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Big Bend - Alpine - Marfa - Fort Davis


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marfa has become a fashionable edge destination for the trust fund crowd and as such is soon to jump the shark.  everyone asking about 4wd options, especially in the state park, needs to use google.  the state park website is basically a user guide to 4WD and how dangerous it is to do so in the state park if you don't know what you're doing and if you don't have the right equipment.  there are also a number of other barely-more-than-a-trail 4WD options with history that matches their unused and unknown exclusivity.

do your research people.  earn the data.

i'll give you state parkers one tip.

the solitario.

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it's not a half bad idea to make 4wd mandatory for the state park.  you have a flat tire out there and there aint no way you're making it to presidio on a donut.  it's a really strange place out there that our tax dollars are paying for but i like it.  you can supposedly see the solitario from space.  i havent checked the satellite images.  el patio was a lifesaver after 3 days in the park.  

 

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On 3/31/2018 at 5:48 PM, Damor said:

And if you can work it in, swim at Balmorhea.

Man, THIS.

No matter how bad you feel, an hour in Balmorhea will make you feel good again. 

It's literally impossible to walk out of that place feeling bad.

Edited by Beau Vine
Could also say the same about breakfast at Alicia's in Alpine.
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11 hours ago, Hagbard Celine said:

marfa has become a fashionable edge destination for the trust fund crowd and as such is soon to jump the shark.  everyone asking about 4wd options, especially in the state park, needs to use google.  the state park website is basically a user guide to 4WD and how dangerous it is to do so in the state park if you don't know what you're doing and if you don't have the right equipment.  there are also a number of other barely-more-than-a-trail 4WD options with history that matches their unused and unknown exclusivity.

do your research people.  earn the data.

i'll give you state parkers one tip.

the solitario.

Agree about Marfa, the "I Love Dick" crowd has definitely taken over since that show became famous.  Although I am far from one to give advice on what kind of vehicle to travel in, we made it all the way in to the Solitario in a two wheel drive Chevy P/U. 

Also, can't have a Big Bend thread without a picture of a goat drinking a beer.

 

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Spent last week in Big Bend. We did a 4 day canoe trip through Boquillas Canyon followed by 2 nights in the Basin. We did a guided float through Big Bend River Tours and it was fantastic. They fed us like kings: steaks, salmon, enchiladas, cheesecake...it really took it to the next level and may be the only camping trip where I walked away feeling like I gained weight. The river was at about 110 cfs but there were only a couple places where we bottomed out. A couple of class 2 rapids but otherwise a very calm and relaxing float. We also got to explore some very nice side canyons. The Basin almost felt claustrophobic after being on the river for 4 days, but we did get to summit Casa Grande...which has been on my list for a while. 

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From Casa Grande

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the camping situation in the basin was ridiculous. we didn't have too much trouble finding a spot on thursday morning, but when we left on saturday we had some asshole trying to set up camp in our site before we even took our tent down. there were people there before sunrise scoping out spots. 

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well, they have electricity now. you can still get a good meal at falcon's restaurant, and the bar is still there but no more pool tables. as you can imagine the border being closed for a decade didn't do them any favors.

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1 hour ago, SimonBolivar said:

How is Boquillas Mexico doing now?

We've gone 6 times since it was re-opened to the USA.  Falcon's food is great!  We've also done a tour with "Chalo" to the hot springs on their side.  They are way better than the park hot springs.  We just had to wait for the neked Federales to finish bathing.

We always ride horses into town.  We've considered doing a visit to the crystal caves.  Anyone ever done that while over in Boquillas?

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I was at the Alon in Study Butte this Spring and some douchebag was talking about carrying cigarettes and ammo over to sell in Boquillas at inflated prices.  The only thing we've ever taken over there with the intent of not coming back with were backpacks of crayons, colored pencils, erasers, candy, and other treats for the kids in gift bags.

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On 4/13/2018 at 4:14 PM, stc said:

well, they have electricity now. you can still get a good meal at falcon's restaurant, and the bar is still there but no more pool tables. as you can imagine the border being closed for a decade didn't do them any favors.

what i loved about those pool tables is the balls seemed to be made out of agate or onyx.  really cool.  oh, and i loved that there were no doors on the bar.  you just walked in from the dusty desert, and the restroom in the back had no ceiling.  it was just like peeing outdoors.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just got back. Thanks to everyone that provided recommendations because I totally used them and have surly the credit. Here's a recap:

shared a house using airbnb with some friends (pink adobe)

planet marfa for happy hour was awesome. Super friendly staff and a great beer garden atmosphere.

Capri for dinner. Had a fantastic meal and an awesome Mezcal based old fashion. Once again, amazing service.

Chinati foundation was a little disappointing. Really liked the metal junk welds at the warehouse in downtown though.

foodshark was great but slow as hell.

walked around downtown and the square and popped into a random free andy Warhol exhibit

Big Bend was badass. We got in one long hike partly up a mountain (shade!) and then drove down near boquillas for a short hike to see the river and canyon (104 degrees!). Went to the basin for a cold beer then headed to terlingua star light theater for dinner. That was a huge hit. Once again, phenomenal service. The locals were just getting plowed outside and playing songs, which made it feel like it was still an old west mining town.

Prada seemed unnecessarily far from town. Fort Davis was a pretty boring fort but cool history in their little museum.

St George pool is free and open to the public after 4pm, and they have a bar! That was a great spot for a dip.

Marfa Burrito was legit but didn't hold a candle to Alicia's in Alpine where I stopped for lunch on the way back home. Big thank you for that recommendation. Note- they only take CASH. Same for food shark.

 

 

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3 hours ago, MidTexHorn said:

FYI for anyone heading that way this summer, Balmorhea is CLOSED for a while due to some structural problems with part of the pool. Hate to see anyone drive all the way there for nothing. It really is an awesome spot, hope they get it fixed up soon.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/balmorhea

Forgot to point that out. That's why we went to Fort Davis instead.

also Star Party was a bit of a letdown because of weather (cloudy) but they still made it fun and interesting, and we still got to look through the telescopes at what was visible (mostly just Jupiter and Venus).

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  • 5 weeks later...

Saw this guy on South Rim trail 2 years ago. Big Bend is fucking awesome. Next time I need a 4-wheel drive so I can do a roadside or backcountry campsite and not have to listen to people's generators all night. The Chisos Basin is still a very cool place to camp.c35fe413523b2ab510549ea94bc8d670.jpg

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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  • 2 weeks later...

We went for spring break and had a great time. Let my 13 year old drive for the first time on a back country dirt road coming from Santa Elena Canyon. The view behind us is still my phone screen pic.

 

 

 

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Loved every minute of that place. Considering a trip back this fall.

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I’m headed there Thursday or Friday with my kids and my Dad. It’s my older son’s second time there and my younger son’s first. Planning to base ourselves in the basin campground but my kids and I are going to spend one night on the south rim. Other than that, we will roam around to Santa Elena, maybe the Boquillas crossing, hot springs, etc 

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  • 3 months later...

Bump.  Thinking of taking my 11-yo son out there this coming Spring Break.  I'm born and raised in Texas, but have never been.  Spent time in Fort Davis, but not Big Bend.

My plan is to leave Friday when he gets out of school, stay at the ranch in Kimble Co, and try to get there before lunch Saturday.  Thinking that we'll stay through Tuesday afternoon then head back.We've hiked a bunch including overnight hikes and have a good setup for primitive camping.  I'm going to look at lodging availability this coming week, but I'd imagine we'll have at least one night camping in the back country.  More if lodging is scarce.  

What's the best strategy?  Backcountry camping along the trails?  I know Spring Break tends to be a busy time.  Any must see areas?  Anything to avoid?  I'll hang up and listen.

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I have been to Big Bend a couple of times right before the beginning of traditional Spring Break.  The place gets pretty jammed up.  Usually I'm leaving the park as all the Breakers are arriving (in numbers).  Lodging and camp site access in the basin is going to be an issue for you at this late date. 

Edited by gecko
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On 4/13/2018 at 5:50 PM, AnonymousInternetPoster said:

We've gone 6 times since it was re-opened to the USA.  Falcon's food is great!  We've also done a tour with "Chalo" to the hot springs on their side.  They are way better than the park hot springs.  We just had to wait for the neked Federales to finish bathing.

We always ride horses into town.  We've considered doing a visit to the crystal caves.  Anyone ever done that while over in Boquillas?

Were they horses or donkeys that you rented from an old blind man?

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/7/2018 at 9:58 PM, Spaulding Smails said:

Bump.  Thinking of taking my 11-yo son out there this coming Spring Break.  I'm born and raised in Texas, but have never been.  Spent time in Fort Davis, but not Big Bend.

My plan is to leave Friday when he gets out of school, stay at the ranch in Kimble Co, and try to get there before lunch Saturday.  Thinking that we'll stay through Tuesday afternoon then head back.We've hiked a bunch including overnight hikes and have a good setup for primitive camping.  I'm going to look at lodging availability this coming week, but I'd imagine we'll have at least one night camping in the back country.  More if lodging is scarce.  

What's the best strategy?  Backcountry camping along the trails?  I know Spring Break tends to be a busy time.  Any must see areas?  Anything to avoid?  I'll hang up and listen.

You have to go.  Hiking at Big Bend was only a portion of our West Texas trip last Spring Break, but it made a lasting impact on our family.  Didn't camp in the park, but did a few afternoon hikes, including Santa Elena Canyon and 'The Window', which were awesome.   As great as the park was, the place where we stayed was almost just as great as an experience.  Highly recommend Basecamp Terlingua.  Check out their lodging options on their website.  We stayed in a Tipi and are trying to get back there this fall. 

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On 11/5/2018 at 9:30 PM, Hank_Hill said:

Doing a 30 miler in mid december. How cold we talkin?

Probably not too bad.

 

On 6/14/2018 at 9:39 PM, hookem2010 said:

Saw this guy on South Rim trail 2 years ago. Big Bend is fucking awesome. Next time I need a 4-wheel drive so I can do a roadside or backcountry campsite and not have to listen to people's generators all night. The Chisos Basin is still a very cool place to camp.c35fe413523b2ab510549ea94bc8d670.jpg

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

Some good primitive campsites along the river, but they require high clearance/4x4. There is a jeep road that runs along the river. Some are 20+ miles in, so you wouldn't hear a damned thing other than the wildlife.

 

Edited by High Plains Drifter
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It was in the 20's some of the nights in early January when we went. It was pretty chilly on top of the mountains as well. A good down jacket like the REI coop down jacket and a baselayer should do you. But we also drove through a winter storm that knocked all the power out for 100 miles around the park on the way there. So it's probably like anywhere in Texas during the winter, you won't know until a few days before. The weather can also vary considerably in different areas of the park.

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definitely a crapshoot. last time i went in december it never got above 35 degrees anywhere in the park. hiking in the cold isn't too bad as long as you're prepared, you can see a lot of the desert that just isn't possible during the heat of the summer. 

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  • 1 month later...

I

39 minutes ago, SimonBolivar said:

Has anyone done a trip while staying in Alpine? I know it's quite a drive every morning, but is it comfortable or not worth the $$$ saved by staying in Alpine?

It's definitely doable.  Upsides are better accommodations, less crowds.  Downsides are you'll be putting about 180 extra miles on your car each day.  If you're not going to camp then hotels outside the park are about your only option.  It takes planning way in advance to get a cabin or lodge room.  The other upside to staying in Alpine is you could visit places outside the park - Ft Leaton, the state park, Marfa, Terlingua, Ft Davis, etc.

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3 hours ago, SimonBolivar said:

Has anyone done a trip while staying in Alpine? I know it's quite a drive every morning, but is it comfortable or not worth the $$$ saved by staying in Alpine?

we've stayed in Marathon at The Gage and driven in the park each day.  Other options that are a lot closer would be Lajitas Resort or Cibilo Creek Ranch

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11 minutes ago, SimonBolivar said:

Would you do it again or choose to stay closer?

well the wife loves The Gage.  But I would like to try out Lajitas Resort.  She went on a girls trip there and loved it as well.

 

What I don't like about staying at The Gage or far from the park is that it pretty much keeps you from eating at Starlight or pounding drinks in Terlingua or at La Kiva, etc.  Way too far a drive back to Marathon after dinner/drinks.

 

this now has my interest

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20571511?guests=1&adults=1

 

lots of interesting airbnb rentals out there.  

Edited by MAROON
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On 11/12/2018 at 8:11 PM, High Plains Drifter said:

Probably not too bad.

 

Some good primitive campsites along the river, but they require high clearance/4x4. There is a jeep road that runs along the river. Some are 20+ miles in, so you wouldn't hear a damned thing other than the wildlife.

 

There are also some primitive sites along dirt roads that don't necessarily need 4wd.  Any soccer mom suv or truck should be enough.  I can't for the life of me remember which those are though.

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Also, I was just there for a few days.  Campgrounds are closed and so is backcountry camping but it's not the government shutdown apocalypse.  The staff from the lodge is cleaning/supplying the restrooms in the basin, and all the consessonair stores are open.  Pit toilets were open, but no TP.  Just saying, don't be afraid to go, just be prepared.

It was crazy on wednessday.  It was foggy, windy and  28 at the base of the road into the basin with frost on the plants.  Then you get into the basin and you are above the fog, it's sunny and in the 50s.

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