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Go West Young Man!


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#1 Hot Toddy

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 04:45 AM

Huy and I are taking a week of vacation and heading west to camp in and around the Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, TX. We will spend one night at San Angelo SP going out and one night at Lake Brownwood SP coming home. Otherwise we plan to camp Davis Mountains & Balmorhea SP and then take day trips to Marfa, Alpine and Big Bend NP. We had hoped to camp a couple of nights at Big Bend, but they are down to one campground at the moment and don't take reservations so we would hate to pull our Casita out there only to find that there is no room at the inn.

 

So, does anyone familiar with the area have a recommendation for two nights of camping in the area? Big Bend SP looks to be all boon-docking, which is an option for us, but anticipate it being hot so would prefer electricity so we can run the AC at night. Maverick Ranch RV Park at Lajitas Golf Resort is another option would hate to be lined up one trailer after another baking in the Texas summer sun. It looks very nice, but we've learned from a bad experience with an RV Park that pictures can be VERY deceiving.

 

Anyway, any recommendations on camping in the Big Bend/Fort Davis areas would be greatly appreciated. If push comes to shove, we can always extend our stay at Davis Mountains and Balmorhea SP but would prefer to be adventuresome. So what say you westward wanders? Any advice?

 

Toddy



#2 clairemr1

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 05:05 AM

todd, there are commercial campgrounds at both entrances to big bend np, with hookups, laundry, groceries, etc.i don't have info on names/prices because i boondocked, as usual, but if you do a search of the area online, you'll find them. you can't miss them, either, you have to pass them going into the park.

    if you go into big bend np itself, take everything you will need. it is a vast area to cover and not suitable for "running to the grocery store for an onion". have fun, it is very beautiful out there.


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#3 DLong

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 08:35 AM

Todd, also check out the Railroad Depot and the Harvey House in Brownwood. The Brown County Museum a castle
like jail is close by also. Just south and east of Brownwood is the town of Goldthwaite home of the Regency Suspension Bridge.
These are on our list of places to go. The Davis Mountains are beautiful we really enjoyed the views. Enjoy
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#4 Bruce44

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 01:02 PM

The camp ground at Balmorhea has no shade, but the pool is nice & water is COLD with lots of shade.  Davis Mts SP is nice with shade in most sites except the loop for the big rv,s.  We usually stay along the creek (both tent camping & with the Casita).  Alpine has at least 2 RV parks.  The RV parks near Big Bend will have no shade & will be hot.  We have never stayed in any of them. You should not have any problem finding a site; most people don't camp there (south of Alpine) this time of year, except in the basin.  There are very few sites an RV can fit & they are probably reserved.  We only tent camp there.  We usually camp in the Casita down by the river from November to March. 



#5 clover

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:08 AM

I would suggest while at the Davis Mtns SP you make a trip up to the McDonald observatory, it's just 10 miles up the road from the state park. 

 

Another suggestion since you will eventually be making a loop back to the DFW area is go north 145 miles to Guadalupe Mountain NP. The hike to the top (highest point in Texas) is very doable and enjoyable. The campground is basically a paved parking lot, no hookups. With that said you are only 35 miles from Carlsbad Caverns NP. 

 

We've been out in that area 6 times in the past several years, mostly winter or late spring (Spring Break from school). Twice in the summer (Buffalo Trails Boy Scout Ranch). We love the area, the elevation makes it tolerable in the summer. In our opinion Marfa & her "lights" (there is a nice observation area they constructed east of town on Hwy 67/90) is a non-event and Marfa aspires to be an "artsy" version of Taos or  Santa Fe, not of interest to us, but maybe for others.

 

You are wise to skip Big Bend in the summer and with only two days to explore, a week would make more sense, split between each end of the park. If you have a small motorcycle there is a lot to see, we use a 1970 Honda CT-90, some of the "roads" I wouldn't want to even take a 4x4 jeep for transportation.


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#6 oregonlavender

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:24 AM

I really had to laugh when I saw the topic and then read the posts. The 'west' is either burning up with wild fires or covered in smoke. I was ready to give some advice for avoiding this. I will crawl back into my Oregon wildfire season quietly.
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#7 Bruce44

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:49 AM

Additional info I did not have time for yesterday:

At Rio Grande Village, they allow generators  on 1 loop; they also have some sites that have full hookups (30?).  They are located an a paved lot with very close parking.  I believe reservations are available for all sites.

Since you live in Dallas, you know what Texas summers are like; the only difference at BB is that the nights will be cooler (much less humidity) & days will have higher temps.  Can be more pleasant than Dallas or Austin in the summer.  In our younger days we have tent camped there when temps were 110 deg. plus; always had a great time.


Edited by Bruce44, 07 August 2017 - 11:13 AM.


#8 Tom Haberski

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:35 PM

I would also suggest a visit to the observatory.  Highly recommended.

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#9 vermilye

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 04:07 PM

A couple of things - 

 

There are three campgrounds within Big Bend National Park.  

 

Rio Grande Village has two sections - a parking lot with hookups next to the camp store that has WiFi coverage.  No cell coverage in either section of the campground (or, for that matter, most of the park). All sites are reservable (and, at least in the cooler months are booked early).  The main section of Cottonwood has no hookups.  Some sites are reservable, but there are quite a few first come sites.  Some of the loops have quite a bit of shade and some are in no generator areas.  Fresh  (somewhat salty) water is available, but not on site.  Bathrooms with running water, but no showers. (There are pay showers & a laundry at the campground store) 

 

On Edit - I see that Rio Grande Village is closed until the fall, so that limits your choices to Cottonwood or Chisos Basin...

 

Cottonwood has no hookups, vault toilets, and little or no shade.  If you are lucky & get a site under a cottonwood tree you might have some, but they were cutting a lot of them down the last time I was there.  No reservations, no store, no WiFi or cell coverage.

 

Chisos Basin campground is at a much higher altitude (and an interesting drive that doesn't allow trailers or RVs longer than 21') that takes reservations for most of the sites.  All are fairly small.  Beautiful views from most of the sites.  There is a store within walking distance (fairly long uphill walk - it is next to the visitor center & hotel.  There is also a restaurant.

 

There is enough to see at Big Bend that I'd want at least a week to explore the area, including a trip across the Rio Grande in a row boat for lunch in Mexico.  I agree with those suggesting a visit other than during summer.  Be careful of Spring Break - it fills quickly, and driving 80 miles to find no first come sites is kinda disappointing!

 

I spent a week at the park in March, 2016 - some pages from my journal start here.  Some photos from a year later at Cottonwood.

 

I've stayed at Maverick Ranch - You will need the hookups - there is no shade.  Here is a photo of site 34:

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Edited by vermilye, 07 August 2017 - 04:23 PM.


#10 juanago

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 06:42 AM

With the higher elevation and "cooler" temperatures at Fort Davis, I would probably opt for staying there the whole time. Plus the trees are large enough there to provide some shade. If you want adventuresome, you could try Seminole Canyon State Park (188 miles from Fort Davis and 40 miles from Del Rio). The daytime temps will probably be 8 - 10 degrees warmer than Fort Davis, about the same as Big Bend. The vegetation maxes out at about 10 - 15 feet tall but most sites have ramadas. Semiole Canyon SP is an interesting park but, for me, more of a late fall - early spring destination.



#11 Hot Toddy

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 05:21 AM

Thanks to all for your solid advice on RV accommodations in the Big Bend area of Texas. I truly appreciate your insight. I think we will simply extend our stay at Davis Mountains SP and take day trips to area attractions and things we want to see. I never did hear back from Maverick Ranch RV Park, so I guess they weren't all that interested in our business. I would rather support our Texas State Parks anyway. We do plan on day tripping to Big Bend NP, Marfa, Alpine, Terlingua and participating in a star watch party at the McDonald Observatory so that ought to keep us busy for a few days. Since we are vacationing from work, we will want some scheduled downtime for R&R as well. Would hate to return to work the following week exhausted. Ha!

Toddy

#12 Tom Haberski

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 12:55 PM

There is a museum on the campus of Sol Ross in Alpine that was worth the visit. 

 

Visit | Museum of the Big Bend

 

Be forewarned.  A day trip to Big Bend N.P. can entail some time and driving.  I recall it was 40 miles from the entrance of the park to where we camped at Rio Grande village....and the road was 40 mph speed limit.  Big Bend.  It is big.

 

Wise to not try and do everything, at once.  Go back to Big bend......when it gets cooler.

 

bon voyage.



#13 Librarianocnj

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:05 AM

Saw someone mentioned the Harvey House. There is a great book about the organization Fred Harvey started and is now Xanterra which runs the concessions an many national parks. "Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West"

Recommend read by your friendly librarian.
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