I want to go to Big Bend so bad! This is my west Texas dream, to explore the Chisos mountains and the Rio Grande. My problem, I can’t find anyone who will go! Why? It’s such an amazing place! Last Sunday it was cold, in an effort to pass the time I decided to plan an adventure. It would be great if the family would go, and just the mention of this trip doesn’t spark interest to any of them. To sell the idea, I thought I would put together a Power Point presentation complete with pictures of where we would stay, what we would do, eating options and a sample itinerary. Considering my company, I picked easy options at the park. You can hike, swim, ride horses, raft, etc. Big Bend is 9 hours from Houston (640 miles), this is my first hurdle. No one wants to be in the car for that long. To me driving is a mind vacation in itself. You can listen to music and not have to do any critical thinking. You can fly 1/2 way there, but you still need to drive 4 more hours. (and the plane ride is 1 and 1/2 hours). Adding in driving and waiting at the airport, you might as well drive. Never mind the expense of flying!!
My plan is to go for 4 days. In spending the time to actually plan this out, I learned a lot! First, where to stay. If you are a real adventurist, camping is ideal. When the kids were young, I could get a way with camping and they would think that is fun! Now not so much. Terlingua is a ghost town that is 8 miles from the park entrance.
It’s not like you are going to find your chain hotels there, so I would call places to stay there boutique hotels. On our California adventure, I learned that unique hotel options can be a hit or miss. Fortunately with the internet, you can read the reviews, good and bad and at least have some decision making criteria. There is a lodge inside the park, but I really wasn’t interested in staying there. The ghost town has some restaurants and shops. And I mean, it’s ghost town…how cool is that?!
Next, what to do. Big Bend is 1,252 square miles. The Rio Grande is in the park and separates Texas from Mexico. I actually found more information about distances on Google maps than the park website so that I can plan a day. I read that there is a waterfall in the park, hot springs and found some information on trails, their distances and degree of difficulty.
Noting the options, their locations and the distance between them, I think the Window is a must see. It’s located near the lodge which is a great starting point. They also have a trail to the balanced rock that looked pretty cool too. It does say it’s a 6 mile rough road driving to get to the trail head.
To get to the waterfall and the spring is a little more time consuming, something I would definitely do if my party was up for it. I picked trails that were easy to do and less than 1 mile round trip! They say to go when the weather is cool, in Texas ? Really? That can be hard to hit, because it can be hot and cold in one day! Summers are very hot, so I understand that planning a trip in the desert during the hottest months is probably not a good idea. You really have to be acclimated and be diligent about hydration and if you are not used to that you can get really sick. Another must see is the Rio Grande. Santa Elena Canyon is the trail for that.
I think two days at the park would be good. Then we could make our way back to a couple of towns that I’ve heard are interesting. We could stay in Alpine and then go to Marfa. These towns are really in the middle of no where. I love the history of these little towns, established by railroad workers, cattle drivers and past home to some miners. It is a cool reminder of different times with different challenges. Love the history! Being that these places are in the middle of nowhere, the skies are really dark! And there are these Marfa ghost lights that I want to check out. So my goal is to make this happen!