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Big Bend National Park

Travel Information

With a size of more than 1,200 suqare miles and a manifold landscape, Big Bend National Park is a great destination to do hiking on all levels. Located in the south of Texas on the border to Mexico, the park is a little off the main route that many tourists take to enjoy the scenery of the National Parks in the Rocky Mountains. Nevertheless, it has its very own beauty and charme. From the green and forest covered Chisos Mountains in the middle of the park, which are topped by the 8,825 feet high Emory Peak, down through the deserts to the Rio Grande, the park offers a great variety of nature and activities.

Getting there

Arriving on I10 from east or west, the Interstate exits for Big Bend National Park are well signed. Once you leave the Interstate, it is still at least a couple of hours until your reach the park headquarters. If you are driving on I20, you may at some point decide to shortcut down to I10.

Exploring the park

Big Bend National Park is a great place for hiking. Regardless whether you like to do short day hikes or prefer multi day backpacking hikes, you will find the right track in Big Bend. Prepare your trip very carefully, especially if you plan to go on a muti day hike. Water is rare in the park, and you need to be prepared to take all the water you need with you. Be aware that most of the areas in Big Bend are very remote. A first aid kit, a mirror and a whistle should be part of any equipment on an overnight backpacking trip.
A good starting point is the Basin in the Chisos Mountains. It is a good basis for day hiking. If you are in good shape, you can easily walk up into the green Chisos Mountains from the Basin, our you can take your car to a number of other day hiking destinations.
If you would like to go on a multi day backpacking trip, the Dodson Trail in combination with the Blue Creek Trail and Juniper Canyon makes a nice two to three night trip. The trail is usually well marked and brings you through the green and forest covered Chisos Mountains down into the desert. Remeber that especially the Dodson Trail is a very remote trail. Even during Thanksgiving, which is the peak season in Big Bend, you may not encounter anybody on this trail. Therefore, if you get injured, it may take a while until someone will find you. Make sure that you let people know where you are going. Water is rare on this track. Make sure to take all the water you will need with you (at least one gallon per day). There is a short trail from the park road down to Blue Creek Ranch, which directly lies on the route. You may want to deposit water here which you can pick up during your trip. This may safe you one or two gallons of water on your back.
There are also many possibilities to vary this backpacking trip, such as exploring the Chisos Mountains for a bit longer, climbing Emory Peak or exploring some of the creeks cutting of the Dodson Trail, such as Smoky Creek for example. However, you should know that it is difficult to find your way through those creeks, especially your way back to the Dodson trail. It requires a detailled map and also a compass.
All necessary permits can be obtained from the Backcountry Office at the park's headquarters. In any case, you should check and discuss your plans with the folks there, since they may be able to give you some valuable advice.

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