Recently, Courtney and I took a quick camping trip out to Big Bend National Park in west Texas for a couple of days. It was the first time either one of us had been, so of course we were looking forward to it. Our visit was near the end of their busy season, which worked out perfectly for us in several ways. First, It was a breeze to find a campsite at Chisos Basin (probably the most desired camping spot in the park). In addition to easily finding a campsite, the weather was still very comfortable. The temperatures weren't as cool as they would be if you visit in fall, winter or early spring, but it was still enjoyable enough to be outside during the day. We also encountered some showers on our visit, which helped cool things down as well. It was a quick but fun trip in isolated west Texas. Now for some of the photos and highlights.
We headed out of Austin about 6:30 in the morning and arrived at the park entrance around 1:00 in the afternoon. The total time from Austin to the actual campsite in the park was probably seven and a half hours, give or take 15 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, we went at the end of their busy season (November to May), which allowed for us to find a campsite fairly easy. We set up camp in Chisos Basin. Just as an FYI, the other two developed campsites are Rio Grande Village and Cottonwood. We were hoping that we would get a spot at Chisos Basin as it is generally up to 20 degrees cooler than any place in the park anytime of the year. This made for enjoyable mornings and evenings. It was still fairly warm during the day there, but still comfortable, especially when compared to the rest of the park.
After we set up our camp, we decided to do some exploring in the park for our first afternoon. Big Bend has a few designated scenic drives that you can take. We chose the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which took us from Chisos Basin all the way to Santa Elena Canyon. If you've never been to Big Bend I would recommend doing this drive. It's not the only one that is offered, but it was recommended to us by the park ranger that checked us in and it didn't disappoint. This was also the only time that it rained during the trip. We were lucky enough to catch a storm move in over the desert. The only negative about the drive was that we were not able to cross into Santa Elena Canyon. Apparently rain from the previous day coupled with the scattered heavy showers we had experienced resulted in the river being a little too high to cross. We could have swam it, but both of us had our camera gear and did not want to risk damaging it, so we admired it from the bank of the Rio Grande River. It was still a beautiful sight none the less.
After exploring the park along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, we headed back to camp to enjoy some dinner and the cooler temperatures. The following day we took on the South Rim day hike. It's a full 6-8 hour 13 mile hike that will take you to a beautiful outlook that oversees the park and Mexico. We felt lucky that the weather was again cooperative. It was mild, but not overwhelmingly warm. We took several breaks throughout the hike and finished it in seven hours. We didn't break any records, but a steady pace still. There isn't much else to say about the hike, it had gorgeous views the entire way. Like most landscape nature shots, the photos do not do it justice. After our hike we headed back to camp like the night before to unwind and enjoy some much needed dinner. We took in the sunset at Chisos Basis which is beautiful on a clear evening. It was much clearer than the first night, which allowed us to view the amazing night sky.
Like I said, this was a pretty quick trip. It was a nice little get away for us. It's nice to not be connected to the internet and really enjoy the isolation of the west Texas desert. West Texas has always been, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the state. The skies, the arid dry landscape, there is something about it that just appeals to me. We only sampled a small portion of what the park has to offer and we look forward to making another quick trip out there. Probably when it's cooler in autumn or the winter seasons. More pics from our trip right below.