The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the south of Texas
Fact! Big Bend National Park is the only National Park in Texas. At just over 800,000 sq miles of beautiful desert and mountains, it includes the entire chain of Chisos mountains, Santa Elena Canyon and a simple but relaxing natural Hot Springs along the infamous Rio Grande River.
Distance from Austin: 478 miles or 7 hours
Things to do: Boquillos Canyon Overlook, Pine Canyon Trail, Drive Black Gap Road, Chisos Overlook and South Rim Hike, Sotol Vista Overlook, Mule Ears Viewpoint, Santa Elena Canyon Overlook and Hike, Big Bend Hot Springs, visit Terlingua.
Big Bend is truly a paradise for many… nature lovers, hikers and birders a like. The park boasts more than 150 miles of hiking trails from deserts to mountains to the Rio Grande river; biking tours, scenic drives and river rafting activities. A short drive outside of the park and you’ll find yourself in the rough and tough town of Terlingua, an old mining village that now has a boasting population of 58!! (according to the 2010 census) and hosts the annual Original Terlingua International Chili Cookoff!
The only tip we have is to BE PREPARED. Whether you are there for hiking, group camping, RVing or back country camping, just be prepared. Bring lots of water, sunblock, supplies, food and snacks, bear spray or back pack bell, proper clothes and gear. Along the Texas border there are limited resources, limited stores, limited water rations (5 gallons per person) and you never know what will happen.
While driving the back country we were heading toward Black Gap Road when some fellow back country campers appeared needing help jumping their truck. Some people think this is the start of an awesome horror movie, but in fact were just real people in need of help. Even though they had brought additional car batteries it was unexpected to need help 10 miles into back country. So glad we could help them out!
You can find many guides online with packing lists or tips, here are some great tips from Wilderness Country. I especially like the tip: Always check the weather to avoid afternoon rainstorms, because, yeah we didnt do that and see below for our trip to Robbers Roost. There is no cell service in the park other than the ranger stations and some main roads in/out, so check with you can!
Boquillas Canyon Overlook
Pine Canyon #2 Back Country Campsite
Santa Elena Canyon Overlook & Hike
Robbers Roost Back Country Campsite
Robbers Roost – The Morning After
Robbers Roost is about 7 miles into back country, down the Juniper Canyon road trail. Just when you think you driven so far and you may have missed it, the road opens up to the beautiful little campsite just perfect for a 360 degree view of the Chisos Mountains and surrounding desert landscape. Simple Gorgeous! We set up camp, had dinner, took photos, danced in the sunset and packed everything up for the night. Just as the sun went down, the wind picked up. This is when we realized… we did not check the weather for that night.
We got in the tent at 10pm and the wind was howling. By midnight, the tent was literally caving in on us the wind was so strong. I felt like I was suffocating and getting a little nervous when Tre looked out of the tent and saw there was lightning all around us. We decided to jump in the truck just in case. He had the brilliant idea to take our gear out of the tent quickly, and good thing he did because quickly after that the back tent pole snapped and it started pouring rain into the tent. This happened on and off for almost 3 hours…. And then the HAIL started, and the tent took on water leaving us with a nice puddle in the morning. So much for those “quick” desert storms.
We watched the lightning dance all around us until about 4am safely from inside the truck… until the sun was up and we emerged in awe at the gorgeous blue sunrise over the mountains.
Big Bend Hot Springs Area
This was our 5th trip to the Big Bend area: 2005 for the filming of Land of Shadowed Sand, 3 trips to Lajitas, Terlingua and Big Bend between 2008-2011 including hiking the South Rim Trail, ATV Touring, Start Gazing and Photographing the Lajitas Resort & Golf Course. This was our first time back country car camping.
Already looking forward to our next National Park Trip!
Till next time, Adventure On, Yall!