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Big Bend National Park


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#1 LindaH

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:18 PM

We're talking about going down to Big Bend NP in March. We'll probably be leaving Tucson on Monday, March 12...it's about 650 miles from there down to Rio Grande Village Campground, so we could very well take a week to get there.

That would put us in Big Bend around the week of the 19th. Would we run into college kids on Spring Break then? Any chance of grabbing one of the first-come first-serve sites in Rio Grande Village Campground (the NPS-run park, not the full hookup RV park)?

Do you know if the Campground charges extra for an extra car? There was nothing on the NPS's Big Bend website about that.

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#2 Barbaraok

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:29 PM

Yes, that is Spring Break time in Texas - - but they all don't get the same week off so it is sort of a chance it.

FWIW, we stayed at Stillwater Ranch on the north side of the park, south of Marathon. Really a nice place to stay - even had WiFi (which is good since cell service is a no go) - and drove into the park for day trips.


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#3 dzwiss

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:34 PM

Last time we stayed in Rio Grand Village they didn't turn anyone away. Some folks left every day and those without a site were allowed to park where they could and wait for a vacancy. The hosts were very accommodating.

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#4 Newt

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:13 PM

The first time I went to Big Bend it was March. I'm thinking, "Where did all these people come from. This place is in the middle of nowhere." Then, someone explained to me it was "Spring Break". :lol:

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#5 LindaH

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:05 PM

Barb, we stayed at Stillwell the one and only time we visited Big Bend, but it's a L-O-N-G way from there to anywhere within the park! So this time, we thought we'd stay in the park itself (besides being cheaper...$7 per day with our Senior Pass vs whatever the current cost is at Stillwell).

But I agree...it's a nice place to stay (we stayed there long before Wi-Fi!), and the small museum dedicated to the matriarch of the Stillwell clan, Hallie Stillwell is well worth a stop even if one doesn't stay at their RV park.

Dzwiss...thanks for that information. When were you there? Do you remember whether or not they charged for an extra vehicle?

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#6 Rosita

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:29 PM

LindaH, this information is from the recreation.gov site re: Rio Grande Village campground:

"A maximum of two motor vehicles, one vehicle with a trailer, one motorhome with tow vehicle or four motorcycles allowed per campsite."

There's no mention of additional vehicle fees, but who knows? ;)

#7 Gezzer

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:59 PM

When we volunteered at Big Bend Ranch State Park, which is next door to the NP, spring break usually took place the first 2 weeks of March. The BBR SP website indicates spring break will be March 11 - 18 this year. If you can plan your visit for after that time frame, you should be fine for campsites.

Think about staying at Cottonwood CG on the west side for a few nights and then moving to Rio Grande village or vice versa. The speed limit is 45 on all roads and from east to west, it's a really long way from Rio Grande village to Santa Elena Canyon or the Chisos trailheads. I think you are just a little bit too long to get into the Chisos CG. If I remember right, the length on that road is about 25 ft, but be sure to drive up there with the toad/truck and do some of the hikes.

Cottonwood is no generators at any time. Rio Grande village has a no generator section and a generator section.

I don't know if they charge for a second vehicle, we always just did day trips. The usual "heads up", fill up with diesel/gas, propane and groceries in Alpine before you get to the park, it's a long way to the nearest big grocery.

Enjoy your time in the Bend. I envy your chance to be there.

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#8 dzwiss

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:00 PM

Dzwiss...thanks for that information. When were you there? Do you remember whether or not they charged for an extra vehicle?


The last time we were there was two years ago in March on our way from Arizona to South Texas. We did not stay in the RV park, but in the National Park campground. There was no charge for extra vehicles. Since there is a 14 day limit and a number of non reservable sites there should be a daily turnover. Best bet is to try to get there in the morning as early as possible, which is hard to do because it is far away from anywhere. But as I said the hosts were helpful.

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#9 2gypsies

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:32 PM

It's well worth it to stay at Rio Grande Village which will cut down on your driving. It's in a beautiful setting!! Go to the national park web site and you will see that you can reserve a site if you're concerned. However, they still have non-reservable sites if you want to take a chance. If full, they will put you in an overflow area near the campground and it's very pleasant there, also. As mentioned, Cottonwood campground is nice, too, but doesn't allow generators as Rio Grande Village does. There's no extra fee for a towed vehicle. Have a great time...it's one of our favorite places!

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#10 LindaH

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:43 AM

There's no extra fee for a towed vehicle

That's the problem...our extra vehicle isn't towed. We've been charged extra for the car at some USFS campgrounds because it wasn't towed in...a ridiculous rule, IMO, because the car is there no matter how it got there. But the rule is what it is and there's no arguing with the people in charge (we've tried). That's what prompted my question about extra vehicle fees.

I think you are just a little bit too long to get into the Chisos CG. If I remember right, the length on that road is about 25 ft, but be sure to drive up there with the toad/truck and do some of the hikes. but be sure to drive up there with the toad/truck and do some of the hikes.

We're way too long! The NPS information on Chisos Basin Campground says trailers longer than 24 feet and RVs longer than 20 feet are not recommended (I'm sure they mean motorhomes, since trailers *are* RVs)...not to mention the 15% grade getting into the campground! Our fifth wheel is 32' in length. If we still had our camper, we'd go there even though I'm positive we were longer than 20 feet with the camper on.

Hikes are a problem since we have two dogs and I imagine that dogs aren't allowed on the trails.

We're beginning to think that maybe we should forget Big Bend this year and wait until next year when we won't have the car with us. Then we won't have to worry about being charged extra, even though it would be nice to have the car to travel around inside the park since it gets much better fuel mileage than the truck does!

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#11 Newt

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:09 AM

Linda

IMHO to really enjoy Big Bend, you need a high clearance vehicle to go on the back roads. They say 4WD. But, in reality high clearance will do for 90% of the roads. If you stick to the asphalt, you haven't really had the Big Bend experience. For instance, you can't visit Ernst Tinaja.

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#12 Al Florida

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:39 AM

Linda,

I think you said you have a senior pass. If so your entrance fee is free. The entrance fee is for a week, so even if you have to pay the $20 fee (fee may have just gone up) for the extra vehicle it won't be that bad.

Since one of your vehicles will not be towed, I don't think you can get around the additional entrance fee.

I see that the 19th is a Monday, starting the third week in March. Yes spring break should start tapering off that week, but it will probably be busy. If you could delay your arrival until Sat or Sun the 24-25th most of spring breakers should be gone.

The latter part of March and first part of April should still have cactus in bloom. There may not be a lot of blooms though. Last year was very very dry and still no rain so far this year.

Here is a link to a daily report at BB:
http://www.nps.gov/b...aily_report.htm

Here is a link to the current issue of the BB park newspaper:
http://www.nps.gov/b...s/newspaper.htm

Assuming you will be heading east when you leave BB, take hwy 90 and stop by the Texas Hwy Dept Visitor center in Langtry. Then spend a couple of nights at Seminole State Park and take the guided walk to see the pictogryphs.

http://www.tpwd.stat...eminole_canyon/

I would not pass up BB just because of the extra entrance fee. There won't be an additional fee to park the vehicle in the campground unless you take up a second campsite.

The Rio Grande Village NP campground (dry camping) is a very nice place to camp. You could have some warm afternoons, but it will be very dry if warm, and it will cool down quickly as the sun goes down. You could also have some cool days as well in late March & early April. In case you don't know it, the concession operated full hookup CG is an asphalt parking lot with close together camp sites. Not nice at all unless you can't live w/o hookups.

Have fun!

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#13 LindaH

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:54 PM

The entrance fee is for a week, so even if you have to pay the $20 fee (fee may have just gone up) for the extra vehicle it won't be that bad.

$20 for an extra non-towed vehicle?! That's it...we'll wait until next year when we don't have the car with us!

Since one of your vehicles will not be towed, I don't think you can get around the additional entrance fee.

Nope, no additional entrance fee since we EACH have a Senior Pass.

I would not pass up BB just because of the extra entrance fee. There won't be an additional fee to park the vehicle in the campground unless you take up a second campsite.

OK, I'm confused. I thought you said earlier that we'd have to pay a fee for an additional, non-towed vehicle. As I said, we each have a Senior Pass, so I will not have to pay to get INTO the park...I'm just concerned about paying an extra vehicle fee when we're camping.

In case you don't know it, the concession operated full hookup CG is an asphalt parking lot with close together camp sites. Not nice at all unless you can't live w/o hookups.

Not ever having been down that far into Big Bend, I didn't know what the RV park is like. It's a moot point, though, since we would NOT stay there, but in the NPS-run campground, instead.

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#14 2gypsies

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:11 PM

Why don't you call the park directly and get a correct answer regarding the entrance fee? That would be the most accurate confirmation. Also state that each driver will have the senior pass. I would guess there is no additional fee for the car. Most parks allow two vehicles.

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#15 Al Florida

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:54 PM

Linda,

I'm sorry I added confusion to your quest for information. I can see where I wasn't as clear as I should have been. Hopefully you will be able to gain more info from the links I provided.

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#16 LindaH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:56 AM

Why don't you call the park directly and get a correct answer regarding the entrance fee?

My question isn't concerning the entrance fee...I know we can both get in free since we both have a Senior Pass. My question concerns whether or not we'll have to pay extra for the car to camp in the park because the car will not be towed in, but, rather, driven in separately. We've run into this situation in USFS campgrounds and just wonder if the same thing will apply in a NPS campground.

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#17 tjones1935

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 06:43 AM

Some news from Big Bend:

http://www.statesman...nd-2157840.html
tjones1935

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#18 LindaH

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 08:51 AM

I saw that report on TV last night, although they didn't say WHERE it happened other than "in the mountains." We assumed it happened at Chisos Basin and that the family was hiking...really scary to find out the cat actually came down into a populated area and attacked the boy!

We wouldn't be going to that area anyway since our rig is too long for the road and, according to the NPS website, the campground isn't suited to RVs. If we still had our camper, we might have tried getting in, but after this story, we would NOT go up there since we have two dogs and we certainly don't want to use them as dinner for a hungry mountain lion! <_<

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#19 Newt

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 11:44 AM

local TV showed pictures of the boy. Several stitches in the face from being bitten and clawed. The boy and his mother came out of the restaurant at the Chisos Basis Lodge and the Mountain Lion attacked. There apparently has been another instance with this lion. People were upset that the Lodge didn't notify campers in the basin. I would think the park rangers and/or TPWD will soon take care of this lion.

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#20 Al Florida

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 06:48 PM

Linda,
As long as you don't occupy a second campsite, there is no charge for a second vehicle. Be aware there may not be room to park your 5th wheel tow truck & car in your campsite. You probably have run into that situation lots of times in the past. There is plenty of room up by the gas station/store to park the truck while you stay at RGV.

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