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Old 01-21-2022, 11:32 PM   #1
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Big Bend TX area campgrounds

We are looking at visiting the Big Bend area a year from now. Which campground(s) would y'all recommend please. Also, any suggestions on good things to do or see would be appreciated.

Thanks, Doug
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Old 01-22-2022, 07:24 AM   #2
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We love Big Bend. Lots of wonderful hiking there, and a variety of lengths and difficulty levels so something for everyone. It's a large park, a fair amount of driving around to explore and see it all.

The Chisos Basin campground is scenic and unique, in the heart of the park. There's a windy road going into that area but nothing any Escape can not handle. The campground is on the reservations system and requires getting lucky to book a site six months ahead. Many of the sites in Chisos Basin are small and unlevel but there are some that can accommodate a trailer. Our favorite is number 18, one of the few that will fit our 5.0.

There are two other park campgrounds - Rio Grande Village and Cottonwood, at opposite ends of the park, also reserveable with some first-come sites as well. There is a small commercial RV park at Rio Grande with hookups but it is little more than a parking lot.

A wonderful and unique camping option at Big Bend is their primitive roadside backcountry campsites. Some are a ways down pretty rough roads, but a number of them are only a mile or so down a very accessible dirt road. They offer a private, isolated camping experience often with the nearest other campsite a mile away - it's like having the park all to yourself. The primo backcountry trailer sites are K-Bar 2, Grapevine Hills 1, and Croton Springs 1&2. These sites are also reserveable 6 months ahead. You can get more info about them at https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvis...dsidecamps.htm

I strongly recommend getting campsite reservations if you are able to. The park campgrounds are usually fully reserved much of the time and there aren't a lot of good options outside the park. There is a commercial RV park in Study Butte in a pinch but it is not wonderful. And try to avoid the peak holiday times - around Thanksgiving, Christmas break, and Spring break - as the park tends to get really crowded then.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmurphy02 View Post
We love Big Bend. Lots of wonderful hiking there, and a variety of lengths and difficulty levels so something for everyone. It's a large park, a fair amount of driving around to explore and see it all.

There are two other park campgrounds - Rio Grande Village and Cottonwood, at opposite ends of the park, also reserveable with some first-come sites as well. There is a small commercial RV park at Rio Grande with hookups but it is little more than a parking lot.
...
Dave is spot on (with one small exception). Many people who visit Big Bend tend to come back year after year. It is so big - how big you ask - that you can't see but a fraction in a week. Oh, yes, roughly as big as the state of Rhode Island. Note that currently there are NO first-come, first-served sites in the entire park at this time.

To add some emphasis to what Dave said: Avoid the Park in March if at all possible. The weather is usually perfect, the schools are on break, and everyone is heading for Big Bend. Expect to find no parking at trailheads and long lines in the usual places. "March Madness" is the term that the rangers use.

The campgrounds are a mixed lot. Everything from total isolation in the back country (only the very limited selection that Dave mentioned are trailer-suitable) to the hustle and bustle of the Chisos Basin with its most popular trailheads and good cell coverage and tiny sites. Trailer dumps available at Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin. Moderate shade in Cottonwood and parts of Rio Grande Village (known locally as RGV) so a portable solar panel is very helpful in the winter months.

Drinking water is a mixed bag also. The best water in the Park is in the Chisos Basin complex - spring fed, moderate mineral content. The worst, RGV - barely suitable for flushing toilets. Cottonwood also has non-drinkable water but it also has a station that produces reverse osmosis drinking water - if working.

My suggestion: Read everything you can about the Park - there have been many books published. Then check the Park website often to keep up with the latest news (For example, the Lodge restaurant is closed until further notice [guessing Covid??] and paving in April will close some campgrounds.) As your trip approaches watch the weather closely. The Park is a land of extremes, which includes weather events. They can loose power for days, campers can be trapped in the Chisos Basin for days due to ice on that narrow, steep mountain access road. Be prepared, be self-sufficient and have a flexible schedule.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:50 PM   #4
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Thank you Dave and Alan! Great info!

We have been reading up on the closures and hope that everything is open in a year. We agree that the various private RV "parks" in the area appear to be little more than site defined dirt lots, albeit with utilities. The backcountry sites really sound of interest and I think we'll explore those more and try to get one. We were thinking February or March but will now target February. Thanks again!

Stay healthy, safe travels,
Doug
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Old 01-22-2022, 05:33 PM   #5
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Some great advice already given. I would add my favorite sites are in Chisos and they are 7, 15, 25, and 26. A 19' SHOULD fit all of these.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:43 PM   #6
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Brain, thank you for your site numbers too. All great info!

Doug
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