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Denny & Barb
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« on: November 03, 2012, 09:55:47 am »

Anyone been to Big Bend NP?  Working on our winter itinerary and would be interested in anyone's experiences there.  Plan on visiting the area in Feb and we like to camp (dry camp), maybe fish the Rio Grand and take many hikes.
http://www.stateparks.com/big_bend_national_park_in_texas.html
Thanks
Denny
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2012, 03:49:24 pm »

We went in spring 2003 (IIRC) and did not leave Tulsa until rains had been in the area for a week or more.  That made all the difference because everything was in bloom.  I kinda used the NOAA site to watch the winter/spring storms come into and through that area.  Staying in the park is doable but pretty desolate on the river and the mountain camp grounds are just that; in the island mountains.  We choose a commercial campground in Alpine and made big loops to the park: lots of driving but more amenities and neat things in the area to see and do.  Again IIRC that road to the Rio Grande campsite on the East side of the park rte 20,  is/was 20 something miles of dirt road.  There is a road on the West of the mountains that goes to the river (Santa Elena canyon) but I do not remember campgrounds on that side, may have changed though. The West side road is long, lots of elevation change and long, with nothing much but scenery, and did I mention long.  Oneway in and out unless you want a very long stretch of back country  dirt road, that I would not recommend unless extensively rigged for roughing it.  There is a commercial resort type place on the West side outside the park on the river around Terlingua.  As I remember it that place has the only green outside the mountains all the way West to Presidio on a farm-to-market hwy.  The only services (gas mostly) is at the junction in the park, and in the year we were there fuel was over four bucks so I would anticipate VERY high prices for anything inside the park.  Nearest wallyworld is Ft Stockton.  Don't forget the Marfa ghost light.  Only other thing is, that is huge country and driving long distances is very much a part of the trip, with miles and miles and miles of desert/yucca interrupted by similar scenery.  The BB Ranch Park West of BB Park has no amenities IIRC.  Border Patrol was on heightened alert while we were there and they have check stations on the way out of the park and other roads that lead away from the border, stopping mandatory and since I had a cover on my pickup bed they pretty much went through it every time until I started leaving the park admission receipt on the dash and then they looked at it and waved me through. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2012, 09:15:26 pm »

Border Patrol was on heightened alert.
My brother and his wife were there last winter and said it got down-right uncomfortable when hiking near and along the Rio Grand.  He said that there were often out-of-place people walking the trails.  Many signs were posted on restrictions of buying from illegal people that would land you in very serious trouble with the USA.  And of course there was opportunity to purchase.  My brother recommended camping only in the main camp grounds, not isolated primative camp grounds.  Hike all you like but stay on the main trails.

My other brother, older than me, he loves to camp alone.  In Organ Pipe Cactus NP, another border park, he day-hiked on a designated park trail to a natural spring.  While eating his lunch there, he heard wrustling in the brush, again people out of place, trying to stay out of his sight.  Needless to say my brother's rest period immediately ended.

My point is.......
You need to think a little differently when camping in the border parks.  Fishing at a nice quiet isolated spot along the Rio might get you into an uncomfortable situation.  Camping remotely could get worse than uncomfortable.  It's fine and safe to visit and stay in the parks, just sleep in camp grounds with lots of other people like yourself, doing as you are doing.  Don't isolate yourself.

I hope to go back to Big Bend NP in the new few years as I have not been there since a child, but taking appropriate precaution.
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2012, 09:40:09 pm »

I have been to Big Bend NP on a car trip about 10 years ago and loved it.  We stayed in the Chisos Mountain Lodge which is up at 5000 ft. and has a nice restaurant.  In the evening we were visited by two deer who came around the loop in the motel area hoping for a handout followed by a pair of javelinas on the same search.  Let me say that it is a long, lonely drive down there, much of which is in no cellular service areas.  It's pretty, but it is high desert.  Let's say that it is not as spectacular as the Canadian Rockies.  My wife is from the Rio Grande Valley and the people she knows who are still down there are nervous about how safe it is near the border these days.

Jerry
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Denny & Barb
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2012, 11:10:38 pm »

Guess I started this thread under the correct heading  "Adventure Anyone"!  LOL

Each year we do stay at border towns like Columbus, and even cross there annually to see a doc or so. But that is quite quiet compared what I am hearing about BBNP.  But I imagine with just a river as a border, it is quite the crossing place. We were at one NF near Nogalas two years ago, and the border patrol emptied their patty wagon in the camping site next to us with about 8 seemingly friendly chaps from S. of the border..   Don't know why they sat the boys down on the ground in a circle there next to us, but they did. We always travel to places like this with another couple and never leave home without our sidearm. (Good for 4 legged as well as 2 legged situations that one can come across out there.)  What was interesting is that my buddy and I were just finishing up with some target practice when the patrol pulled up and emptied their wagon next to us... and we were still wearing our sidearms. (It was legal to discharge firearms in that NF we were at.)  They didn't say anything to us, and we didn't ask.

But anyway.... hey thanks everyone for the comments..   Will have to assess if it is worth the drive down there. Was going to spend some time in the Carlsbad area, and thought maybe BBNP would be a good addition to the itinerary.   

Denny
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lghjr
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2012, 11:17:19 pm »

One other thing you mentioned was fishing.  When we were there I did not see any water in or out of the park that could not have been waded to Mexico.  Don't know what that would equate too for your fishing but I do know that upstream was very light on snow fall this year and eventually that has to play out in the lower Rio Grande.
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Anne and Bob
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2012, 03:08:23 pm »

We visited Big Bend in 1990.  Wow, what a change now.  I remember we stayed in the dry camp area which was great.  We hiked all the trails along the river and even took a dinghy over to Mexico and rode donkeys to a small town and had a cold beer.  We had to pay $1 to be ferried across the river and I got flea bites from the donkey so I should have walked! rolling on the floor   We drove an isolated dirt road to the old hot springs and sat in the hot springs (building was gone) and dangled our arms over into the river water.

Anyway, I am glad we went back then.

Anne & Bob
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