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 > Big Bend State Park or Big Bend National Park?

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chamberlaincourt

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Posted: 01/14/10 09:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We will be coming into the area via El Paso and heading south....is it more worthwhile to visit the state or the national park - or should we go to the state park first and then national park? We will be in 40' motorhomes with tow cars. We would like to do some light hiking, lots of viewing interesting sights....we know it's a long trip! Thanks for any advice!

DesertHawk

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Posted: 01/14/10 11:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Never been to the state park, but we enjoyed the national park very much. We went there on one of our Spring Breaks (same time as NMSU's) a few years ago. We did not bother with reservations, we found spots at 3 of the Campgrounds without a single problem. Rio Grande, Cottonwood & Chisos Basin; it was at the end of March/start of April. The weather was nice, warmish but not HOT, the flowers were great, there were a lot of people (Not Jamed Packed), but we didn't have a problem finding a place to camp. Remember the weather can change very quickly in this part of the world and it cools off quickly at night even if hot in the day due to the elevations. It is a long way from sea level. It could get crowded if the flowers are really blooming more so than Spring Breakers, but we normally just take our chances with the National Park campgrounds.

As a side note: In case you are hungry when in Las Cruces, Southern NM style Mexican Food is the best you will find anywhere. IMHO. Las Cruces area NM Mexican food *** Las Cruces Area

We came in from El Paso as well. We wanted to get to the park as quickly as possible, and to be down by the Rio Grande Village first. We got to the North Park entrance (down the road from Marathon where we topped off the fuel after filling it up in Alpine before that, we were in a C-Class MH). We got to the gate late with it already dark, the campgrounds are mostly down closer to the Rio, therefore, we spend that night just outside of the entrance at a wide place beside the road just up from the Park sign. We wanted to see what was there to be seen, and there is a visitor center just inside the entrance (Persimmon Gap Visitor Center) (there are several centers scattered through out the park). Big Bend has very few places to eat other than your RV but there are a few, even a lodge at the Basin. From what I remember going via Marathon and entering by the North Entrance was less of a drive in miles. But it has been several years since we did this trip.

Someone on another forum wrote: "I just spent 4 days in Big Bend and talked with a Border Patrolman there. He told me it is perfectly safe in the park, just don't cross the river!" This was in 2009.

Remember, "Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest cities, the isolation of Big Bend is a drawing point for many visitors, it also means that your trip must be well prepared and carefully planned. Several highways lead to Big Bend National Park: TX 118 from Alpine to Study Butte or FM 170 from Presidio to Study Butte (then 26 miles east to park headquarters) or US 90 or US 385 to Marathon (then 70 miles south to park headquarters). Distances between towns and services can be considerable. Always be sure you have plenty of gas, oil, food, and water for your trip. The park has four camper stores, but supply and selection can be limited. There are also small stores in the communities outside the park. The last major shopping areas (grocery and hardware stores) are Alpine, Fort Stockton, and Del Rio."

Campgrounds

With 40' RVs, I would think your only option would be Rio Grande Village campground in the Nat'l Park. It is the largest developed campground in Big Bend. It would make a workerable base camp to explore the park with your dinghies. We stayed more at the Rio Grande Village Campground, but also did a stay at the Chisos Basin Campground. We drove over to Cottonwood Campground, but it was right on the Rio Grande and generator use is not allowed. We did not stay there.

We left the park via Alpine, also a neat drive.

Between Van Horn & Alpine you will find Marfa famous for being the area where the movie "Giant" was filmed and for the Marfa Lights. Not that I have seen the Marfa lights, never traveled in the night time along there for one reason. [emoticon] But remember seeing a lot of Pronghorns along the way.

Balmorhea State Park is located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains southwest of Balmorhea and nearby Davis Mountains State Park (along with the famous Big Bend Nat'l Park) are very nice places and one could spend a long time at each. Been to all except Davis State Park, but it is nice areas, be sure to visit the old Fort Davis a nice place to see. Balmorhea is north of Big Bend and Alpine as is Fort Davis.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park ( Guadalupe ) is located in far West Texas on U.S. Highway 62/180. The driving distance is 110 miles east of El Paso, Texas, or 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. It is close enought to drive to Carlsbad Caverns National Park from the campground as a day trip. One could also get to it from Van Horn, Texas off I-10. It is were a little bit of New Mexico slipped over into Texas (Don't throw rocks, I happen to be a Native Texan who has choosen to live in New Mexico, my part of NM & Guadalupe are part of the land the Old Republic of Texas claimed as Texas, Ha! RepublicTX ). The visitor center is really neat, neatly landscaped and a small campground is near it. We have stopped there a few times on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. Never overnighted.

Southern New Mexico *** White Sands & Carlsbad Caverns Areas ** Caverns Photos:

( ">n-us:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie........group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CCQQsAQwAw] )

Leasburg Dam State Park near Las Cruces, nice desert camping or by the Rio Grande. By using I-10 to Ft. Stockton, take US 285 to Pecos, on to Carlsbad, on to Artesia, then take US 82 to Cloudcroft, to Alamogordo; then US 70 to Las Cruces. Or From Ft Stockton keep on to Balmorhea, see the water hole, go to Fort Davis and whatever else you are wanting to see, then head down to Van Horn then take TX 54 to Guadalupe, the Carlsbad & so on to Las Cruces. Leasbugh is up I-25 about 15 miles or less. Or go to Seminole Canyon first, Big Bend, Ft Davis, etc then I-10 to I-20 to Pecos, etc to Carlsbad & on to Las Cruces. Lot of ways to get over west without going by El Paso. Oops, these directions are from East to West Travel, for West to East one would have to reverse the directions. [emoticon]

South and East of Big Bend:
Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site is located west of Comstock near Langtry in Val Verde County. I have this one on my to see list someday. We have stopped at the Langtry Visitor Center and at the Pecos River Overlook. I love the history of the area. But have not gotten to visit Seminole Canyon. We have never stopped at the Alamo Movie Set in Brackettville Texas, but it could be on the way to the Langtry area. Brackettville began as the home of Fort Clark, built by the U.S. Cavalry in 1852 to protect the frontier from hostile Indians. Through the years it was home to many famous names in the military world including General George S. Patton. During World War II, Fort Clark served as a German POW camp. Also in the same area, Kickapoo Cavern State Park.

North and West of Big Bend:
Monahans Sandhills State Park is about a half-hour's drive west of Odessa. A neat place, it seems, but I have never stopped.


Fees Etc.

Perhaps some of this will be of help if you are traveling from the West (Arizona) to El Paso Area:

NM, AZ & TX ** Public Camping NM ** Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge * Bosque * Best in Winter

Camping by Lakes New Mexico ** Pancho Villa SP ** Valley of Fires BLM ** Datil Well BLM ** City of Rocks State Park

Photos City/Rocks ** City of Rocks ** More NM & AZ ** Southern NM to Show Low AZ

In the Bisbee/Tombstone Area, the town of Bisbee itself is neat to walk around in and we enjoyed the art galleries. The Queen Mine Tour was neat, we enjoyed it. Tombstone is a very tourist trap site, if you get my meaning. The old Court House was interesting. Tombstone was the site of a lot of wild west history, but is now very commercial. Neat Tour - Queen Mine
You could use Kartchner Caverns State Park - as base to see both Bisbee & Tombstone in a day trip. When we went to the area last, we stayed in a hotel off I-10 in Benson and did both as a day trip, then drove back to Las Cruces. It was my son-in-laws first time to see them.

Near Wilcox is The Amerind Foundation ( Amerind Art Gallery is Neat ) a ethnological, anthropological, archaeological museum and art gallery with paintings by 20th century Anglo and Native American artists. We enjoyed the art gallery and the museum. A neat out of the way, hidden site in the boulders of Texas Canyon. The Amerind is located in Cochise County, one mile south of Interstate 10, only about an hour east of Tucson, between Benson and Willcox. It is easy to find - just look for Dragoon Road exit, #318, and head south until you see mile marker 1 on one side of the road and the Amerind entrance on the other. Amerind.Org Cochise Strong Hold is in the same area, drove to it but did not camp, a nice setting. Cochise Stronghold

Chiricahua National Monument by Willcox is great, been there will go back. Chiricahua NPS but if rigs are too long for the Nat'l Mon Campground in the Coronado National Forest above it you can desperse camp for free.

Close by Chiricahua Nat'l Mon there is the neat ruins of a fort, some hiking to get to it. Fort Bowie National Historic Site is worth the 3 mile round-trip walk for the best experience of Fort Bowie National Historic Site. If you physically can not walk the trail, please contact the visitor center staff at 520-847-2500 for directions to the alternate access. Fort

* This post was last edited 05/19/10 09:59pm by DesertHawk *   View edit history


">DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
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TexasShadow

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Posted: 01/15/10 03:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I suggest:
from El Paso, go down into the park from Alpine.
you come out at Terlingua which is more or less centered between the national and state parks.
there is an rv park at Terlingua: Big Bend Motor Inn and RV park. It is not fancy, but will serve your needs.
I think you will find some interesting, not hard, hikes up in the Chisos Basin area of the national park.
I can't tell you much about the state park other than the last time I checked, it did not have much in the way of paved roads or developed campgrounds.
But they might have a dinosaur dig going on..they found a big one in there a few years ago.
You might consider a river float trip through the St. Elena Canyon.


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Gezzer

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Posted: 01/15/10 04:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Even tho the 2 parks are about 20 miles apart - they are very different. I would do both if I had the time. At least drive from Presidio to Terlingua and then visit the NP. Both parks are huge - the SP over 300k acres and the NP over 800k acres.

The SP is primitive camping only. If you drive FM170 from Presidio to Terlingua you are following the Rio Grande and the southern edge of the park. Other than FM170 - there are NO paved roads into the SP. It is being kept as primitive as possible - with hiking - horse back riding - 4 x 4 driving and biking the main attraction.

There are NO services in the interior of the park. They do have rooms to rent at the Sauceda (which is the headquarters for the former ranch) and you can arrange in advance for meals. DO NOT try to take your MH into the interior of the park.

There is a campground at Lajitas that will accommodate your rig. They have full hook ups and the last I heard were charging about $25 per night.

The NP has many primitive cg's - 3 more developed cg's. You will NOT be able to use the Chisos Basin cg as there is a 25ft limitation due to the road into the Basin. There is one developed FHU cg and it should be able to fit your rig. We have camped there in a 36 ft MH.

There is a website - www.bigbendchat.com that is written for and by Big Bend fans. It is full of information on both parks.

Safe travels

Judy

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Posted: 01/15/10 10:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We never made it to BBSP, as BBNP was big enough for us to use up the week we had to spend there. About half way through our visit, we found three pamphlets we wished we had from day one. They are "Hiker's Guide", "Backcountry Road Guide", and "Paved Road Guide". They are available at the visitors centers, or from the Big Bend Bookstore. The road guides give interesting little tidbits based on the road mileages, so get one as soon as you can so when you're driving through the park, you can be using them immediately. At $2.00 each, you can't go wrong!

BBSP also has a Backcountry Road Guide online. Sure looks like some rugged roads in there!

Another interesting place to camp on the way in or out is Davis Mountains SP near Fort Davis. At 5000'+, it's noticably cooler than the surrounding areas.


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Dawndelion

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Posted: 01/15/10 10:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We've been to both. The State Park was planning on adding electric and water campsites when we were there last (about 4 years ago). I don't know if they did. We have a 34' Winnebreako and found one area that was large enough for any size MH to dry camp in. We really liked the State Park but there weren't many places you could park a 40' rig.

The National Park has tons of hiking trails. I would recommend staying in the National Park and taking in the State Park as a day trip to see what you think.


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chamberlaincourt

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Posted: 01/18/10 08:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you very much to all of you! What wonderful information! We will be thanking you all on our trip for being so kind to share so much with us!

2gypsies

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Posted: 01/16/10 10:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will not be able to stay at the state park with your motorhomes. It's very primitive.

We've stayed often at Rio Grande Village campground in the national park. This is a treed, beautiful campground with lots of space from your neighbor - no hookups but has a dump station. Would recommended you arrive early morning if you don't have reservations.

Right next door is a concessionier-run rv park with full hookups but the sites are in a row right next together and parking is on a asphalt parking lot.

We'd recommend you stay IN the national park itself, not on the outskirts. The park is HUGE and to enjoy the hiking trails, you would be driving a lot of extra miles otherwise. Have a great time. It's a favorite for us.


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Dawndelion

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Posted: 01/16/10 02:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LindaAnn mentioned this "There is a small Mexican village on the other side, and they bring little trinkets and leave them for you to buy, but do NOT cross over to their side! That is illegal."

FYI, it is illegal for the villagers to bring their items across the river for sale and it is illegal for you to purchase them on the U.S. side. They can be confiscated if you do.

I think it's a shame that the border crossing there was closed. I understand why but still think it's a shame.

LindaAnn

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Posted: 01/15/10 08:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We visited Big Bend Natl Park in May of last year. We stayed at Big Bend RV park in Study Butte/Terlingua and found it to be just fine. From there it's only about 3 miles to the Park entrance. We took several day trips into the park--the scenery was beautiful and it was not crowded. At the park entrance, they will give you a map and any help in seeing all the drives. One drive takes you to Santa Elena Canyon for a great view of the Rio Grande. Another lets you walk right down to the river. There is a small Mexican village on the other side, and they bring little trinkets and leave them for you to buy, but do NOT cross over to their side! That is illegal.

The River Road drive to Persidio is really beautiful and along the way you will see the remains of a western movie/TV set.

We saw a lot of interesting wildlife--some I can't remember the names, but a kind of wild pig, species of antelope, lots of little prairie dogs and roadrunners. One morning at the RV park, I took a walk along a hillside, suddenly had the feeling something was behind me, turned around and trotting along were 2 coyotes, who just glanced at me and kept trotting!

We don't eat out a lot when we travel, but there was a little cafe across the highway from the RV Park in Study Butte; the Starlight Theater restaurant in Terlingua had the best filet mignons I've ever tasted, and for something different the La Kiva Restaurant is good. Also, between Study Butte and Terlingua there is a small grocery/cafe where the lady makes homemade tamales for sale.

I loved Terlingua, part of which is a ghost town, with an old cemetery and old buildings. I just wandered around there a couple of days. The store there (where locals sometimes sit and talk and play the guitar) you can get a map showing all the ghost town places.

Whatever you do or wherever you decide to stay, I hope you have a wonderful time!





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