Big Bend NP

BIBE: February 24- 28, 2014

I have always known I wanted to experience Big Bend National Park (BIBE), and during a break in my career, I decided to do it in the Winter of 2014. The following is a compilation from my trip report at that time.

I targeted the last week of February due to optimal weather and pre-Spring Break crowds. I spent most of January planning for a four-day backpack trip and a day of site seeing in the park. Needless to say, the trip was amazing and one of the nature/backcountry highlights of my life.

For those that don’t know, Big Bend is rather isolated in the southwestern part of Texas, seven hours from Austin. It gets it’s name from the large, sweeping southern bend the Rio Grande makes between Mexico and the US, where at one point in the park you are actually south of Mexico. The park is huge, with a mountain range “island” (the Chisos Mountains) in the middle (rising 5,000′ above the lowest part of the desert), surrounded by other ranges and the desert, bounded by 275 miles of the Rio Grande. Given it is a desert, and the climate pretty much limits visitation between November and beginning of April. Given this limitation and the remoteness, it is one of the least visited National Parks in the lower 48, with about 400,000 visitors a year. It is too bad so many miss this phenomenal place, but benefits the park to help keep it very pristine.

There is a well laid out (and well known, for those in-the-know) three-day backpack route called the Outer Mountain Loop (OML) that starts in the mountains, circles around in the desert, and returns to the mountains. I did this loop, along with adding an additional day in the mountains to make sure I hit all the highlights.

There is an excellent forum (www.bigbendchat.com) that focuses on hikes and activities in the park that was invaluable to the planning phase of this logistically tricky hike. I have always known I wanted to experience Big Bend, and thanks to great timing and the information/assistance obtained from the forum, I was able to have a most excellent time in the park.

To find out more about my experience, check out the blog entries that document the day-to-day schedule of my trip (starting with Day 0), as well as the high-level tips and observations.  The schedule includes GPS tracks for each day, and a complete photo album is available.

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