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Big Bend National Park trip report


Big_Bend

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(Part 1 of 4)

 

 

Howdy ya'll...

 

This last Thanksgiving my family, friends and I returned for our annual trip out to Big Bend National Park. We've been going out there just about every year since 1979, since I was 15 years old. Back in the day my friends and I were in the Explorer Scouts going on scout campouts.. but we all grew up, made families.. and kept going back to BBNP every year. Its quite the tradition. I've now been out there over 30 times.. which is a bit considering its over 600 miles West from where I live in Houston. We love it out there.

 

My family & I we usually take the whole week of Thanksgiving off, but this year the wife & kids had work & school early in the week and wouldn't be able to arrive until Wednesday.. But I was lucky enough to have the whole week off, plus the Friday before that.. so I was able to leave on my BMW K1200GT 5 days before the rest of the family and get a nice head start on the trip.

 

Big Bend National Park is way out in West Texas, where the Rio Grande river makes a big bend. Its a huge park, very much out of the way from most travelers, one of the least visited National Parks in the country.

 

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Thursday night Nov 20 I was all packed up.

 

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I left that night and went to Austin to visit a friend. Friday morning I was on the road at 5am. A cold front was coming thru, it was very windy, temps in the upper 30s. Brr! I stopped at this rest area to put on more layers. I've heard others say the K12000S is the perfect sport-touring motorcycle.. I duno, can you carry this much gear on an S? I've got all my motorcycle stuff.. plus all my camping stuff.. plus all my backpacking gear, food, and more. I love my GT. :)

 

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And just like my big trip in May when I headed East, Bunny wanted to come along for this ride too.

 

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This

youtube video is great, it shows what its like to drive from Houston out to Big Bend and back. I stuck to the main interstates in order to get out there as fast as I could on Friday. I wanted to get there ASAP to hopefully grab a good campsite before the Thanksgiving crowds showed up.

 

These West Texas roads are sure nice for hauling ass on...

 

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I made it out to the park around 3:30 pm and went straight for Basin campsite #54, my favorite which I stayed in last year while on my West Coast road trip. Fortunately when I got there it was unoccupied woohoo!

 

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This would be my home for the next 5 nights. Later in the week when all the family & friends arrived we'd all move out to a group site I had reserved.

 

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Saturday morning Nov 22 I decided to ride around the park some, head out to Rio Grande Village. It was a beautiful day..

 

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For those who don't know.. yes BBNP is out in a desert, but in the middle of the park is a ring of mountains called the Chisos Mountain Basin. These mountains trap the rain and clouds and it can be quite forested in places.

 

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As you leave the Basin area and head out to the desert the terrain changes. Great motorcycle roads exist throughout the park.

 

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At Rio Grande Village I took a shower, then went on a hike up to the nature trail. This is the Rio Grande river, and that is Mexico on the other side. Mexico has some great mountains too.

 

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After the hiking I rode back up to the Basin.

 

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It was a nice day of riding and hiking. That afternoon my good friend Craig arrived and we would spend the next 3 days going on day hikes and an overnight backpacking trip up to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.

 

to be continued...

 

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(Part 2 of 4)

 

 

The Basin area has a bunch of excellent trails for hiking and backpacking. On Sunday Craig & I hiked up to the top of the Lost Mine Peak trail.

 

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Monday morning another friend Wayne joined us and the 3 of us went on an an overnight backpacking trip up to the South Rim in the Chisos mountains.

 

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Going on an overnight backpacking trip up to the South Rim is one of my all-time favorite endeavours. Its a 15 mile round trip hike with several thousand feet in elevation to climb. The first day was 7 miles practically all uphill, climbing up to the South Rim, which is a 2000' cliff that runs a few miles along the South side of the Chisos mountains. After a tough day of hiking we made it to our back-country campsite, then headed up to the Rim for a bunch of awesome views. I love it out there!

 

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A beautiful sunset that night. We had that whole SouthWest point on the Rim to ourselves.

 

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And a beautiful sunrise the next morning.

 

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Its a HUGE drop looking down those cliffs.

 

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Tuesday morning we packed up camp and started hiking back down to our main campsite back at the Basin, taking the scenic route all the way around the East side of the Rim.

 

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This is looking back across to the Lost Mine Peak which we climbed the previous Sunday.

 

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Coming down thru the Boot Canyon area.

 

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And then the final leg hiking back down the Pinnacles trail.

 

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Another excellent overnight backpacking trip up to the South Rim!

 

to be continued....

 

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(Part 3 of 4)

 

 

It was now Wednesday morning, and I hadn't ridden my GT since Craig arrived the previous Saturday. Time to go for a ride before the family arrived that evening. As often as I've been out to BBNP, I've hardly ever gone further West. I'd heard of Hwy 170, the River Road, which runs from Lajitas out to Presidio TX. I went to go check it out.

 

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The Rio Grande river had some massive floods a few months back.. and unfortunatley a few miles from Presidio the road was barricaded.

 

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Well I didn't feel like taking my GT on the dirt road.. so time to head back the way I came. What a great road!

 

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That evening the rest of the family & friends all arrived and we moved to Group Site O. Here are my two sons, Zach (18) and James (9). There were 12 of us total in the group site.

 

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The next day was Thanksgiving. A bunch of us headed down to Boquillas Canyon for a fun day hike.

 

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At the back of the canyon is a huge sand pile over one hundred feel tall against one of the cliffs. The winds in the canyon keep it going. Its -VERY- challenging to climb to the top.

 

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I'm about half way up, looking back down.

 

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A daughter of a friend is still trying to get to the top.

 

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My kids are already at the top. "C'mon dad you can make it!"

 

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I made it!

 

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My wife is one of those little specs back down by the river.

 

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Time to run back down, always fun!

 

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After that we went over to the Hot Springs for some excellent soaking in the 104 degree waters.

 

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That night we had a Thanksgiving feast back in camp. An excellent way to spend the day!! Staying home and watching football - who needs it. :)

 

 

to be continued....

 

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(Part 4 of 4)

 

Friday morning. Bunny made a new friend.

 

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My younger son turned 10 that day. He had never been on an overnight backpacking trip before... today was going to be his first.

 

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Bunny wanted to go backpacking too.

 

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We hiked up the Pinnacles trail in the Basin to our back-country campsite.. then we day hiked up to Mt. Emory.

 

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A fun night out in the wilderness. Hot soup on a cold night - yumm!!

 

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It got very cold that night, temps in the 30s. The next morning Saturday it was time to pack up and hike back down.

 

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It soon warmed up tho.

 

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A Javalina blocked the trail, but it eventually let us pass.

 

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Later that day the family and I drove over to Santa Elena canyon on the West side of the park and hiked around there some.

 

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More excellent motorcycle roads out at BBNP.

 

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Sunday morning everybody headed home. I got everything packed up and said goodbye for another year.

 

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Till next time...

 

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So yes try to make it out to Big Bend National Park if you get an opportunity. Its such a beautiful park with so many things to do, hikes to take, roads to ride on, sights to see. Just don't tell anyone about it - its kind of a secret. :)

 

 

Ya'll take care.. Allen

 

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3AM post, you're up late son!! Great pics. I'm going to have to check out that hot springs on the BMWST Big Bend Bash in March. I wasn't aware it existed. BB is indeed a beautiful place to see and very remote. Thanks for sharing

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Great report. Brings back memories when I spent two weeks on the river. Take a canoe or do the raft trip through the Santa Elena Canyon. This is the 'Rock Slide'.

 

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By celms

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Allen

Great pics and story. That was my trip 3.5 yrs. ago when I picked up my new to me 04 1150RT in Ft. Worth. BBNP was beautiful and I am so glad I went thru there. I have two identical pics as yours. In front of the Bear and Mountain lion sign and the Big Bend sign. It was worth every beautiful mile. As a matter of fact we were supposed to be there the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year but ended up not making it. Thanks for the great pics and memories. It truly is a beautiful park.

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Great pictures and ride recount. Love everything between Ft Davis and BB. We go to the Chisos Mtn Lodge every Oct/Nov and need to add some hiking next time.

Bill

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Great write-up. I rode through BBNP on my RT last May on my loop-of-the-US tour, but only got to spend a day and half there. I see now that I missed a lot, and now I'm going to have to go back!

 

Thanks for posting your trip experiences.

 

Jay

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Howdy everybody,

 

and thanks for the many kind words for my BBNP trip report. Its great to go out there.. and I try to encourage others to see how special it is if they have a chance.

 

 

I'm going to have to check out that hot springs on the BMWST Big Bend Bash in March. I wasn't aware it existed. BB is indeed a beautiful place to see and very remote. Thanks for sharing

 

Thx.. ya the Hot Springs is awesome! Nature's perfect outdoor hot tub. Its off the main road about 4 miles from Rio Grande Village... you then have to ride down a very rocky dirt road for 2 miles to get to the parking area, then hike about 1/2 a mile down thru the old historic town to get to the spring by the river. Definitely worth going to, very relaxing and refreshing and the perfect hot temperature.

 

 

Great report. Brings back memories when I spent two weeks on the river. Take a canoe or do the raft trip through the Santa Elena Canyon.

 

Wow 2 weeks sounds epic! Alot of my family and friends have gone on rafting trips over the years, or have brought kayaks for shorter rides. One popular ride is to put in at the Hot Springs then float/paddle down to Rio Grande Village or Boquillas Canyon. But me personally no offense I can't stand being in a canoe for more than an hour or two. I'd rather hike 15 miles with a 50lb. backpack than spend a day floating on a river - just not my cup of tea. Now a 1 hour white water rafting trip like I did in Colorado a few years ago.. that was fun!

 

 

Allen

Great pics and story. That was my trip 3.5 yrs. ago when I picked up my new to me 04 1150RT in Ft. Worth. BBNP was beautiful and I am so glad I went thru there. I have two identical pics as yours. In front of the Bear and Mountain lion sign and the Big Bend sign. It was worth every beautiful mile. As a matter of fact we were supposed to be there the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year but ended up not making it. Thanks for the great pics and memories. It truly is a beautiful park.

 

Hi Keith, great to hear from you again!! Ya I'm glad you've gotten to ride thru BBNP and so enjoyed it.. you know then :) Its really special... Try to get there next year at Thanksgiving and join us if you want... take some new pics make some new memories.

 

 

That's some serious wide open space! Nice shots and report.

 

Ya, there is nothing like the open spaces of BBNP. You can hike for days and hardly see a soul. The views from the South Rim rival the Grand Canyon.. only you can see much farther. Its just so huge.. no other national park in the lower 48 is quite so spread out and unpopulated.

 

 

Great pictures and ride recount. Love everything between Ft Davis and BB. We go to the Chisos Mtn Lodge every Oct/Nov and need to add some hiking next time.

Bill

 

Ya there are a ton of great roads in the area thats for sure. I've barely scratched the surface. This year I hauled ass quickly so I could get a good campsite.. then going home I had to ride 660 miles straight thru back home so that left no time for adventures. Next time I'm gona do alot more scenic riding all the way there and around the greater area. And yes, do try to hike some of those amazing trails next time you visit the park. Some excellent hikes that are between 1 and 4 miles include the Hot Springs, Boquillas Canyon, Lost Mine Peak and the Window trails.. all very beautiful.

 

 

Great write-up. I rode through BBNP on my RT last May on my loop-of-the-US tour, but only got to spend a day and half there. I see now that I missed a lot, and now I'm going to have to go back!

 

Thanks for posting your trip experiences.

 

Jay

 

Thx man much appreciated. Ya thats one reason I did the write up - so all my motorcycle riding friends that pass thru the area might wana stop and see some of the sights next time they're able to visit.. so much to see its a great park.

 

 

Ya'll take care... Allen

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Nice report and great pictures. I've been to Big Bend twice and really enjoyed it. Too bad that the Border Patrol had to close the water crossing into that small Mexican town (Lajitas?). Used to be able to have a young Mexican lad ferry you across the Rio Grande in a small aluminum boat for a buck. Then a short walk into town was rewarded with a Corona and a couple of tacos for about three dollars.

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Nice report and great pictures. I've been to Big Bend twice and really enjoyed it. Too bad that the Border Patrol had to close the water crossing into that small Mexican town (Lajitas?). Used to be able to have a young Mexican lad ferry you across the Rio Grande in a small aluminum boat for a buck. Then a short walk into town was rewarded with a Corona and a couple of tacos for about three dollars.

 

Ya the little abandoned mining town of Boquillas, now population maybe 100.. was a fun place to visit back in the day. Pay $1 to ride the boat, maybe $3 to then ride the donkey into town. then $1 for 3 tacos, and $1 for a shot of tequilla in the bar. Many fun trips there, was sad to see the border crossing there closed after 9/11. Definitely hurt the Mexicans who live there.

 

take care.. Allen

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Allen, what a great trip. Brought back memories of my only ride there in '83.

 

I lived in Houston with a buddy and we planned to ride out there that summer. He weaseled out at the last minute (girlfriend issues)so it was just me and my R90s. BBNP was fantastic and I almost had the whole park to myself. I think it was there that I fell in love with the desert-mountain landscape so prominent in the western states of Utah and Arizona. In some areas you feel like you're the only one on the planet. I've only had that experience at one other place, camping at Goosenecks State Park in Utah this past summer.

 

On the return ride to Houston, I rode up to the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mtns. and just had a great time.

 

Thanks for bringing that back to life.

 

Rick

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Great photos. I keep seeing more and more about Texas that is changing my opinion of the place. Looks like I need to get out more, I always thought of Texas as flat, dusty and full of tumble weeds....

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