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Old 01-06-2008, 11:54 AM   #1
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Big Bend National Park

We will be spending some time in Texas in Mid Feb. starting at South Padre Isl.for a couple of weeks and moving on to Big Bend. Are there any sujestions on how many days it takes to see the park, and any other thoughts on what to do there.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:34 PM   #2
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We visited BB last Spring and can tell you: There are a lot of beautiful (desert) acres and it is really spread out! We stayed at the West entrance at Terlingua/Study Butte at the little campground closest to the Study Butte Mall. We stayed the first night at the other campground next to the restaurant, but it was crowded and very dusty. The one next to the mall is smaller and not as dusty. If you arrive early (before 11am), just take an open space and contact the smanager in the afternoon. He likes to sleep late and is a very cranky old codger if you wake him up, but very nice after he's gotten up and had a few cups of coffee.

We stayed 4 days and saw about everything we needed to see. Once inside the park there are roads going to all the different areas. After about 4 days it all starts looking the same. If you do the canyon float trip, that takes an extra day as well as seeing the surrounding area outside of the park. There are many parking overlooks where you can see a lot of beauty without having to walk great distances. The drive down along the river by the river campground is worth taking in for the canyon wall views. There is really not much to do there other than sightseeing.

Two unexpecteds for us:

One, we were there in March and it was already getting into the 90's.

Two, carry enough food to tide you over for your stay as the dining out opportunities there are virtually non-existant.

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip!
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Old 01-06-2008, 08:16 PM   #3
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We camped there in mid-October 2007, on our way back from the balloon fest in Albuquerque. We stayed in the park, first at Cottonwood CG, which we accessed from the West entrance, at Study Butte. This is dry camping only, primitive, and there were very few folks around. I live in the country, but I have never seen dark nights and stars the way we saw them there. There was a host turkey - very friendly but she lost interest when we refused to feed her. We stayed two nights - hot as hades, but dry heat, eh?

We then relocated to the Rio Grande Village CG on the East side, mostly for the chance to hookup and turn on the AC. Whew. We hiked and saw the sights and bought contraband (shhh) and left a day early because it was just too hot. But the park was starkly beauriful. Did I mention that the latter CG was hosted by road runners? We also heard rumors of javelinas close by, but didn't see them.

I'd recommend camping in the park, and day-tripping out to Terlingua - now there is a place at one of the ends of the earth.

As far as things to do - you have to be able to entertain yourself in one of the last great places.

Pat
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:21 PM   #4
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However long you stay, definitely go. BB is spectacular. This time of year, your chances are better of actually catching the desert in bloom, which is incredible. I highly recommend a visit to the gage hotel in Marathon, which is at the eastern (northern?) entrance to the park.

You should try to visit the tinajes (sp?) east of the basin. They're wells fed by hot springs. Just the ticket after a hike. We've seen javelina, bear (in the basin) coyote, fox, and had a loaf of bread stolen right off our picnic table by vultures.

If you visit in mid Feb, be advised that Lajitas hosts the Chihuahua Desert Classic, a mountain bike race that draws thousands. Camping space is at a premium within a 100 mile radius. Not sure if they still run the race, but it's work checking before you go.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:28 PM   #5
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Just did some checking; the mountain bike race is in Lajitas on the weekend of the 16th. It's worth seeing too, but you'll want to call ahead for a spot or be prepared to boondock. When I did that race in the late 90's, camping spots were usually reserved a year in advance for that weekend.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:31 PM   #6
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Big Bend "not to miss" sight

The Prada store in Marfa. Take a camera.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:35 PM   #7
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And the Marfa Mystery Lights!
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:54 PM   #8
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I was there years ago, came in from Marathon. You want to make sure you have a full load or gas then. At least when I was there, there just ain't no fuel in the park, and it is quite a round trip back out to Marathon.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:03 PM   #9
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Big Bend is gorgeous - and remote. The best campground in the park has no facilities, so my recommendation would be to go prepared to boondock. Load up on food, water, and bring a generator. Prepare like you are a two hour drive to the nearest facility - because you are. And include a trip into Study Butte. A few pics from our Thanksgiving trip in 2005... The Havelena's are friendly - not.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:23 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone BB sounds great. I did think that the park had one place that had hookups? We don't mind BDing though.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:10 AM   #11
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Where's the lynx? There's pictures of him/her at the Rio Grande Village CG general store. But we saw him in person when we were there. Had to do a double take when we first came upon him/her.
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:57 PM   #12
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I remember Big Bend well, from back in 1969. You don't have to hike too far to go into places that you would swear that no man has ever set foot in before (but don't do it without asking about smuggler's trails beforehand). I remember the burro ride across the Rio Grande into Boquillas, Mexico for an afternoon of stool riding at the cantina - it was actually a round trip and it cost 50 cents. I also remember the store at Study Butte with the big sign that said "Beer - $1.70 per six pack or $1.60 if you can prove you're 21". It was a great place to catch rattlesnakes out on the road at night and the extra funds from collecting them helped a poor college student pay for a semester of college. It is as close as you can get to wilderness in the lower 48.

Another good place to visit in the region is the Fort Davis State Park.
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:42 PM   #13
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Best route to Big Bend?

BB sounds like a great place to visit!

Any suggestions for the best route from Corpus Christi?

We're pulling our '96 34' . . .
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:13 PM   #14
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Cool

I haven't been on it for quite some time but I used to take US 90 out of San Antonio to either Marathon or Alpine, and then turn south.

Try to get some road information before you take it because this route isn't at the edge of the world, but you can see it from there.
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