Big Bend National Park – Fall
October 21 - 26, 2019
(6 days, 5 nights; Mon - Sat)Alternate Tour Dates
Includes all lodging, all meals, full-day raft/canoe program, park entrance fees, van shuttle between Midland and Big Bend, leaders, trail maps & narratives.
Timberline van shuttle is provided between Midland and Big Bend N.P. prior to and following tour.
Not included: Airline service to Midland International Air and Space Port, TX, Guide Gratuity.
Hotel: 8 am
Nestled in the southwest corner of Texas, Big Bend National Park is situated along a 107-mile stretch of the Rio Grande, including the point where the river turns sharply to the north (hence, its name, “Big Bend”). This section of the Rio Grande is protected as a Wild and Scenic River and the spectacular limestone gorges through which the river flows are among the astonishing, varied natural features contained within the park’s boundaries. The vast Chihuahan Desert, extending northward from Mexico, dominates a considerable expanse of the park, but standing in stark contrast to the desert lowlands are the rugged, forested Chisos Mountains, whose peaks approach an elevation of 8,000′. Without a doubt, Big Bend offers some of the wildest and unspoiled land remaining in the “lower 48”. This is the setting for our Big Bend National Park Hiking Tour.
Our visit in the fall is typically wetter than in the spring so we are more likely to have enough water to run a rafting trip. It’s also a time that wildlife is preparing for winter. With an estimated 1,100 plant species, 450 species of birds and a wide range of other wildlife, including gray fox, Mexican Black Bear, mountain lion, and mule deer, Big Bend National Park will be alive with activity.
We’ve structured this hiking trip in a manner that will provide the varied experiences that are the essence of Big Bend National Park. We’ll hike the high country of the Chisos, explore the landscapes shaped by erosion of the Window, experience the Chihuahan Desert environment, and enjoy the breathtaking gorges carved by the Rio Grande. A boating journey on the Rio Grande within the park is another bonus feature of this program.
We’ll assemble mid-afternoon of Day 1 at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, our home for the next five nights (we’ll provide a van shuttle from Midland to the park earlier that day). We’ll arrive early enough to hike leisurely along the Windows Trail to the spectacular Window, a pour-off that offers a magnificent view of the desert lowlands (4 miles). Early the following morning on Day 2, we’ll hike from the lodge into the Chisos as we head for the South Rim on what generally is recognized as the quintessential hike in Big Bend. The views along the trail of much of the Big Bend country extending into Mexico are unsurpassed (12 miles).
We’ll head south from the Chisos Basin to the Mule Ears Trail head. Our Day 3 hike to the views of Mule Ears Peaks will showcase the incredible beauty of the Chihuahan Desert at a time when the Chihuahan well may be in full spring bloom. The variety of cacti, yucca, ocotillo and other desert plants along the trail is truly amazing (4.5 miles). Following our Mule Ears hike, we’ll drive to the end of the Ross Maxwell Road and hike along the Rio Grande into the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon (1.7 miles).
We’ve planned a relatively moderate hike to Lost Mine for Day 4, our final trek in the Chisos highlands (4.8 miles). Later that afternoon, we’ll van shuttle to Terlingua with time to explore this old mining camp before an awesome dinner at the Starlight Theater.
On Day 5, we’ll join Big Bend River Tours for a day of rafting (or canoeing, depending on river flow) adventure on the Rio Grande, riding the border between Mexico and the United States. Our exact itinerary will depend on conditions at the time. We’ll spend a final evening at the Chisos Lodge and then hike leisurely through the narrowing canyon atop Burro Mesa the following morning to the spectacular pour-off at the mesa’s southern edge (4 miles). We’ll then shuttle back to Midland later in the day where our Big Bend National Park Hiking Tour concludes.
|Day 1||The Windows Trail. ( approx 500 ft elevation gain); overnight at Chisos Mountain Lodge||4|
|Day 2||The South Rim Loop: Pinnacles, Boot Canyon, Northeast/Southeast Rims, South Rim, Laguna Meadow (approx 2,000-ft elevation gain); overnight at Chisos Mountain Lodge||13|
|Day 3||Mule Ears Peaks; Santa Elena Canyon; overnight at Chisos Mountain Lodge||9|
|Day 4||Lost Mine (1,100-foot elevation gain)||7|
|Day 5||Raft Trip (or canoe in low-water conditions)|
|Day 6||Burro Mesa Pour-off ( approx 500-foot elevation differential)||4|
Total Distance: 41.5 miles
- Chisos Mountain Lodge