 12:21:59 PM »
Hello, thanks to everyone for the wonderful insight!  Visiting next week with my wife and kids.  My wife and I have hiked many times, but never in BB.  This will be the first time hiking for my kids, ages 8 and 11.  We've tried to start early with getting them interested, got scat charts, whistles, maps, and invited them to help us plan out things.  Got them small backpacks as well. 

Wondering how to make the most of our trip, and would appreciate any suggestions.  Here's what I have so far:

Friday, 3/9:  Drive from Houston to Chisos Mountain Lodge, arrive in the evening.  Dinner and then sleep.

Saturday, 3/10: 
7:30 am ish, breakfast at Chisos
8:30 am ish, Lost Mine Trail (not sure if we'll do the whole thing)
11:30 am, pack and check out of hotel
noon:  Drive RMSD
3 pm:  Hike Santa Elena Canyon
4:30 pm:  Head to Lajitas and check in to hotel, dinner at Lajitas

Sunday:
8 am:  Canoe reservations with Far Flung
noonish:  Lunch
Afternoon:  My wife is a big birder, wondering it there is a particular place to go for best bird watching

Monday:  Drive to Marfa, check into hotel; have tickets to the observatory in the afternoon and star party in the evening.

Thanks!

I think you did a good job of putting together a family-generated itinerary that hits most of the highlights (mountains, vistas, canyons, river, stars). The only thing you've missed is a desert outing, but that's a bit tougher with kids. 

If 11:30am check-out from the Lodge is mandatory (I can't remember), you might want to check-out before your Lost Mine hike. That would give you the option to continue all the way to the top if you want, rather than feeling time pressure to get back to the Lodge for check-out.  The three-hours you've planned for the RMSD is more than enough to get a sense of it. If it were my family, I'd complete the Lost Mine trail to the top, then drive the RMSD as eye candy.  Since you're planning on canoeing the river the next day, I'd put the mouth of Santa Elena in the category of eye candy - no need to hike the trail into it, just enjoy the view at the mouth. Use the time you've saved to explore a bit in the desert: maybe hike to Mule Ears Spring or the Upper or Lower Burro Mesa Pour-off. 

As far as birding, you're sort of in-between seasons. Not quite winter and not quite spring. Some of the best birding spots are out-of-reach during such a short, well-filled trip. But you might try stopping at the Sam Nail Ranch site off of the RMSD. The perennial water there always draws birds, especially if you are quiet and patient, and especially at dawn and dusk (you could hit it on the way out to Lajitas; it would be worth delaying your arrival at Lajitas to spend a little time at Sam Nail).

Best of luck. Hope the family has a great time!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline alanmalk

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2018, 04:41:43 PM »

Friday, 3/9:  Drive from Houston to Chisos Mountain Lodge, arrive in the evening.  Dinner and then sleep.

Saturday, 3/10: 
7:30 am ish, breakfast at Chisos
8:30 am ish, Lost Mine Trail (not sure if we'll do the whole thing)

One thing to keep in mind:  The parking for Lost Mine Trail is extremely limited and many folks are up here now.
Your best bet is to be first in line for breakfast and to get to the LMT parking lot asap.

--
Alan

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Offline congahead

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2018, 05:06:35 PM »
Your itinerary sounds great. The star party is a must (dress warm!)

I would consider eating in Terlingua instead of Lajitas. But with spring break, the crowds at Terlingua will be insane. At the very least, walk around the old graveyard for 10 minutes or so and check out the general store there.

Our first trip to Big Bend was over spring break when our boys were 9 and 7. It became our favorite place with so many wonderful family memories. Now they are 24 and 22 and we go back once or twice a year.

Hope you have a great trip!
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2018, 10:04:55 PM »
Cottonwood Campground, near Santa Elena, is a good birding spot. I always see Vermillion Flycatchers and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers there. Its closed right now but I don't know if that means you can't walk in and look around. Also, the cooling pond near the trading post in Lajitas is supposed to be good but I've never checked it out. Lost Mine trail usually has some birds too - Mexican Jays, Black tufted Titmice. Around the parking lot and the paved Window loop walk in the basin also are good spots - Sayes Phoebe, Canyon Towhee, Cactus Wrens.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2018, 10:56:36 PM »
Cottonwood Campground, near Santa Elena, is a good birding spot. I always see Vermillion Flycatchers and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers there. Its closed right now but I don't know if that means you can't walk in and look around. Also, the cooling pond near the trading post in Lajitas is supposed to be good but I've never checked it out. Lost Mine trail usually has some birds too - Mexican Jays, Black tufted Titmice. Around the parking lot and the paved Window loop walk in the basin also are good spots - Sayes Phoebe, Canyon Towhee, Cactus Wrens.

Alan's birding recommendations are good ones. As is Alanmalk's advice on the Lost Mine parking lot. That said, I'd still recommend you check out of the Lodge first so you don't worry about getting back before the check-out deadline. But that means really getting up and going early that morning.  You only live once.  :dance:
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 09:16:58 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Thoughts on first visit next week with kids
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2018, 07:40:18 AM »

To get a desert experience in, I'd do like someone said and just see Santa Elena from the viewing spots and not hike the trail, and instead do Chimneys.  Short hike across flat desert and you get to see some Native American stuff.

Or even shorter but I think kids would like would be Tuff Canyon.  That crack in the wall is like a cave that my kids would enjoy getting in.

 


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