We've been in Austin for the past week for the wedding of our good friends Arvin and Shelley (congrats again to the happy couple!), so haven't had a chance until now to report back on our trip to Big Bend.
We arrived to BBNP on April Fool's Day, after our stopover at Carlsbad Caverns. It was a long day's drive through western Texas, helping me appreciate how vast this state really is. We were headed for the Chisos Basin, in the park's western, mountainous region and arrived to the campground just as the sun was setting through "the window".
If you're heading to BBNP, I'd strongly recommend you make a reservation for at least the first night, as the first come first serve sites fill up early. And the next morning, you can go find one of those if you want to switch. This is what we did, so our site was waiting for us as we drove up. We spent the next day copping the wireless from the nearby Lodge and preparing for the backcountry trip we were leaving on the next day.
With our permits in order and our packs ready to go, we left early and headed up to Pinnacles trail, a steep hike right up the South wall of the basin. The views were worth the climb as we continued over the mountain ridge and slowly descended into Boot Canyon to our first night's campground.
We departed the Chisos having had a great time so far in BBNP and looking forward to the next two nights in Rio Grande Village. Sadly, even the fish were bored in RGV. Let me explain. We had reserved two nights in this part of the park, lured by the promise of showers and sitting in the hot springs under the stars. But RGV was hot, muggy and buggy. It was too hot for hot springs, and even the ranger admitted that "activities are limited" in that part of the park. We showered, but immediately had to douse ourselves in bug spray to stave off the ravenous mosquitoes, negating the showers.
So with boredom and time working against us, we did the only respectable thing possible: we bought an overprices six pack of Tecate and drank it in our swampy purgatory. Night fell, thank goodness, and we left a day early the next morning and were on our way to Austin.
Overall, Big Bend was breathtaking and definitely worth a visit! Spend some time at Chisos Basin. We alost didnt get to see any of the Santa Elena Canyon area, but have heard nice things. Just don't worry about Rio Grande Village. Will, who we met in Guadalupe Mountains NP and had just come from BB, warned us against going to RGV, but we did not take his advice and regretted it. So please learn from our mistake: go to BB, see the Chisos and anything else you're interested in, but there's really not much to do or see down in RGV.