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How to do Big Bend

by Homerman Online Now Sep 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Hi, we are looking at 3 or 4 days in Big Bend NP in late October, travelling from Houston and then onto Corpus Christi.

I have read quite a bit about the park but I'm still not sure which hikes/trails and areas are the best to visit in our short time there.

We aren't from the US and wont have access to camping equipment so will also have to find accommodation in the local proximity. We aren't worried about how many stars it may have.

I have read a little about rafting tours through Santa Elena Canyon and wonder if anyone can help with some advice as I believe the seasons will make a huge difference to water levels and general day time temperatures in the park.

We are moderately fit but no marathoners.

Wondering also about lead times for bookings on accom and rafting etc?

I know I'm asking a lot but we don't know much at all about the area. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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6 Answers
  • bocmaxima's Profile Photo

    Re: How to do Big Bend

    by bocmaxima Online Now Sep 13, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    So Houston -> Corpus Christi -> Big Bend? Keep in mind how long a drive it is from Corpus to Big Bend.

    There's only one hotel within the park at Big Bend: http://www.chisosmountainslodge.com/. For October 2011, you should book it now. It may already be full.
    It that fails, you can stay in Alpine or Marathon, both of which are a little over an hour's drive from the park boundary. I prefer Alpine. The Holland Hotel there is very nice. There is also a 4-star hotel in Marathon: http://www.gagehotel.com/. It's very nice but also very expensive. There are also a couple of places at Terlingua and Lajitas just outside the park, but can't recommend them.

    October should be a good time for rafting. A lot of the tours start outside of the park.

    For hiking, how much do you want to hike?

    There are a couple of nice, short trails that are absolutely worth doing: Santa Elena Canyon and Lost Mine. If you're up for something more involved, you can hike up to Emory Peak from the lodge. Very nice hike.

    Hope that helps.

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  • Re: How to do Big Bend

    by Homerman Online Now Sep 13, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    That's a great help thank you!

    We were pretty keen on hiking but I blew out my knee last year at Yosemite so have had to cut down the altitude of the hikes (too many stairs and switchbacks flare it up again).

    How difficult are the longer hikes...I take it that the temps will still be mid to high 90's at this time?

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  • Re: How to do Big Bend

    by Homerman Online Now Sep 13, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    BTW you were right, it is fully booked...oh well I'll look at the other places you recommended...

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  • bocmaxima's Profile Photo

    Re: How to do Big Bend

    by bocmaxima Online Now Sep 14, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Keep checking, because there are cancellations quite a bit. People book so far in advance that they often end up changing their whole trip later on. It's a really nice hotel in a perfect location.

    Good luck though.

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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Re: How to do Big Bend

    by KimberlyAnn Online Now Sep 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    The Chiso Basin area has some nice trails, and nice scenery. The window view trail is a very easy walk, about 1 mile in length.

    The Window trail hike is one of my my favorites, be sure to hike all the way to the window, where the trail dead ends at the top of a 200 foot water pour off ledge. It is a medium difficult trail, and you have a couple of options on how to walk it, depending on where you start from. The shortest route is 4.4 miles long. This is also in the Cisco Basin area, and you can pick up a map of the trail at the Cisco Basin Visitor center.

    About 6 miles east of Panther Junction, there is an easy half-mile loop trail with interpretive signs along the way that takes you through the shrub habitat Chihuahuan Desert. The signs will tell you about the various cacti that you will see.

    The Santa Elina Canyon is a 1.7 mile medium difficulty trail into the Canyon and is one of the more popular hikes.

    The Hot Springs Historic walk is an easy one quarter mile trail which takes you past the historic remains of the store/post office, the old motor lodge, the bath house remains, and a hot springs. If you wish you can take a soak in the hot springs, although it seems to vary, when we were there it was shallow with a lot of brown, slimy mud. But I understand it can be pretty nice.

    Near the Rio Grand Village, you will find a nature trail that is a .75 mile loop trail rated as an easy walk. There is a self-guiding booklet available at the trail head. You will pass through various environments, with a nice high view of the Rio Grand before you head back.

    We really enjoyed the Burro Mesa Trail, a short, easy, one-mile walk through a narrow box canyon, which ends at a cliff with a rounded half chute like formation that was cut into the cliff by rainwater.

    I have 21 things to do on my Big Bend Pages, so if you would like to see some of my other suggestions, or more details about the ones I have listed, you can check those out at "Big Bend National Park, Texas U.S.A." - Big Bend National Park by KimberlyAnn

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  • Irina80's Profile Photo

    Re: How to do Big Bend

    by Irina80 Online Now Sep 14, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    hate to be a party pooper but there may not be much of a scenery even in Chisos Mountains, Texas has been hammered down hard with fenomenal drought this year, we have not seen a decent rain since December, nature has suffered tremendously, there may not be anything left that is still green even in the Chisos and Rio Grande basin, there are extreme wildfires danger throughout, quite possibly current Rio Grande's water level is not good for rafting. Hoping badly it'll change by October, I love Big Bend, it hurts to see dying nature. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

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