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Old 02-27-2017, 05:00 PM   #1
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2016 27' Flying Cloud
Olympia , Washington
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Recommendations for Big Bend Park?

Dear Streamers,

My son is completing his first 4-yr hitch in the Army JAG Corps at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio (defending in Courts martial enlisted men accused of sexual assault; this is not quite where I expected my son to be and what I expected my son to be doing as a vocation, but he likes criminal defense and that's where the Army has sent him and what the Army has asked him to do, oh my!). He's supposed to be transferred to Fort Hood, in Killeen, this July, this time to round out his experience and do criminal prosecution. In any event, we're leaving (from the Seattle area) in April to spend some time with him & see San Antonio.

Thereafter, I want to go to Big Bend Park, of which I've heard nothing but "It's great --- You gotta go!" comments. My research has turned up several RV parks in which to stay, but they're just names to me:

1. Chisos Basin and Cottonwood Campground, but websites say the road to Chisos is restricted to vehicles 25 ft or less, which rules us out, and neither of them has utilities, and given our NW proclivities, we'd like electricity for the possibility of using our air conditioner. Seattle rarely exceeds 80 degrees, so warm to us is 65-75 and hot is anything over 80. Will we melt in Big Bend in April??? Time will tell.

Regarding others, which have utilities:

2. Stillwell Store is just outside the northern entrance to the park, so we could park the AS there & tour Big Bend with the truck.

3. Rio Grande Village RV Park is down on the Rio Grand, across from Boquillas, Mexico, although it has only 25 hookup sites.

4. Big Bend Resort, in Terlingua, looks positive although we have no use for its resort features, golf, etc, and its prices are high.

5. BJ's RV Park and Study Butte RV Park are also in or near Terlingua & seem modest.

6. Maverick Ranch RV Park, in Lajitas, looks positive although it's a long drive away.

7. Are there others?


What are your recommendations for an RV Park in or near Big Bend with hookups & without paying an arm and a leg?

Are there any "must do" experiences that anyone visiting Big Bend just "must do" before heading home?

I would appreciate the benefit of your experience with your comments & recommendations.


Richard Wills
Woodinville, WA
Richard Wills, Olympia, WA --- WBCCI 8873, WL7Z
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:13 PM   #2
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We were just at Big Bend a few weeks ago and stayed at Rio Grande Village - the non hook up sites. There are sites there that are generator and non generator and full hookup sites on the other side. The full hookup sites are in a parking lot but with room to put an awning up. You may want air conditioning depending on what time in April you're going and if so, these sites would work.

One thing we did this time was to go over into Mexico. There's a border crossing in the park not too far from the rio grande campground. You pay to be taken across the river in a row boat, you can take a horse, burro or walk to the town a mile away. Not much there but we had a great lunch at the restaurant on the right. You'll need your passports and bring cash for tips and to buy things. There isn't much money there and they are very remote so tips are very appreciated.

I've heard April can be busy so get your reservations soon. Have fun!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:31 PM   #3
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Spicewood (W of Austin) , Texas
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Don't overlook the Big Bend STATE Park....which adjoins the Nat'l Park. The Saucedo ranch-house (State Park hqtrs) is not an RV park...but it is the original 1700's ranch house of the original owner. Families can book rooms in the main house, or the "bunk houses" to experience a real treat. Meals included. (IF you visit that ranch hdqtrs, notice the small cottonwood trees that stand like soldiers in-line in front of the bunkhouse. Those were originally fence-posts harvested from cottonwood trees on the river, and the posts took-root and grew! Also notice the use of "Ocotillo", a Chihuahuan desert succulent that grows in long stalks. They are commonly used for fencing also,... simply cut, then stuck into the ground where they root and continue to grow.... their nasty thorns will absolutely keep coyotes out of the chicken-yard and the "barking-wolves" (meaning of the word coyote) will not even attempt to burrow beneath due to the root structure. Quite a use of natural habitat that the original ranch owners used.

The state park also has areas to dry-camp. If you have a generator for your AC during the day... don't be surprised if you find you need a coat at night because the Chihuahuan desert gets quite chilly at night even in summer.

My wife and I toured thru Big Bend Parks last Sept. and dry-camped at the "Hoo-Doos"... a strange rock formation in the bend of the river. There was a pull-out with picnic tables and shelter, and we spent two days there never seeing another soul, except those who drove by on the paved highway a hundred yards away/below the hill we were on. Very solitary and relaxing, with hiking trails nearby.

Personally, I would not recommend going over the border at all.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:11 PM   #4
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When I get my Tradewind finished, the first place we're heading is Big Bend. I plan to stay in Rio Grand Village. The hot springs aren't far away and its a short drive up to the Chisos Basin (assuming you unhook your TV for the drive). I have been to Big Bend many times since the 1970s and have grown to love it. My main reason for going there has been to canoe the canyons, both in the park (Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas canyons) and just outside the park, running the 83 miles of the lower canyons from La Linda to Dryden. Santa Elena is a great canyon to float if your time is a little limited. There is a great camp spot at the rock slide rapids about half way through.

The hiking trails are also great, including the one to the window in the basin. The wildlife is abundant, as well.

A must-not-miss place is the Gage Hotel in Marathon, north of the park. Even if you don't stay there, the restaurant is a great place to get a civilized meal after a river trip and/or park visit.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:47 PM   #5
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We were just there last April, and stayed at Rio Grande Village. Can't agree enough that Big Bend is well worth doing. April is about as late as you will want to be there, though. We had full hookups, and hardstand on which to park. Backing in is tight, though, when you have a couple of big rigs next door and across the way, but can be done with patience. There are no pull throughs to my knowledge. No experience with the other parks you mentioned.
While in the area, Don't miss the Gage Hotel, and the 12 Gage Restaurant in Marathon, Fort Davis and Mc Donald Observatory. Alpine is a good place to stay for a night or two. The Reata Restaurant has the best chicken fried steaks I've eaten, and the Hammond Hotel is worth a walk through. Marfa is pretty much a bust, except for a visit to the Paisano Hotel, where the crew stayed while filming "Giant."
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:05 PM   #6
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would love to help, but the only time there I camped with my daughters.
It was great trip. Gotta go 4 wheeling while you are there.
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:54 PM   #7
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This is our second year at the Maverick Ranch RV park. Totally love it. Spacious sites, friendly people. It is a long drive to national park, but it's adjacent to the state park and the incredible river drive. Ask for a site with afternoon shade
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:36 PM   #8
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Boxite - you are making me want to go down there this year! Thanks for the awesome reminder to go to the state park. It's like going to Arches Ntl Park in Utah and not going to Dead Horse state park - both are so worth the trip!
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Old 02-28-2017, 06:03 PM   #9
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You can also stay in Marathon at the Marathon Motel & RV Park. Basic gravel parking lot, but FHU, and cable, if you care. They have a lovely courtyard. In addition to the 12 Gage restaurant at The Gage, you can also eat in the White Buffalo Bar. Great burger, nachos, etc. Limited services in Marathon, but Alpine is 30 miles away and has a serviceable grocery store, Porter's. From Marathon it is about 70 miles to park HQ. Remember that this is West Texas, and everything is far apart.
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Old 02-28-2017, 07:41 PM   #10
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We stayed in Fort Stockton and drove down three times. Make for a fairly long day, but the overall cost was less. We would leave about 6:15 or so, so it was light by the time we got there, then headed home about 3:30. That was this past Christmas. There is little cell coverage in that area, and we wanted to visit with the kids and grandkids, so that's way we were that far away.

We did some hiking and drove one road that let me put the Jeep in 4WD to exercise it. There are several trails that require 4WD. I'm not experienced with that, so we elected to skip those for now. Someday I'd like to drive one of those with someone who actually knows what he is doing.

Be sure to have your camera ready all the time.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:10 PM   #11
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Big Bend RANCH State Park (BBRSP).

My husband and I were back country veterans of both prior to buying our Interstate. We will not return to the Big Bend National Park any time soon because they don't allow dogs except in very limited areas (and I'll hold my tongue on that point). Big Bend Ranch is wonderful, is underutilized, and is very accommodating. However, full services are rare both in and outside the park. My advice is to plan and reserve very carefully. It's not like you'll be looking at a selection of Plan Bs in that area.

Weather is extremely variable at that time of year - plan for everything from freezing to triple digits. We hiked and camped out in BBRSP in the third week of March 2011 and the high temps were around 105 degrees during that interval. Unseasonably warm, but that happens - and we've had an abnormally warm winter this year.

This view is very typical of BBRSP. We estimated that we went as far as eight miles from the nearest utility or other human being.

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Old 02-28-2017, 08:56 PM   #12
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We stayed at Maverick Ranch for a week in early January. It was wonderful. We drove to Big Bend to view, hike and enjoy. Magnificent! Not too far to drive from Maverick. Great facilities, full hookups, met wonderful people from all over who come every winter. We will go back.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rothse99 View Post
This is our second year at the Maverick Ranch RV park. Totally love it. Spacious sites, friendly people. It is a long drive to national park, but it's adjacent to the state park and the incredible river drive. Ask for a site with afternoon shade
We stayed at Maverick Ranch as well this past September. A little pricey, but a nice campground, friendly and helpful staff and nice facilities. Great hiking at Big Bend: Lost Mine Trail, Balanced Rock and both canyon hikes are well worth the time.
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:08 PM   #14
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I may simply be repeating what others have said, somewhat. We have stayed at Big Bend Resorts and Adventures a couple of times, and it's neither adventuresome, nor a resort. Dirt spaces, I would gauge the experience to be adequate at best. I have driven through Maverick Ranch at Lajitas in the past, and will be staying there next week. It is a little expensive, but they get Great reviews from those who stay there. You'll have to judge what's most important to you. There is much to do within Big Bend national Park, especially the numerous hiking trails, so taking the time to go to Mexico at the Boquillos crossing is a waste of time and money in our opinion.
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:39 PM   #15
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Big Bend Resorts, they have a Motel, gas station, Mom and pop restaurant, and a RV park with full hook ups, nothing fancy but it is close to Big Bend National Park and if you are interested the state park as well. This is a desert, you are not going to find much grass so be ready for dust if the wind blows (a normal event in this area of the world). Folks are friendly and the food is good in the restaurant. We are heading out there in April,
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:14 PM   #16
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We stayed at Maverick Ranch in Lajitas in October 2016. A great place - highly recommended. Too far? Remember the drive to Big Bend is a long one although a rewarding one. Good luck
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Old 03-01-2017, 08:06 AM   #17
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Consider the Basin as a side trip if you can get accommodations for a couple of nights. It is a whole different high desert environment. Unfortunately most people who RV don't get a chance to experience this area. After several visits to Big Bend in the 1970's (including canoeing the Rio Grand) Mom and I planned our 3 day backpacking trip on the South Rim Trail in the Chios Mts. We rented a cabin in the Basin for a week and shepherded 6 kids along the trail to see the best vistas in the park. We made several side hikes and saddled up the kids for a horseback trip in the basin before we left. Accommodations in the Basin are very limited but give it a try.
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