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Old 11-06-2008, 06:38 PM
Location: The City of St. Louis
938 posts, read 3,497,225 times
Reputation: 789


I'm planning on heading out to Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving with one of my friends. We'll be staying for 3 nights with 2 days of hiking/exploring. I've been living in Texas for a little over a year now and have been dying to go. However, I have a few questions for people who have gone there before.

1. How packed will it be on Thanksgiving? The website said the winter holidays are the busiest, but it supposedly is one of the least visited parks in the system.

2. How rough really are the "Primitive Dirt Roads"? I'd like to check out some campsites along the River Road, but am limited to driving a '97 Saturn with maybe 5" of ground clearance. The car is old and I don't mind abusing it, and I've taken it down some very rough roads getting to fishing holes where I grew up in the Ozarks, but there is only so much you can do with so little ground clearance, and I'd rather not get stuck or rip a hole in the oil pan in the middle of the back country.

3. Assuming the River Road is too rough to take my car down, can anyone recommend some places to camp that are more secluded than the main campgrounds, and accessible in my car? I'm thinking of checking out Croton Springs Road, which the NPS website says has some backcountry camping spots. I'd also like to do some camping and hiking along the river too, and will take some recommendations for places to check out also.
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:16 PM
Location: Center Twp, PA
469 posts, read 1,448,467 times
Reputation: 310
It has been a long time since I have been there, but here is what I remember.
A lot of the roads are okay if you stay on the main path. If you want to really get off the beaten path, some roads, depending on the amount of rainfall they have gotten lately, may be almost impassable, or at the very least, a little dangerous.
It is such a big area there. Just make sure you have the necessary supplies: food, water, GPS system and a cell phone in case you get stuck.
I lived in Marfa for 3 years, but only made it to the Big Bend once.
Good luck and have a fun and safe trip!

PS: It gets cold at night, be sure to bring jackets, ect.
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Old 11-07-2008, 03:58 PM
Location: Plano, TX
714 posts, read 2,924,372 times
Reputation: 438
I was in Big Bend this last July, I would be careful where to drive. Most of the rangers can tell you what roads can be used by what type of vehicles. There are several "Improved Dirt Roads" that you can drive a standard 2WD vehicle, and they are near . I camped out at the campgrounds by Santa Elena Caverns, near Castolon and they were a little bit out of the way. But it may not be to your liking. Check out their web-site, the Old Maverick, Paint Gap, and Grapevine Hills road should be okay, and they have camping. Cell phones are not dependable in Big Bend. So if you are stuck until you are found. I think the only place we had reception was at the Basin HQ, and near Study Butte. I would just contact them, describe what you are after, your vehicle. They could recommend something.

Have fun, but be safe.
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Old 11-07-2008, 09:13 PM
Location: The City of St. Louis
938 posts, read 3,497,225 times
Reputation: 789
Thanks for the info. We'll probably just stop by the visitor center to double check and see if they think my car can get down some of the primitive roads. I won't risk it if they say it won't...that would be one expensive tow bill!

I've been camping all of my life, but the desert is somewhat unfamiliar territory. We'll bring lots of water for sure, and a map/compass.
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:03 AM
1,290 posts, read 5,424,622 times
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Check in with the ranger stations and plan a route, then make sure to stop by again on your way out. Big Bend is truly huge, even if it was amazingly busy you can go for a long time without seeing other people.

It is a truly beautiful park and I hope you enjoy it.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:24 AM
Status: "Astros need a strong spring." (set 12 days ago)
Location: Suburban Dallas
52,607 posts, read 47,791,447 times
Reputation: 33718
Keep us updated on that. Maybe you'll have a few pics.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:27 AM
Location: Pittsburgh--Home of the 6 time Super Bowl Champions!
11,310 posts, read 12,344,849 times
Reputation: 4937
I agree...would love to see some pics of your trip! Stay safe and have fun!
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