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Big Bend National Park, TX

Nov 6 - Nov 13, 2021 -- $1300 ★★★, Only 3 Spots Left

Seldom visited and sparsely populated, Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote and least visited National Parks in the USA. It's an incredibly beautiful and predominantly sunny desert landscape that can scorch your skin or chill your bones ... all in the same day. Our hike will traverse the Chisos Mountains, 7825' Emory Peak (the highest peak in the park) and the famed South Rim before heading down into the desert for a jaunt along the remote and seldom traveled Elephant Tusk Trail.

On our last day, we'll head to the park's natural Hot Springs not far from Rio Grande Village for an outdoor soothing soak just steps to the Rio Grande River with a close-up view of Mexico. Note: The Hot Springs are currently closed as of this writing (November 2020) but they will hopefully be open a year from now. Important! Water is scarce during the hike. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. But don't be discouraged. It's only 16 pounds when you obtain it. It's nearly zero by the time you reach the next water source. Prolong your warm Autumn, see a wild and largely unhiked section of the country, and get fitter / improve body composition.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. November temperatures average in the mid 70s during the days and the 40s at night, which is perfect for backpacking. But we might also experience blazing heat during the day or frigid conditions at night. On the 2008 trip it snowed up in the mountains only to get into the 70s the following day. In 2018, temperatures got down to 15 degrees at one point. And in 2017, it was nearly 100 degrees in the desert. This is not to frighten you, only to make sure you are prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg

2nd guide TBD


$1300 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF) as well as personal equipment, any restaurant meals and gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.

Important Note

Water is scarce in the desert. Expect to carry up to 2 gallons (8 liters) of water or even more as staying hydrated is one of our primary concerns. The arid climate and moderately high elevation will suck the water out of your body without you even realizing it. Unfortunately, water weighs about 2 pounds per liter.

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

We will pick you up and take you to our local hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Odessa, 5221 Jbs Pkwy, Odessa, TX 79762, 432-366-5800

Equipment shakedown in Odessa

Trail mix distribution, Covid permitting

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Buy last minute and forgotten items at Big 5 Sporting Goods, 3875 E. 42ND Street, Odessa, TX, 432-363-9404 or Academy in Midland (5300 W Wadley Ave (at W Loop 250 N), Midland 432-522-6000) open 'til 9PM

Go out for dinner in town (not included in trip price)

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Awaken pre-dawn in anticipation of a long day in getting to the park and shuttling vehicles

"Before" body composition measurements taken again

Free Breakfast at Hotel

Drive to the Big Bend National Park (4 hours)

Stop in Panther Junction Ranger Station (60-90 minutes) to pick up permit and fill water bladders

One guide and one participant drives to Glenn Springs to drop off a shuttle vehicle. Concurrently, we serve the rest of the group lunch at Panther Junction Ranger Station.

Drive to the Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'

Hike 2.5 uphill miles on the Pinnacles Trail

Camp at the Pinnacles, sites PI-2 & PI-3, elevation 6400'

Total today: 2.5 miles. Trip Total: 2.5 miles.

Note: No water in this area, we must carry it in

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Monday, November 8, 2021

Hike 1.0 uphill miles to the Emory Peak Trail, elevation 7000'

Stash packs and Day-Hike 2.5 miles round trip to Emory Peak Summit, the highest point in Big Bend NP, elevation 7825'. To summmit, some non-technical vertical rock scrambling will be required the last few hundred feet.

Don packs and hike 1.0 miles on the Boot Spring Trail to the Colima Trail, elevation 6850'

Hike 0.3 miles on the Boot Spring Trail to the Juniper Canyon Trail, elevation 6850'

Fill water at Boot Spring. Note: Water is not reliably available in extremely dry years, however we have always found water either here or by following the canyon upstream.

Hike 0.5 miles on the Boot Canyon Trail to the Northeast Rim Trail.

Hike about 1.6 miles on the Northeast Rim Trail to the Northeast Rim.

Camp at sites East Rim 6 & 7, elevation 7450'. No facilities here.

There is an amazing view 50 feet from camp

Total today: 6.9 miles. Trip Total: 9.4 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Hike about 1.7 miles on the Southeast Rim Trail to the Boot Canyon Trail, elevation 7200'.

Hike about 1.5 miles on the Boot Canyon Trail to the Boot Canyon Trail to the Juniper Canyon Trail, elevation 6850'

Fill all water vessels from Boot Spring. There is no water tomorrow so camel up here. Note: We will already know if water can be found here. If not, we will be forced to alter our trip itinerary.

Hike about 5.0 downhill miles on the Juniper Canyon Trail to a pair of dispersed at-large campsites, elevation 4150'

Dispersed camp at unnamed wilderness campsite(s), elevation 4150'

Total today: 8.2 miles. Trip Total: 17.5 miles.

Bailout: Juniper Canyon Rd., a lightly used dirt road far from any paved roads

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Hike about 1.2 downhill miles to a dirt parking lot, elevation 3950' (no facilities or water here)

Hike 3.5 rolling miles on the Dodson Trail to Dodson Ranch, elevation 4500'

Hike 1.0 miles to Fresno Creek, elevation 4600'

Dispersed camp just beyond Fresno Creek, elevation 4600'

There is usually water in Fresno Creek this time of year, although we may have to go downstream a quarter of a mile to find some.

Bailout: Juniper Canyon Rd., a lightly used dirt road far from any paved roads

Total today: 5.7 miles. Trip Total: 23.2 miles.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Fill all of your water vessels here. This is the last reliable water to be found on the trip.

Hike about 1.0 downhill miles in the Fresno Creek drainage to the Elephant Tusk Trail, elevation 4200'. There is no real trail here, so be prepared to bushwack in places.

Hike 7.8 downhill miles on the lightly traveled, poorly marked Elephant Tusk Trail to Black Gap Road, elevation 2550'

Camp at Elephant Tusk Drive-up campsite, elevatin 2550'

Total today: 8.8 miles. Trip Total: 32.0 miles.

Bailout: Black Gap Road, a rough 4x4 high clearance road

Friday, November 12, 2021

A car shuttle may be necessary today for 1 guide and 1 participant who would leave camp extremely early or possibly the night before to get our vehicle(s) from the Chisos Basin.

Hike 5.4 miles along Black Gap Road to Glenn Springs Rd, elevation 2450'

Drive to the Hot Springs

Day Hike 0.5 miles round trip to the Hot Springs for a warm soak and a swim in the Rio Grande River

Note: Hot Springs are closed due to Covid at this writing (November 2020)

Total today: 5.9 miles. Trip Total: 37.9 miles.

Possible Bailout: Glenn Springs Road

Drive to the Panther Junction

"After" measurements taken on the flat floor of the Ranger Station

Drive to Ft. Stockton

Dinner and awards ceremony in Ft. Stockton. (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Drive back to Odessa

Check back into local hotel Hilton Garden Inn Odessa, 5221 Jbs Pkwy, Odessa, TX 79762, 432-366-5800

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Free Hotel Breakfast

Free airport shuttle

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