Thread: BBRSP Texas - Feb 2014 Trip

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331

    Default BBRSP Texas - Feb 2014 Trip

    This trip report is a little past being current, but covers a good portion of the park so I thought Id post it up. We had reserved 4 nights of back country sites in Big Bend Ranch State Park in TX for early February, 2014. It is generally a quiet time of the year in the park. There is a major mountain bike festival in the park later in the month that tends to attract a large crowd. We timed it to be in and out before that happened. Our traveling companions, in a JKU with roof top tent, were making their first tour of the park and escaping the colder winter climate in their home state of CO.
    We made our trip rendezvous in Presidio, TX just to the West of the park around noon. It is the best place to top off the fuel tanks and last minute food items as there is no fuel in the park and limited food.
    We headed in on the 22 mile dirt road toward the ranger station. The entry sign and information kiosk is about 8 miles in. If you arrive late and dont have your camping permits it is also a place you can camp for the night with rest room facilities.
    -

    -
    From there the road winds up and around the hills for the remaining distance into the ranger station. There are plenty of opportunities to pull over and check out the views.
    -

    -
    We made our stop at the ranger station to check in, review the required back country regulations, (bring your own toilet facilities), etc. and were off to our first night campground at Tres Papalotos.
    On the way in we took a detour to the east to explore McGuirks Tanks Campsite and the area around it. There are several old ponds (tanks) that were all dry and some narrow trails to explore.
    -
    -
    We passed some old ranching remnants on the way.
    -
    -
    Before setting up camp we dropped our trailer and ran up to one of the old uranium mines at the top of a hill nearby to catch sunset.
    -

    -
    Great vistas of the area we would be exploring for the next few days.
    -

    -

    -
    There is not much room to turn around up top. More than 2 vehicles and it would be a challenge to maneuver unless you want to try out the strength of the wire mesh over the mine opening.
    -

    -
    As it was getting dark we headed back down to set up camp and sit around a campfire for dinner (fires are allowed, bring your own wood).
    -

    -
    Trip log from the ranger station in to camp.
    -

    -
    This is in the eastern most section of the park, and with a noon time arrival in Presidio is easily reachable before sunset along the main road to the ranger station and continuing on east along interesting but not too technical roads. This is a group site located on an old ranch ruin and there is a vault toilet at this site, (one of the few in the park). There is also an old building with metal roofing that clangs in the wind,
    -

    -
    and a water tank that attracts wildlife to the area.
    -

    -

    -
    The next day we were off to do a morning hike. Typical signs are durable stencil cut steel. We took the left hand branch at this sign.
    -

    -
    Passed this nest next to the road.
    -

    -
    And found our way out to the trail head at this sign.
    -

    -
    Off into the canyon.
    -

    -
    We made our way down the canyon as it got higher and narrower.
    -

    -
    Always time to stop for a shadow picture.
    -

    -
    It narrowed into some slot canyons and required a detour up the side to get around a narrow spot with water.
    -

    -

    -
    We called it quits at this point and headed back out so wed have time to get to our next campsite before dark.
    -

    -
    The next destination was into Fresno Canyon. The road drops into the canyon and runs in the wash headed south with the walls of the Solitario on the east side.
    -

    -

    -
    The Solitario is a collapsed volcanic crater and is one of the geologic features of the park. It is rather large and prominent on the map and shows up nicely on Google Earth with our gps tracks for Day 2 shown, (hikes in red).
    -
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331
    We stopped to do a short hike up into a canyon. It is more of a route than a trail, not named on the park maps but it runs up a wash.
    -

    -
    and passes by Les Portales, (two large cave features high in the cliff)
    -

    -
    as it winds in between the flat irons that make up the outer walls of the Solitario.
    -

    -
    There are a few scrambles up to the area where the cliffs tower above the canyon.
    -

    -

    -

    -
    With the sun getting lower in the sky we headed down canyon some more to find Rincon 1, our campsite for the night. It has a fire ring, a sun shade structure, and a picnic table.
    -

    -

    -
    We had time to explore the area around the site and enjoy the sunset on the hills.
    -

    -

    -
    Pretty much every plant in the area has some sort of sticker on it; this one had long ones, and plenty of them.
    -

    -
    The next morning we had breakfast under the shade structure
    -

    -
    and enjoyed sunrise on the flatirons behind us.
    -

    -
    We packed up camp and headed down canyon and parked off to the side of the main trail.
    -

    -
    The morning hike was up a side canyon that leads West up to the bottom of Mexicana Falls. It is not a marked trail, but just another route up the canyon.
    It is open in the beginning.
    -

    -
    Starts to fill in with small trees
    -

    -
    And even more trees
    -

    -
    And gets up into various rock outcroppings that have been sculpted by the occasional high volume water events.
    -

    -

    -

    -

    -
    You know when you have reached the end when it terminates at a wall with the pool at the base of the falls.
    -

    -
    We headed back down canyon
    -

    -
    With different views of the rock formations.
    -

    -
    We found this scull along the way, (dont know what it is),
    -
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331
    We also found a set of Aoudad horns, (google it), tangled in the debris from the last water flow.
    -

    -
    Pam for Scale we left them on the rock.
    -

    -
    Back out to the Jeeps and we continued to the southern end of the canyon to the limit of the motorized vehicle trail. Mountain bikes can continue further south all the way to the paved road that parallels the Rio Grande.
    We parked here
    -

    -
    and explored the ruins of the Crawford-Smith Ranch site with several buildings.
    -

    -

    -

    -
    We had lunch in the shade of the trailer.
    -

    -
    And then headed back up the canyon with several stops to check out the rock formations.
    -

    -
    On our way by we stopped at the ranger station to check in for our next two campsites, pick up a bag of ice and head on out. Water and showers are also available at the ranger station. Our destination for the night was Pila De Los Muchachos, situated in a high saddle.
    -

    -
    We set up camp before sunset and climbed the adjacent hill for views looking down into camp,
    -

    -

    -

    -
    back into the park toward the Solitario,
    -

    -
    and off into Mexico.
    -

    -
    Overview Map of Day 3
    -

    -
    The morning sun illuminated the mountains in Mexico to the south. The Rio Grande runs along the base, no need for a border wall here.
    -

    -
    The start of our fourth day in the park we continued to the end of the road for a hike out to a spot looking down into Fresno Canyon.
    -

    -
    At one overlook you can see back down to the Crawford-Smith Ranch site in the bend of the canyon below.
    -

    -
    Another spur trail runs up along the side canyon we had hiked the previous day to a point overlooking Mexicana Falls and the pool below.
    -

    -

    -
    The view looking east along the canyon hike leading to Mexican Falls with the Flat Irons of the Solitario in the background.
    -

    -
    On the other side of the road we did a loop hike out from Chorro Vista campsite that overlooks the valley below
    -

    -

    -
    And Madrid Falls, the second tallest water fall in Texas, (Mexicana Falls is the third tallest). There was not much water flowing, and being fairly high above it, it was not the most impressive water fall weve seen.
    -
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331
    The views from the ridge are quite nice,
    -

    -
    And these small flowering cactus were interesting.
    -

    -
    We had lunch in the parking area for Chorro Vista campsite. It is one of our favorite campsites, but was closed to camping this trip because they had set up a radio repeater with solar array to support communications for the upcoming mountain bike festival.
    -

    -
    After lunch we headed off to our last campsite for the trip. Our route took us across the unmaintained road heading west to Gualle II. There was one steep section with loose rock that stopped our Jeep and trailer with wheel spin half way up. Lockers engaged and we crawled up and over. As usual the pictures dont make it look that bad.
    -

    -
    The unencumbered JKU had no issues with just 4WD and no lockers engaged.
    -

    -
    We intersected the trail headed south to the campsite and made several stops to check out the views and agricultural remnants. These were used to chop up local vegetation for cattle feed.
    -

    -

    More views along the road headed out toward Gualle II
    -

    -

    -

    -
    We were welcomed to the camp site by great views,
    -

    -
    and the appropriate metal sign,
    -

    -
    We set up camp and relaxed for bit.
    -

    -
    Then it was time to explore the surrounding area, cameras in hand to catch the fading daylight from high on the ridge.
    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -
    Overview Map of Day 4
    -

    -
    We woke to another brilliant blue sky with some cloud accents.
    -

    -
    Time for some sunrise photos of camp
    -

    -
    and a breakfast of pancakes
    -
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331
    We explored the rock formations in the area a little before we hit the road.
    -

    -

    -

    -
    Time to get on the road. This was the climb out from the campsite,
    -

    -
    The view north from the first ridge,
    -

    -
    And out across the desert.
    -

    -
    The road out to Gualle II is fairly bumpy and slow. Back on the main dirt road we enjoyed the views as we headed out of the park.
    -

    -
    We stopped at Fort Leaton back on the paved road for lunch and to air up. Inside the fort they have a wagon like those used back in the day, (by the hundreds) to move supplies in the area.
    -

    -
    Overview Map of Day 5
    -

    -
    And when you put all the tracks together it looks like this. From Presidio out into the Park and back to Fort Leaton we covered 166 miles of mostly dirt roads, and hiked another 17 miles.
    -

    -
    We parted company with our Colorado travelers as they could headed west on their way toward home.
    We headed north through Marfa
    -

    -
    Past its scenic court house,
    -

    -
    and up to Fort Davis. We opted to stay at the Indian Lodge in Fort Davis State Park due to a less than optimal forecast.
    -

    -
    From up on the ridge in the park the views to the south look over the high desert,
    -

    -
    And down over the town of Fort Davis.
    -

    -
    To the north the clouds from an approaching cold front were working their way in.
    -

    -
    In the morning we had a wet snow falling. We departed to the southeast through Alpine to stay on a more major road. It was the most snow we had seen in Texas in quite a while and not a snow plow in sight. The Jeep and trailer did fine.
    -

    -

    -

    -

    -


    -

    -

    By the time we made it to I-10 at Fort Stockton for a gas stop we were in a steady rain. The trailer drew some looks from folks that were traveling I-10 and had no idea it was snowing in the high country to the south.
    -

    -

    -
    The snow we collected on the trailer was washed off soon enough. A quick 10 hours headed east on I-10 and we were home again.
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    iowa usa
    Posts
    469
    nice report
    thank you

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Canton MS
    Posts
    225
    Awesome report. I'm super jealous of the hikes. I really need to make time to do some hiking.

    Thanks for the link!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    America
    Posts
    1
    That is a wonderful trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Spring,TX
    Posts
    331
    Quote Originally Posted by Carlim5v View Post
    That is a wonderful trip.
    Thanks for the comments all, and Carlim5v, looks like your first post.
    2016 Ram 2500 CTD w/ FWC
    2011 Tacoma TRD
    2006 Rubicon Unlimited w/ AT Horizon trailer
    1992 Montero RS (Retired)
    1986 Isuzu Trooper (Retired)
    1981 Toyota 4x4 Pickup (Retired)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pearland, Texas
    Posts
    1,375
    Great thread and pictures.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •