Monday, January 23, 2023

Q&A: What moderate day hikes do you recommend for first time visitors to Big Bend National Park?

Chatting with a Mexican Blue Jay on the Lost Mine Trail

People often ask me questions about travel and outdoor activities. So I’m going to start sharing some of these Q&As on my blog and Facebook page to help others that might have the same questions.

A friend asked...

Hey Troy, how's it going? I know you've been to Big Bend a lot. I wanted ask if you have any recommendations for some moderate day hikes? I'm going out there next week.
I responded...

I recommend The Window Trail, The Lost Mine Trail and Santa Elena Canyon. If you have a high-clearance vehicle check out Balanced Rock. The Window and Lost Mine trails are close to each other. Santa Elena Canyon is about a 45 minute drive.
The park provides a free brochure when you enter and it lists suggested itineraries based on how many days you will visit. It ranks trails by difficulty and length. You can find the abbreviated info on their website or app, however, I believe that it does not describe the difficulty ratings. You may also download AllTrails (paid edition) if you would like help with navigation.
Mostly, factor in that you'll be traveling to an area with dry air and at a higher altitude, so start hydrating on your drive to the park with at least 1 liter of water, hydrate once you arrive at the park with 1 liter and hydrate throughout your stay with 1 gallon per day. 

I'll provide a llnk below to the park's suggested itineraries.

Also, always fill up your car's gas tank before entering the park in either Marathon or Alpine. Once you enter the park, you will find that the driving distance between some of the sites and trails is often very far. From Marathon to Panther Junction is 70 miles or over 1 hour. To travel from the Chisos Basin to Santa Elena Canyon the distance is 45 miles or over 1 hour one way. Driving across the park from the Rio Grande Campsite to Santa Elena Canyon is 65 miles and 1.5 hours one way. There are gas stations near Panther Junction, Rio Grande Village and in Terlingua, but they are not always open.

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Thanks for visiting my website and for leaving a comment. - Troy

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