Big Bend National Park - Nov 2017

fike

Adventurer
#16
Pine Canyon Campsites

Another campsite that I checked out was Pine Canyon 1,2, and 3.

Pine Canyon 1 is fairly boring. It is at the bottom, along the intersection of Pine Canyon and Glenn Springs roads. It has some wide vistas across the valley and would be easy for a normal car to get to. I didn't take any pics.

Before you reach Pine Canyon 2, there is a difficult spot that was okay for Subie, but would not work for a 2-wheel drive vehicle or a lower AWD vehicle. Getting up with a sube required picking a good line, getting a little bit of momentum and letting it's electronic traction control kick in. It would be easy in most four-wheel drive trucks. I took a pic, but as all of you (undoubtedly) know, taking pics of rough roads never captures the difficulty of the terrain. There were several ruts that lifted at least one of Subie's tires. The ruts were deep enough to scrape bottom of 8.5" of clearance (as much as a grand cherokee, by the way). The little segment was steep and probably gained ten feet of vertical in a short space (I have no idea how long, but it was steep).

Big_Bend_TX_Day2-E-M1MarkII-00561-crop-small.jpg

Pine Canyon 2 is nice, but the drive to Pine Canyon 3 is trivial. There aren't ANY challenging spots between Pine Canyon 2 and 3, so if you get up the little steep spot, go to #3. Here are a few shots that give you an idea of the cozy shelter of the canyon at 4,100' above sea-level.

Four thumbs up for site 3.

In this first shot, you are heading up to the left of that small mound in the center foreground.
2047_a_BIG_BEND_TX_DAY7_TO_ABILENE-E-M1MARKII-02089 Panorama-small.jpg

In this second shot, you are going through a narrower part of the canyon.
2046_a_BIG_BEND_TX_DAY7_TO_ABILENE-E-M1MARKII-02107 Panorama-small.jpg

In this final shot, you are deeper into the canyon. This view is from Campsite #3 as the canyon opened up a little bit..
1941_a_BIG_BEND_TX_DAY7_TO_ABILENE-E-M1MARKII-02082 Panorama-small.jpg

I didn't go into campsite 4+, so I don't have info about the road. Actually, because I was alone, I walked from campsite 2 to campsite 3, and I was tired of walking. I felt really stupid when I found the road to #3 to be so gentle and easy. That first little challenging spot functions to keep out anyone except those with a rugged vehicle.
 
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fike

Adventurer
#17
A few shots of our campsites

Here are a couple shots of our campsites.

Here is the sunset at Glenn Springs
Big_Bend_TX_Day1-E-M1MarkII-00407.jpg

Here is the sunrise at Grapevine Hill
Big_Bend_TX_Day3_Cottonwood-E-M1MarkII-00709.jpg
 
#18
Before you reach Pine Canyon 2, there is a difficult spot that was okay for Subie, but would not work for a 2-wheel drive vehicle or a lower AWD vehicle. Getting up with a sube required picking a good line, getting a little bit of momentum and letting it's electronic traction control kick in. It would be easy in most four-wheel drive trucks. I took a pic, but as all of you (undoubtedly) know, taking pics of rough roads never captures the difficulty of the terrain. There were several ruts that lifted at least one of Subie's tires. The ruts were deep enough to scrape bottom of 8.5" of clearance (as much as a grand cherokee, by the way). The little segment was steep and probably gained ten feet of vertical in a short space (I have no idea how long, but it was steep).

View attachment 427422
PC4 is the best campsite we found in the entire park, its absolutely MAGIC!

Also you could totally do that road in a 2WD I believe, I drove about 200+ miles in the park and never had to engage 4WD. Im in a T100 with no fancy lockers or anything either. Its bumpy but passable.
 
#19
I did Black Gap solo in October in a 2012 Tacoma with a FWC on back. They had a fair amount of rain the weeks before so there were some significant washouts that required building up the road a bit. At the gap, the drop off was pretty big so spent a bit of time building up a ramp but got through fine.

That whole park is truly amazing.
 
#20
I did Black Gap solo in October in a 2012 Tacoma with a FWC on back. They had a fair amount of rain the weeks before so there were some significant washouts that required building up the road a bit. At the gap, the drop off was pretty big so spent a bit of time building up a ramp but got through fine.

That whole park is truly amazing.
Thanks for doing the work. I'm guessing that saved me from doing it :)
 
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#22
Thank you for sharing, this seems be almost the only place in Texas to run any real off road time. The pointers are really good.
A lot of people forget about PINS (Padre Island National Seashore). It's 60 miles in one direction of pure barrier island, natural, uninhabited beach driving. If you've never done it, it's most certainly worth the trip for a weekend. Check with the park office as weather can easily alter the makeup of the beach and there are definitely areas that require high speed and good flotation.

I will agree to the fact that Big Bend is probably the best area in Texas to off-road in an expanse, but there are lots of other areas to explore as well, enter Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the country.
 
#23
Thanks for sharing OP! I need to start to explore the trails and camp sights out there, we are planning on a Marfa and Big Bend trip in May. It seems there are a lot of options when it comes to trails and places to camp for the night. Any recommendations on threads, web-sites, or books on the topic specific to overlanding/4x4 travel?
 
#24
Some reading and interwebs communities to consider

Thanks for sharing OP! I need to start to explore the trails and camp sights out there, we are planning on a Marfa and Big Bend trip in May. It seems there are a lot of options when it comes to trails and places to camp for the night. Any recommendations on threads, web-sites, or books on the topic specific to overlanding/4x4 travel?
May I suggest Big Bend Chat as a forum for gaining some perspective on the Big Bend area. There is a sub-forum for Big Bend Ranch State Park, also. I will also suggest a copy of the more recent edition of "Roadside Geology of Texas" (by Darwin Spearing, 1991) and the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology publication "Geology of Big Bend Ranch State Park" as well as the classic reference "The Big Bend of the Rio Grande; a guide to the rocks, landscape, geologic history, and settlers of the area of Big Bend National Park" by Ross Maxwell, 1968. Maxwell became the first Superintendent of Big Bend NP. Maxwell's is a very entertaining read and has enough real geology to please geologists. Similarly, Spearing's "Roadside Geology" is written for non-geologists and points out a lot of interesting features to occupy one's mind during the days-long drive to BBNP. It also has an entire chapter devoted to the roadside (and 4WD trailside) geology within BBNP. The BBRSP publication includes a huge and detailed geologic map with topographic contours and most if not all of the roads and hiking trails, thus enabling the both geologist and the lay person to see just how the geology creates and controls the topography which itself controls the manner by which we can (or can't) access BBRSP by vehicle.

Foy
 
#25
ABefore you reach Pine Canyon 2, there is a difficult spot that was okay for Subie, but would not work for a 2-wheel drive vehicle or a lower AWD vehicle. Getting up with a sube required picking a good line, getting a little bit of momentum and letting it's electronic traction control kick in. It would be easy in most four-wheel drive trucks.
I've been up and down pine canyon a dozen times in a BMW X5, in the rain and even snow - no problem. I've seen an airstream parked up there. Some of the PC spots are good, but some are right on the road and there's a decent amount of hiker traffic coming and going. I much prefer driving down to rice tank or chilicotal if they're available. Less traffic and farther off the road, but still decent access to the highway if you want to see more of the park.
 
#26
May I suggest Big Bend Chat as a forum for gaining some perspective on the Big Bend area.
Had a ranger tell me last month that BB Chat was a bit of a hassle for them due to the amount of misinformation that gets posted there, so take what you read with a grain of salt.
 
#27
Sometimes roads change.


I've been up and down pine canyon a dozen times in a BMW X5, in the rain and even snow - no problem. I've seen an airstream parked up there. Some of the PC spots are good, but some are right on the road and there's a decent amount of hiker traffic coming and going. I much prefer driving down to rice tank or chilicotal if they're available. Less traffic and farther off the road, but still decent access to the highway if you want to see more of the park.
 
#28
May I suggest Big Bend Chat as a forum for gaining some perspective on the Big Bend area. There is a sub-forum for Big Bend Ranch State Park, also. I will also suggest a copy of the more recent edition of "Roadside Geology of Texas" (by Darwin Spearing, 1991) and the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology publication "Geology of Big Bend Ranch State Park" as well as the classic reference "The Big Bend of the Rio Grande; a guide to the rocks, landscape, geologic history, and settlers of the area of Big Bend National Park" by Ross Maxwell, 1968. Maxwell became the first Superintendent of Big Bend NP. Maxwell's is a very entertaining read and has enough real geology to please geologists. Similarly, Spearing's "Roadside Geology" is written for non-geologists and points out a lot of interesting features to occupy one's mind during the days-long drive to BBNP. It also has an entire chapter devoted to the roadside (and 4WD trailside) geology within BBNP. The BBRSP publication includes a huge and detailed geologic map with topographic contours and most if not all of the roads and hiking trails, thus enabling the both geologist and the lay person to see just how the geology creates and controls the topography which itself controls the manner by which we can (or can't) access BBRSP by vehicle.

Foy
Thanks for the suggestions, I went ahead and ordered the books, I'll check out the forum soon.
 
#29
Anybody going to Big Bend during spring Break? I may be down there March 14th to March 18.

If anybody knows of a forum or people heading that way during those days, please share a link here so I can check it out.

I hear it will be very busy during Spring Break. I am looking to experience that.
 
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