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Big Bend National Park

Saturday, October 26, 2024 - Saturday, November 2, 2024 -- $1675 ★

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. We will be base-camping and day-hiking many of the premier trails in the park frin the Window Trail to Santa Elena Canyon to the Lost Mine trail and culminating atop 7825' Emory Peak (the highest peak in the park).

We will end the trip with a visit to Big Bend's natural Hot Springs for an outdoor soothing soak just steps away from the Rio Grande River with a close-up view of Mexico. Note: It's pretty easy to swim over to Mexico, although we would never escort you nor suggest that you do so.

Important! Water will be scarce during the hike. Be prepared to carry 4 liters (8 pounds) of water in your pack. But don't be discouraged since we're only carrying day-packs'. So come see a wild and largely unhiked section of the country, and get fitter / improve body composition.

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. November temperatures average in the mid 60s to 70s during the days and the 30s and 40s at night. 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 with an occasional stiff wind that made wind-chill nearly unbearable. And in 2017, we experienced all-day 100 degree exposure in the desert. This is not to frighten you, only to make sure you are prepared for a wide variety of weather extremes.

Probable Trip Leaders

Dan Shafto
Bruce Cannon
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


Trails in Big Bend are generally well-groomed although there can be a fair amount of climbing and descent, especially summitting Emory Peak, Expect to be exposed to the sun all day on some trails. And be prepared for cold night temperatures. But overall, this trip is attainable by most people.


$1675 per person double occupancy. You will be responsible for transportation to and from Midland/Odessas (MAF) as well as personal equipment, any restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 6 nights in a frontcountry campground, 6 days of trail meals, airport transfers, ground transportation to/from/within the National Park, park permits, park entrance 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.


We will stay in the Chisos Basin frontcountry campground all week. The upper Chisos Basin will be undergoing a massive construction project and will be closed for the duration of our trip. This means that the camp store and ranger station (as well as lodge) will be closed during our trip. It also means that the group campsites are closed and we will therefore camp in multiple individual sites depending upon the size of our group.

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Saturday, October 26, 2024

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

Either take the free airport shuttle to local hotel or we will pick you up as you arrive (you may have to wait up to an hour to consolidate airport trips)

We will assemble at: MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center Odessa, 5200 E. University Blvd., Odessa, TX, 79762, (432) 368-5885.

As you arrive, we will perform a a quick equipment shakedown. We expect to have done this online prior to the trip and will only be looking for obvious last minute omissions such as water containers, day pack, hiking shoes etc.

Make-your-own trail mix from our assortment of ingredients

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

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: Chisos Basin Campground, Window View Dr, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834. Site(s): 019, 020 Elevation: 5400'

Shuttling will take about 4.5 hours

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at Chisos Basin Campground, Window View Dr, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834. Site(s): 019, 020 Elevation: 5400'

Sunday, October 27, 2024

Start hiking from camp, elevation 5090'

Day-Hike 2.1 downhill miles on the Window Trail to the Window, elevation 4420'

Hike 3.5 miles back to camp, taking a side trip to the Window View Loop trail, elevation 5380'

Mileage Today: 5.6. Total mileage: 5.6

Camp at Chisos Basin Campground, site(s) 019 & 020

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Monday, October 28, 2024

We have 3 hikes scheduled for today. This is best done on a hot day when the shade of the Santa Elena Canyon walls and the cool temperature of the Rio Grande River become a respite from the unrelenting sun.

Shuttle to the Burro Spring Trail off of Burro Mesa Spur, elevation 3115'

Hike about 2.4 out-and-back miles on the Burro Spring Trail, elevation 3300'

Shuttle to the Chimneys Trail off of Old Maverick Rd, elevation 2360'

Hike about 1.4 out-and-back miles on the Chimneys Trail, elevation 2420'

Shuttle to Santa Elena Canyon, elevation 2160'

Hike about 1.4 out-and-back miles into Santa Elena Canyon, elevation 2275'

Mileage Today: 5.2. Total mileage: 10.8

Shuttle back to Chisos Basin Campground, site(s) 019 & 020

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Tuesday, October 29, 2024

Shuttle to the Chimneys Trail, elevation 3180'

Hike 9.7 out-and-back miles to the Chimneys, elevation 2550'

Mileage Today: 9.7. Total mileage: 20.5

Shuttle back to Chisos Basin Campground, site(s) 019 & 020

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Wednesday, October 30, 2024

Walk or shuttle to the Lost Mine, elevation 5725'. Parking can be difficult to come by but walking on the narrow, curvy road is not a panacea either.

Hike 4.6 round-trip miles on the Lost Mine Trail, elevation 6830'

Shuttle to the Grapevine Hills Trail, elevation 3490'.

Hike 2.0 round-trip miles on the Grapevine Hills Trail, elevation 3230'

Mileage Today: 6.6. Total mileage: 27.1

Shuttle back to Chisos Basin Campground, site(s) 019 & 020

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Thursday, October 31, 2024

Wake up extremely early in anticipation of a long day of summitting Emory Peak. Please note: When you get to Emory Peak, there is a steep 50 meter rock scramble to the summmit at the very end of the climb. Some people are not comfortable doing this because of the drop-offs and some people are not comfortable with the physical scrambling. But the rewards are great for those intrepid participants who make it to the very top.

Day-Hike 9.9 miles on the Pinnacles Trail and Emory Peak trail to the summmit of Emory Peak, the highest point in Big Bend National Park, elevation 7825'.

Enjoy the amazing views.

Mileage Today: 9.9. Total mileage: 37.0

Camp at Chisos Basin Campground, site(s) 019 & 020

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Friday, November 1, 2024

Pack up camp and shuttle to the hot springs parking lot, elevation 1850'

Day-Hike a 1.2 mile loop, elevation 1960'

Spend about an hour (or more) in the Hot Spring and Rio Grande River. You can purchase authentic Mexican trinkets on the USA side of the river. You may also be able to swim over to the Mexico side and buy some tacos without ever getting out of the water.

End of hiking

Mileage Today: 1.2. Total mileage: 38.2

Possible bailout: Chisos Basin

Shuttle back to Midland/Odessa

Shuttle back to local hotel: MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center Odessa, 5200 E. University Blvd., Odessa, TX, 79762, (432) 368-5885.

Gather your off-trail items from storage

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

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 2, 2024

Either take a free airport shuttle or we will drop you at the airport in the morning. If there is no free shuttle and your flight leaves later than mid-morning, you will probably have to get a cab / Uber at your own expense.

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