Wow, we seriously had no idea this was in TEXAS! A friend told us about this park + we decided to head to it. We actually winged our whole trip, and didn’t plan a thing! Which maybe wasn’t the smartest idea considering we had no service at all in the park to research anything we wanted to do. So old fashioned paper maps & word of mouth recommendations it was! It was actually refreshing not over researching something ahead of time! If you follow us on social media you know that we are on a long road trip right now and if you know me you know i’m a serious planner. I over plan & stress the whole time to accomplish everything. Which stresses Zach out, so I decided to do the opposite of what I’m accustomed to on a trip and wing it all. It has been so nice not having any plans. If we want to change and go in a different direction its not a big deal, because we didn’t have anything planned anyway. I’m actually loving living this way and may never plan again. haha doubt it, but I am loving it for the time being.
Upon first entering the park we knew our first stop was going to get a permit from the park rangers. Since you have to have a permit to stay at the primitive campsites. It was only $12 that was good for 2 weeks. This was our fist time ever doing anything like this, so to say we were naive is an understatement. You’re suppose to know which campsites you want ahead of time to book, because you book each night in advance with the park ranger. There are a lot of good primitive campsites, but some of them you have to have a 4X4 car & high clearance. We don’t have either, so there wasn’t many to pick from because it was spring break season. They didn’t have any permits available the first night we were there, so we stealth camped in an overflow parking lot. Which is never easy with kids, because they are so loud! We woke up to amazing views though. Before we found our spot for the night we did drive down Dagger Auto Trail road & man we just got a taste of how beautiful this place is. Its about a 8ish mile drive down a dirt road. We had no problems with our van.
So like I said we planned nothing, but we knew we wanted to hike. So we looked at their map and saw a 3 mile hike named Emory Peak in Chisos mountains. We thought perfect 3 miles round trip is a great first hike and the other ones looked way longer. We drove around for a while to find the trailhead to park. We didn’t have any luck, but we saw a big parking lot and it looked like an area where all the trail head signs were. So we parked there & got all our stuff together. We walked where everyone was and saw a sign that said Emory Peak 5.3 miles with an arrow pointing the way. We said hmm, maybe the map was wrong and its 5.3 miles round trip. Which wasn’t a big deal. We saw a ranger on mules and we asked him if that meant 5.3 miles to the trailhead or round trip. He said round trip. So off with our hike we started. Let’s just say we had NO IDEA what we were about to get into. We just kept walking and admiring all these beautiful mountains around us, still having no clue we were about to climb the tallest mountain peak there. We kept saying to ourselves surely the trailhead will pop up soon. So we kept going. It wasn’t until we got over halfway up we realized it was 5.3 miles to the trailhead then 1.5 miles up to the peak, 1.5 miles down & another 5.3 miles back to where we started. At this point our brains weren’t thinking logically because we kept going. We couldn’t give up, haha. It was funny because we had so many people stop us and tell us how admirable it was for us to hike with kids on our backs. We kept thinking its just 3 miles, LOL see how naive we were. I will say it was totally worth it for the beautiful views. I’m thankful we didn’t know where we were hiking, because as we were looking at the top of mountains passing us by we would have stopped if we knew we were going to the top. We actually only made it to the trailhead and didn’t finish the last 1.5 miles up to the peak, because we just ran out of time. We started hiking at 10:30am and knew we had to have enough time to get back before dark since we were in mountain lion + bear country. lol I still feel like we accomplished a lot because we did this with two heavy kids and back packs. Thankfully I thought I over packed on water, but we had just enough. I would deff recommend this hike, even if we were sore for 7 days after HA.
After the hike we made our way to our first official camp spot. It was nine point draw & so far our favorite camp spot. The area was huge and we didn’t have to worry about snakes as much with the boys. Somehow I got the energy to cook dinner after the hike. Let’s just say we slept good that night.
The next day we headed down to the south part of the park. We tried to go to the hot springs, but it was in the middle of the day and packed. I’m so thankful we decided to skip it and try again the next morning. We decided to hike Boquillas Canyon trail, and boy did it offer some beautiful views!
Our camp site this night was called Paint Gap 2. It offered beautiful scenery, but wasn’t as open as our previous campsite. The bushes were extremely tall, so we were cautious watching the boys playing outside. We woke up and decided to head out to the Hot Springs. We were trying to beat the crowd and we went at the perfect time. We got there around 10am and had the place to ourselves for a little bit!
After the Hot Springs, we decided to hit the road. We accomplished so much in Big Bend in just a few short days, but already planning our trip back! We definitely think we came at the perfect time- the weather was perfect! At night it got down to mid to low 40’s and days around 75. We could not have asked for better weather! It’s such a big park you could easily spend 2 weeks in this park exploring everything it has to offer! Who knows, you might even come across a bear or mtn lion!