This post took way to long for me to get up, I just didn’t want to believe this trip I looked so forward to was done and over with. But spoiler alert: we loved it & are trying to make time for another trip during cooler weather.
Where We Stayed:
- We booked a tipi on airbnb from Tin Valley Retro Rentals, it was a perfect get away! Our tipi was equipped with a king size bed & futon, a fan for the night & an extension from the solar panel to charge our phones. But it was pretty darn primitive, it was camping without having to set up camp pretty much. For us, it was the perfect setup. No it didn’t have a bathroom, it had a bucket though… there was a bath house up the road we could walk to for showers & times we didn’t want to use the great outdoors or bucket 😉 Also, we had a fire ring & charcoal grill. Our camp site was a 45 minute drive into Big Bend National Park (mostly because the dirt road that led out of the camp site) **Note: I think that the tipi we stayed in changed owners so I’d suggest staying in the Blue Lizard Tipi to have a similar experience with a great airbnb host (Ronda with Tin Valley Retro Rentals ).
What We Did:
- Well we hiked, we hiked a lot. Micah (who’s 8) was such a little trooper! He logged in over 8 miles of hiking in the first day in the park. All the trails we hit didn’t disappoint!
- Played in the Rio Grande river, it was low & cool in one spot that didn’t have lots of people.
- At evenings at the campsite we played with rocks, ran around, made dinner, ate s’mores upon s’mores & star gazed. The stars guys, AMAZING.
- Relaxed & relaxed.
What We Explored:
- Window Trail (5.6 miles round trip) – Although 5.6 miles seems like nothing, you’ve got to take the extreme change in elevation & the return being uphill. PHEW! That was an amazing trail & the extreme drop off at the window makes your heart race.
- Hot Springs Historic Trail (1 mile round trip) – The hot springs in summer, yeah…not a good idea! They were just about boiling, but we found a area that let into the Rio Grande & enjoyed playing in the river. The water was so refreshing to sit in & we played with the river rocks during this lazy afternoon.
- Mule Ears Spring Trail (3.8 miles round trip) – A trail through a rocky dessert that started at the foothills of the Chisos Mountains, there are lots of steps & ups/downs through this trail that makes it almost comical at the lack of elevation that is marked on this trail. But you for sure get your steps in 😉 The spring is overgrown but a very nice shaded spot to sit for a rest after trekking through the dessert.
- Grapevine Hills Trail (2.2 miles round trip) – To get to this trail you first drive 6 miles down a rocky dirt road & I’ve got to say, every drive is a very scenic route in this park. The trail follows a gravel wash & then the real fun in the last quarter of the trail where you get to climb this gorgeous boulder to see the balanced rocks.
- Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive – Miles and miles of winding roads with the most views. Make sure to stop at Castolon Historic District & enjoy the jaw dropping sight of Santa Elena Canyon.
What We Ate:
- Breakfast burritos every morning, I made a huge batch of them the day before we left & they were a HUGE hit in the mornings. We would throw them in the grill as we got dressed & when we got ready to leave we would put out the fire and pull out the burritos which were amazing before a hike.
- For lunches we took everything for sandwiches (bread, peanut butter, turkey, cheese & mustard) & would make sandwiches in the car as needed. We also kept plenty of fruit & raw veggies to snack on in the car.
- Dinner varied. I had cooked a huge batch of pulled pork the night before we left & took the leftovers for nachos the first night & sliders another night. And we also made little tin foil packets of chicken & veggies.
- Snacking for us was lots of fruit & packs of peanut butter crackers.
- We brought ALL our food for the trip since we didn’t expect to have any place to eat & man that was a great choice.
What Gear We Loved:
- Toddler Backpack for Emily, this backpack was the only way we could have made it through hiking miles upon miles with a two year old. I’ve only worn it once since it’s so comfortable my husband can easily go the whole day hiking with Emily on his back. We’ve taken this on other hikes also, like the one up Enchanted Rock.
- Our backpack & water reservoir – we bought a cheap back pack & water pack last minute. I didn’t want to shell out a lot of money & this duo has been on lots of adventures with us this summer already. I love how light weight the back pack is & it can easily fold up to zip into itself. During hikes I filled the water pack & packed a gallon of water for the family. One reason I didn’t get a water reservoir/pack duo is because a lot of them don’t have space for much.
What to bring to Big Bend National Park
Camelbak – I don’t care how small my hike is, I find it easiest to just strap on my Camelbak (since I keep it stocked on hiking trips) filled with water. It also gives me a place to store anything I might want to store for the hikes (don’t forget to put a map in it). I opted for the 100 oz Camelbak while both of my kids have the Camelbak scout hydration pack (for more ideas for kid’s hiking gear check out this post). I fill my hydration pack every chance I get!
Snacks – I always have snacks in my backpack since I’m always with my family, so I like to be prepared. Even if I was on my own, I would still pack nuts, fresh fruit & a few protein bars.
Sunglasses – These are a must for desserts or near waters, the sun bounces & is extremely harsh on your eyes.
Sunscreen – ALWAYS use sunscreen, even an overcast day can leave your skin vulnerable to the sun. Two sunscreens I like that don’t break me out or feel heavy are this Alba sunscreen & this one from Sunbum, I also keep this stick sunscreen in my bag.
Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes, I usually opt for my Patagonia baseball cap that’s worn well. If you want to keep the sun off your neck, a bucket hat is great for hiking too.
Hiking poles – Hiking poles are great for steep hikes, hikes that tend to have snow/water & for those with bad knees.