View Full Version : Big Bend tx

Terry Hayden
3-Mar-2014, 18:00
Hey all,

I'm considering a trip to the Big Bend area in the not too distant future.

I'll be coming into there from Austin, and leaving out of El Paso.

Looks like Terlingua is the place to stay in/near the park.

Any suggestions on interesting spots to visit that might not be on the major
radar ?

I don't have an itinerary, and will probably only be there for two or three days.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


brian mcweeney
3-Mar-2014, 20:20
Hi Terry.
I was in Big Bend the first week of January. All I can say is it's called BIG Bend for areason. It's hard to do it justice in two three days. I stayed in the Chisos Basin campground which puts you "close" to a lot of things. If you're not camping consider the Chisos Lodge for staying. Terlingua is interesting but not sure of the accommodations available. It's also to the West of where you are coming from. There's a hotel in Marathon but Marathon is 60? Miles from the park headquarters. Again the space is big. Consider Santa Elena Canyon at sunrise or sunset. Balance Rock?

Monty McCutchen
3-Mar-2014, 21:05
Big Bend is my favorite National Park, and although I haven't been in many years since leaving Texas, it won't disappoint. My favorite hike is down to 'The Window'. Great hike followed by a well framed view. Lots of photos along the way if you don't want to power the hike out.

As mentioned above Santa Elena Canyon early or late in the day and Balanced rock are great spots for not only their namesakes but many other photo opportunities as well.

Paying close attention to safety (no Church Lady here, but it wouldn't be a place you would want to break down in, run of out gas, ask for directions etc) but if you want to get a map out there is a wonderful lonely road that dead ends into the Mexican Border leading to the Black Gap National Wildlife Management Area and a lonely church off in the Mexican Landscape a good deal away. I would not cross into Mexico in pursuit of it there as when I drove that road there were armed guards on the other side of the border although the states side seemed pretty lazy and innocuous. As I stated above its been years since I drove this and much may have changed so buyer beware ad nauseum etc etc, as this advice was free and is worth as much!!!

Here is a link to the area

I found its lonely road vibe appealing your mileage of course may vary.

If you get a chance look up James Houston Evans. Maybe one of the nicest human beings to grace this fine planet and one hell of a photographer. If you are lucky to cross paths with him you'll be the better for it. Here is a link to his generous spirit.


You can't go wrong. Its just beautiful country.


David Lobato
4-Mar-2014, 06:57
Big Bend is enchanting. I've been there a few times and it was always great. But, it's an unforgiving land and you need to be prepared. Nice day hikes are Grapevine Hills, Mule Ears trail to the spring, Homer Wilson Ranch and up the narrow valley, and anywhere in the Chisos Basin. Study Butte has services, not necessarily at Terlingua. Other places with lodging are at least an hour drive away. Chisos Mountain Lodge requires reservations in advance, not a sure bet on short notice. Bring a day pack for lots of water and food, and always carry more supplies inside your car. It gets hot with intense sun early in the season. I can't wait to go back.

Terry Hayden
4-Mar-2014, 10:50
Thanks for the advice - Brian & David. I am aware of safety issues vis a vis water and supplies, but it never hurts to be reminded. I had considered going to
Boquillas while we were there, but just realized that my passport is out of date.
I will definitely check out St. Elena cyn. and the balanced rock areas.
I also got some interesting info about the old movie set just west of Terlingua - has anyone been there?
Monty - you are right James Hevans has some wonderful work on his site. If we have time we will stop in Marathon at his gallery. If not we will be in
Austin for a couple of days so I'll check out his work at the gallery there.

Nathan Potter
4-Mar-2014, 20:04
Terry, the Boquillas Canyon entrance can be reached at low flow from the US side. A different aspect than the Santa Elena canyon entrance but both have some fine photo opportunities around the entrances. There are some nice tele shots of the Sierra del Carmen escarpment from the approach to Boquillas.

The Mexican village of Boquillas across the river used to be reached (before 1995 or so) by just wading the river at low flow or signaling a mexican villager across the river for use of his boat. I don't think there is an official crossing now and armed Border Patrol can be found here and there, but unlike some TX. ranchers they won't shoot you on sight.

I've stayed at the Gage hotel in Marathon which is a ways out of the Park but it would be a fast ride to the park boundry (30 to 40 min.). Chisos Basin lodges are a nice place to stay up some 5000ft. in elevation but you almost always need reservations now.

Terlingua used to be a semi ghost town but is more active now, if funky, but with some stuff to photograph if you are inclined.

This is really a vast area if you include the state owned Big Bend Ranch and I range over it using my 4 wheel drive Toyota so can scout out inaccesible areas until I spot an image.

Useless place in midsummer due to the intense heat (a bit like Death Valley). Down on the Rio Grande river I've measured shade temperatures of 127 F in August. March, April and May can be delightful in daytime ranging from 70 to 95 F. Could be near freezing at night though.

Best option is to check out the canyons and environs using Google Earth.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

4-Mar-2014, 20:59
Terlingua used to be a semi ghost town but is more active now, if funky, but with some stuff to photograph if you are inclined.

I haven't been, but Edward Abbey's visit leaves me with a near-living image of the place, and makes me want to go for real some day.

From "Big Bend," in his book, One Life at a Time, Please:

"The name Terlingua is said to be a corruption of the Spanish tres lingua – three languages. The three languages once spoken in this area, which gave the town its name, would have been Spanish, English, and probably Comanche."

"The Comanches' annual migration took them through the middle of what is now Big Bend NP. Following these same tracks for centuries, the Indians left so many skeletons of stolen cattle, horses, and human captives that their path became known as the Trail of Bones. Nothing can be seen of this trail any more; the white bones of the Comanches' victims have had 130 years to disintegrate and disappear."

"Crowned with a forest of juniper, pinon pine, oak, madrone, and other trees, the Chisos Mountains rise like an island of greenery and life in the midst of the barren, sun-blasted, apparently lifeless, stone-bleak ocean of the Chihuahuan Desert. An emerald isle in a red sea."

Toward the end of his visit, Abbey stumbles down a trail in the dark, returning from a day hike, cursing himself for not bringing a flashlight.


5-Mar-2014, 09:46
You might also like: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/

Terry Hayden
6-Mar-2014, 17:22
Thanks Nate, I imagine that the water is pretty low these days - so maybe the Boquillas canyon is an option.

We will be in a rentacar, so no serious off roading on this trip - maybe make it back again in my 4-runner some time.

Great quote Heroique - love Abbey's writing

Thanks for the link Bigdog - I'll check it out