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Mike and Carol

Big Bend National Park - Texas

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We spent last week visiting Big Bend National Park.  It's one of the least visited National Parks and is somewhat off the beaten path.  From Fort Stockton on I-10 you head south for about 3 hours.  It is on the Rio Grande with Mexico in sight all the time.  Even with the hot weather (low 70's at night, high 90's during the day) we had a great time.  Lots of hiking, great views and no crowds!  At times we felt like we were the only ones there.

 

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It's a fairly large park, bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

 

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This is at the end of the Boquillas Canyon hike.  The bluff is in Mexico.  This is where the Rio Grande enters a huge canyon that's been carved out of the mountain.

 

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After a hike to the top of the second highest peak (7550') this is the view down.  It's called the Lost Mine Trail.  Views are great all the way up and it's a nice little workout!  We sat at the top and had some snacks and water while enjoying the view.

 

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At the other end of the park (western end) is the Santa Helena Canyon.  Mexico on the left, US on the right.  The upper water flow is the Rio Grande, the lower (muddy) is the Terlingua Creek emptying into the Rio Grande.  You can wade through the Terlingua to the bluffs on the right and then climb up about a quarter of the way to a lookout platform.

 

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Another nice hike was Grapevine Hill.  It's not too far, a couple of miles through the desert then some light rock climbing up to this balanced rock.  Carol is enjoying the shade!  It was right at 100 degrees when we made this trek.

 

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This is the view from the balanced rock looking back down at where the path goes back to the start through the canyon.

 

We stayed in Lajitas, TX at a very nice, full hookup campground.  There are three RV parking areas in the park, one has full hook ups.  No reservations, first come, first served.  If we do it again we will look at staying inside the park.  None of the park RV areas were full.  Peak season is November through April, so it may be more crowded.  We think the Chisos Basin has the most scenic camping areas.  It is surrounded by the highest peaks and is close to the start of the Lost Mine Trail.

 

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Most importantly, bacon was consumed!

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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I have a good friend that used to live in Austin that did a canoe race each year down the Grande through Big Bend.  Great pictures!  I'm sure that Buzzy is licking the screen for that bacon.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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We visited there last December - it sounds like you guys enjoyed yourself as much as we did.  You're right about the crowds.  They have some peak weekends on the cooler holidays when the campgrounds will be full, but even then it's easy to get away.  It's definitely a winter trip since summer temps are very high.  Most of the backcountry campsites would be easily accessible with an Ollie so if you want to be out on your own then that's a good option. Some people will plan out a little trip around the park, staying at different backcountry sites each night.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Nice pics! This park is definitely on my bucket list, but I am seldom so far south....

 

Did you have any worries about bad guys crossing from Mexico? There are without dispute drugs coming through that area, though due to the remoteness, most go un-noticed and/or unreported.... How about bears and mountain lions?

 

Obviously the popular areas and normal campgrounds are pretty safe. Did you in any way feel uncomfortable parking and hiking in the remote areas, especially low down along the river or along the "4wd recommended" backcountry dirt routes? Did you carry bear spray or a handgun?

 

http://www.hellonearthblog.com/2013/05/big-bend-national-park-drug-war.html

 

The BBNP website has a warning page about these concerns, but like all National Parks, it tries very hard to downplay any risk to visitors ("look big and wave your arms, throw rocks or sticks"). It more or less just says to be vigilant and report any problems. As if your cell phone will work at the bottom of a remote canyon.

 

I'm not a big worrier, but I am a "just in case" preparer.....

 

Thanks.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Speaking for myself, I didn't consider any of those dangers to be worth worrying too much about.  We did see some black bear tracks in the snow on one of our hikes up around Chisos, but that's it.  I think mountain lion sightings are few and far between, like years between.  The locals didn't bother us either.  They seem to come and go as they please down by the river and I saw no effort to prevent them from doing so.  Just people dropping off trinkets for sale.  You'll pass by a border patrol station on the way in and will probably have to stop on the way out while the pups do their sniffing.  It's a big place, and the roads cover the tiniest fraction, so my guess is that any illegal activity would take place far from campers.  I think on their website, they list a few backcountry campsites that are prone to theft or vandalism mainly due to their location on the edge of the park.  But those wouldn't be the prime campsites anyway.

 

Speaking of the park's size, getting from place to place can take time.  It's worse if you've chosen a campsite that's far down one of the gravel roads.  There are a few roads that are short wheelbase 4wd only, and a few, like the one that takes you to the cool rock in the photo above, that are smooth and regularly maintained.  But most are somewhere in between, maintained decently enough but not regularly graded - think Subaru level  So on those roads you'll travel at a snail's pace to and from. We stayed at the first campsite down Pine Canyon, and I think that hit the tradeoff between remoteness and proximity to the main road pretty well.

 

One more thing - Chisos is pretty well protected, but everywhere else in the park the wind can be relentless.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I can smell the bacon.


Current 2007 Airstream Classic Limited 31


2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II (Sold)


2016 Ram 2500 HD 6.7i Cummins turbo diesel


 

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I really appreciate all of these posts and the information about Big Bend. I plan to visit the park in January 2017. The information and photos are very helpful. Looks like a good place to escape to when the weather is frigid and snowy in Iowa!

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Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Wow thanks for posting that!! I would really like to get down that way eventually as I hear the birding is excellent in the Park. It's 5 days from my place so will have to blend it in to a larger trip.

 

I'm wondering if you stayed at the Chisos Basin CG. From your hikes that would seem the case. The Park recommends trailers no longer than 20 feet on the road to the CG, so I am wondering how your Elite 2 navigated the tight turns. Our Elite tows so tight to our TV that it just amazes me. I feel like I could take it anywhere, and I imagine that the larger Elite 2 tows just as well. Obviously you made it out to tell the tale! Thanks again for the pics and reminding me of this great place.

 

Dave


2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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John, I agree with overland, we felt pretty safe and secure.  We didn't see any bears or mountain lions, although we met a couple who was following us that did see a bear with some cubs crossing the path.  We saw a couple of these little critters hiking with us...

 

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We lived in southern Arizona just 9 miles from the border so we are used to the critters and animals as well as Mexicans hiking north.  At Big Bend we did encounter some Mexican citizens.  They like to paddle across the river and set up a small souvenir shop then paddle back.  They expect you will follow the honor system if you take anything, just put your dollars in the bucket.

 

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The clearing you see across the river is where they launch their boat.  When we got down to the Boquillas canyon the river is narrow and we exchanged "hola's" with the residents on the other side.  He asked if we wanted to hear some Mexican music, I declined but he started singing anyway.

 

Dave, we didn't stay in the Chisos Basin, but that is where I would start if we return.  I saw a few RV's that were longer than what they recommend parked there.  I wouldn't hesitate to pull my Oliver down there.

 

Don, I think you'll have cool weather in January but nothing like the midwest!

 

Buzzy, I knew you'd appreciate the sizzling bacon!

 

Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Thanks for your post, Ann and I plan to visit BBNP this winter as well. Leave CT in January and go to Everglades first the work our way west. Probably be in BB in mid February.

 

Thanks again.

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Grayson and Ann Cook


Northwest CT and Mid Coast Maine


2016 Oliver Elite II, Twin Bed FP


Toyota Tundra, Extra Cab, Long bed, 5.7 V8


Yippee-i-o-ki-yah

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Which Weber model grill is that? I was considering purchasing one but, they are all so similar. Also, did you get the flat grill in a local store? Many thanks.


Cash - AKA Sitting Bull


http://www.shot-in-texas.com

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The Weber is a Q1000. I removed the regulator so I could run it off the propane quick connect on the trailer. We got the flat grill pan on Amazon. I measured the top of the Weber and found one that fit. Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Fort Davis is another great State Park in SW Texas.  Close to the Macdonald observatory where you can attend a nightly Star party.  The actual fort is a National Park and well worth a visit.


Current 2007 Airstream Classic Limited 31


2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II (Sold)


2016 Ram 2500 HD 6.7i Cummins turbo diesel


 

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Looking to spend five weeks or so in South Texas in Jan/Feb 2018.  Will base camp near Mission, with a couple of trips out to Texas Parks. Big Bend definately on the list!


Mike and Elizabeth Smith


Snow Lake Shores, MS


2016 Ford F150 3.5 EB, max tow (20,900  miles pulling Ollie since Sept 2016)


 


 

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If you go during a holiday like spring break be ready for major crowds!  My family all met there the last weekend during spring break and we could not get in to places to eat and the trails were crowded.  We camped in Terlingua and they had record heat so most of our activities were before noon each day.  It is a beautiful park.  I also highly recommend going up to the McDonald Observatory which has one of the darkest night skies.


Dallas, Texas


Legacy Elite II  Hull #77


Toyota Tundra Crew Max 1794

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Mike and Elizabeth,

 

I spent some time in Texas in January and February this year and loved it! Highlights were Big Bend NP, Guadalupe Mountains NP, Marfa, the McDonald Observatory, Palo Verde Canyon SP and a couple of other state parks. I'll try to email my journal entries to you.

 

Don


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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