I have some time off during the 3rd full week of March and am thinking about where to go for 2 or 3 days of camping time. Someplace to do a little light hiking and photography, and enjoy some peace and quiet. I am thinking about two places I've never been to yet:
Palo Duro Canyon SP, 400 miles away
Big Bend NP, 800 miles away
Between the two, which would you pick and why? Anyone been to both and care to give me some comparisons/contrasts between the two? Thanks in advance.
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We've been to both. My preference is Big Bend. It's more open and has it's own ecology. For me Palo Dura, while very nice, is too close to "civilization."
But for only two or three days I would pick Palo Dura. it's hard to justify the extra driving if you can only stay a fwe days. Palo Dura has some nice hiking and a cliff/wall that is intersting to climb. Both have a lot of photo ops.
I've been to both and I'll have to go along with the Palo Duro recommendations. Not that Big Bend isn't good but that's a lot farther away. Palo Duro has some very interesting history too, it was a Comanche campground and there was a big battle fought there with the US Calvary. They had an out door theater there last time I was there and did dinner theaters shows.
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Light hiking - The Window, Lost Mine, Ernst Tinaja, Hot Springs, Balancing Rock, The Chimneys, Lower Burro Mesa, Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff,Santa Elena Canyon, Boquillas Canyon,Pine Canyon, Emory Peak, Cattail Canyon (not on map; ask ranger or campground host for directions). Then there is the South Rim; long (14 mi) but doable dayhike and the most awesome views in the southwest.
Photography - I'm awful with a camera but Big Bend somehow makes my poor attempts look pretty good. Cacti should be blooming at this time.
Peace and quiet - 800,000+ acres and one of the least visited NPs. Cottonwod campground on the west side is the most remote. You might also consider one of the roadside dispersed sites if you really want to be alone. There is minimal light pollution and the night sky is incredible.
I think Spring Break is next week (the busiet time in the Park) but check www.recreation.gov to make sure sites are available for your visit.
We usually spend a couple of days in Palo Duro when visiting Texas. Its a great Park but it ain't Big Bend. The Lighthouse is a good day hike. The campground at the far end, Mesquite I think, is the most remote.
We're from NC and its nearly 2K miles each way but still well worth the trip and we'll be in BB for a week over Easter - Can't wait.
We went to both last year - Big Bend in the Spring and Palo Duro in the late Summer. Our blog entry for Big Bend is here and our entry for Palo Duro is here. Big Bend is HUGE and takes much longer to see and obviously a lot more to see. Palo Duro is much smaller and the campground is down on the canyon floor with great campsites. Canyon, TX is just a short drive from the canyon and has some nice restaurants and the usual shopping opportunities. Big Bend is very remote and close to nothing else. We enjoyed both as each had its own unique qualities.
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