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Premium Member
2,048 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
~~~~ I'm putting this list here to link to for re-use on future trips and to be of use to others who may need it ~~~~

*** If you have a suggested addition/change, PM me and I'll update the list (to keep the thread from getting cluttered & hard to follow) ***

If you're interested in going to Big Bend, subscribe to this thread. And, if you're planning a trip to Big Bend, feel free to cross-post the link to your trip here - that's not clutter :).

If you haven't read it yet, make sure you read up on tips for visiting the area. Being as prepared as possible can save you from an expensive wrecker service, assuming you can reach anyone! :read: At a minimum, review the following:

If it's your first time to the area and you plan to camp anywhere in BBRSP, call the park first to find out the travel time to your intended campsite. It can catch you off guard and without enough gas if you head into the park not knowing that it can take 2-3 hours to get to some campsites.

Recommended list of basic equipment for exploring back-roads in Big Bend:
Lighter/fire source
Survival knife, sharpened
4-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle (additional armor & skids helpful)
6-ply tires (absolute minimum)
1-2 inflated spare tires
Decent tire repair kit
Plenty of fuel, 5 - 10 gallons (**The need for this will vary based on where you're staying and wheeling. Just don't count on being close enough to a fuel station when you need it.)
Large shovel
Large axe
Small shovel
Rock bar
High-lift jack (at least 48 inches) with accessories
Bottle jack & piece of wood
Heavy-duty nylon recovery strap (3” wide X 20’ long – no hooks)
2 3/4" Screw Pin Shackles (WLL 4.75 ton)
10’ chain with hooks
Tool kit
Abundant drinking water (at least 5 gallons extra in winter, at least 10 gallons extra spring, summer & fall)
Food for at least two days
Work gloves (leather is best)
GPS with extra batteries
First aid kit with Snake Bite Kit and QuikClot
4-way lug wrench or Lug wrench with cheater bar
Air pump
CB Radio
Vehicle specific critical spares
Extra air filter (change it before you head home for better gas mileage)
For Cooler Months of November - March: Medium-heavy weight jacket, long underwear, thermal gloves, fleece hat and wicking-wool socks

CAMPING WHEN IT'S COLD: Read recommendations here: Staying Warm


  • Have a complete routine service & preventive maintenance/inspection performed at least 2 weeks prior to your trip in case anything is found that needs repair
  • Make sure your shocks are in good shape (bad shocks can lead to bounce, slip & slide on slopes)
  • Practice using high-lift jack
  • Get a CB if you don’t have one
  • If you are thinking of doing any backroads exploring on your own (not recommended), consider getting a satellite phone and at a minimum make sure you notify someone of your planned route & when you expect to be back
  • Consider getting a tailpipe tuck (All Pro makes a high clearance tailpipe mod kit)
  • Start out with a clean air filter, bring an extra air filter for your engine & cabin
  • Invest in good quality fuel containers such as low-profile Rotopax
  • If the desert pin-striping bothers you, consider giving your truck a thick coat of wax before the trip or just take deep breaths and remind yourself "It'll buff out!" :rofl:
  • Prior to hitting the trails, make sure your towing harness is stowed & secured and remove unnecessary hitch attachments
  • Stow your gear & strap everything down that you wouldn’t want to be hit in the head with or impaled with

I ran across this site that has "Reviews" of Big Bend National Park, which includes some good tips in some of the reviews. If you're on the fence about whether you want to go to the area, this will give you a quick feel for what it's like :). Big Bend National Park Reviews |

BigBendChat - Enjoy over 1000 years of collective experience in Big Bend National Park

Park Links:
BBRSP Roads to Nowhere
Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP)
BBRSP 4X4 Info
Big Bend National Park (BBNP)
BBNP Daily Report (Alerts re: Weather, Road Conditions, etc.)

Suggested activities while you're in Big Bend:
  • Off-roading in BBNP, BBRSP, Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, Christmas Mountain, County Roads in Terlingua, Pinto Canyon Rd from Marfa to Ruidosa
  • Canyoneering at Ernst Tiñaja, BBNP
  • Mountain hiking in BBNP (check out Emory Peak if you want a challenging hike, it's the highest point in the park at almost 8,000 ft)
  • Drinks @ La Kiva (dinner is good too & they often have live music), Terlingua //2014-Dec: currently closed for remodeling
  • Dinner @ Starlight, Terlingua
  • Hang out on The Porch (usually involves having a beer & conversing with the locals), Terlingua
  • Hot Spring soak alongside Rio Grande, BBNP
  • Bird watching (consider bringing a field guide for birds - this area offers a huge variety of birds to see)
  • Rock & mineral collecting, various spots but not in the parks (check at Stillwell Ranch; or, depending on time of year, Teri Smith offers guided hunts - Rock Hunting in the Big Bend of Texas )
  • Stargazing in Big Bend is breathtaking!!! (Tip - bring sky chart for reference or use an app like Google Sky Map)
  • Hunting (seasonal), Black Gap Wildlife Management Area
  • Public Historic Sites, many locations in the Big Bend area
  • Hallie Stillwell Museum at Stillwell Ranch (look up her story online)
  • River tours
  • Hiking (for example, at Emory Peak)
  • Horseback rides
  • ATVs
  • Daytrip to Mexico via recently reopened border crossing at Boquillas del Carmen, BBNP - travel documents required
  • See Deep Space Objects at the McDonald Observatory
  • "Try to" See the Marfa Lights
~~ Click here for additional information on places in the area, stores, restaurants, gas stations and link to a map ~~

Some hazards in the area (some are taken from BBNP Hikers Guide):

Property owners: For various reasons, there is a lot of private property in the Big Bend Area that is not marked as such, fenced in, etc. When exploring/traveling through the area, unless you can tell otherwise based on a map or sign, assume it’s private property. And remember that the general rule of thumb is that trespassers will be shot & survivors will be shot again!
Venomous snakes: "...particularly in sunny rocky areas and at night. Most bites here have happened to people who were walking at night without a flashlight."
Unstable rocks: Do not climb rock faces
Flash floods: "...can appear suddenly from rain that falls many miles away." "Do not camp or park your car in arroyos or dry creekbeds." Be aware of local weather as well as potential for heavy rains that run off into the area.
Mountain lions: "...attacks are rare, but the park has recorded four since 1984..." (this was in 2011). "If you encounter an aggressive lion, hold your ground, wave your arms, throw stones, and shout. NEVER RUN." And, don't let small children or pets wander away from you.
Black Bears: read this
Getting Lost: Bring detailed maps & compass; let someone know where you're going to be and when to expect you back
Dehydration: Always have extra water & high energy food with you & even more water; oh, yes, and more water

>>>"Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk."<<< -- quote from Big Bend Chat forums

Premium Member
2,048 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Keeping warm when camping at Big Bend in the winter

I've sent a list like this to many people in the past when asked about how I stay warm when camping in below freezing temps, or just when hanging out around the campfire when it's cold. I decided to include it here for reference as well.

Note - If you want to use a tent heater - you may not need to do all of this to stay warm when you're sleeping. However, it's always best to be prepared for the unexpected :). If the tent heater doesn't work, or if you run out of batteries/power, etc., you'll need a back-up plan if you want to get some sleep.


Layers Baby

To keep warm at night, wearing several layers of non-cotton clothing usually works best for us. The layers help trap heat and allow you to take something off or put more on, keeping you from getting too hot & perspiring, which is definitely not good when it's cold out. Layering on the head and around the torso is priority. Putting your layers on "BEFORE" you get cold is important because KEEPING warm is much easier than warming up once you're already cold.

At least two layers for the head: 1)look for "Thinsulate" fleece or wool caps or something comparable that offers warmth and wicking 2)the 2nd (or last) layer will be a hood from one of your outer layers for your top (see below). Avoid cotton. If you tend to get cold easily, more than 2 layers on your head will make a big difference. I like using a thin fleece cap + a thicker fleece/knit cap with ear flaps.

Start with a thermal top and thermal bottoms (also called "long johns") for the base layer - No Cotton! You can find the best selection at Academy or REI. Try to get wool or silk, something that says "wicking". They usually have multiple levels to pick from (i.e., warmest, warm, lightweight, etc.). Whichever you choose, keep the thickness in mind when you pick what to wear over them (or vice versa).

Here are all of the layers I recommend to bring/wear to stay warm:

1)Thermal top
2)Long sleeve light to mid-weight shirt
3)Hooded fleece sweater or hooded fleece jacket
4)Waterproof/windproof layer (i.e., windbreaker, jacket or coat)

1)Thermal bottoms
2)Any kind of pants, preferably not cotton
3)If blue-jeans are your 2nd layer, consider putting another layer over them such as fleece pants or rain pants

1)Wool wicking thick socks
2)If 2 layers of socks are desired, sock liners can be worn as the first layer, under the wool socks - which is better than 2 pair of socks because they can cause blisters
3)Warmest shoes you have that aren't too tight; if it cuts off the circulation any, the blood can't do a good job of warming the area; Academy has fairly inexpensive fur lined winter boots - or hiking boots can work

1)I use some glove liners I got at Academy that have some kind of metallic threading, which helps disperse heat to fingertips; sometimes, that's the only layer I need on my hands
2)Quality gloves which aren't too tight; look for features like: windproof, waterproof (again, avoid cotton)

1) "Thinsulate" fleece caps or something comparable that offers warmth and wicking
2) Optional layers: 2nd fleece cap with more coverage such as ear flaps, possibly fur lined; a balaclava (aka "ski mask") as a first layer
3) Hood from your fleece jacket and/or outer coat layer


Optional items which may come in handy include earmuffs, scarf, hand warmers, blanket

SLEEPING/COMFORT related "keeping warm" tips

If you are sleeping in a tent, there are a few things you can do (in addition to the above layers) to keep yourself warm:

First - don't trust that the "Minus 0" rating on your sleeping bag will actually keep you warm enough all by itself. The quality level varies greatly - always be prepared with extra layers for sleeping. Here's a great article on sleeping bags and keeping warm.

Whether you sleep on the ground, on an air mattress or on a cot, in addition to your sleeping bag/insulating layer(s), use an extra layer underneath you to keep your body heat from being radiated into ground. You can use a $2 "space" blanket, a tarp or even a large plastic trash bag for that layer.

The larger your tent is, the more effort it will take to get/stay warm. That doesn't mean you need to trade in your "house to go" for a smaller tent. You can rig up something to keep your body heat from straying too far from its source - using, for example, a space blanket or a small tarp. Depending on the dimensions of your tent, you can tie a space blanket or tarp to the 4 corners about halfway between you and the tent ceiling. If your tent is too big for that, you can tie a rope from one side of your tent to the other so that it forms a straight line above where you'll be sleeping (head to foot oriented). Then, you can drape a space blanket or tarp over the string so that it forms a miniature tent within your tent. Avoid covering your head area with this extra barrier though because as you breathe, the condensation can collect above you and end up dripping on your face. Speaking of tent condensation, this is a great read.

Something I ran across last year that came in really handy was a cushion/pillow marketed towards hunters that you put in your camp chair & when you sit on it, it holds in your body heat....made a big difference last year around the fire.

Premium Member
2,048 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)

Premium Member
2,048 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Big Bend Trip Threads - Past and Future

Past and future trip threads:


March-2016: I'm joining a trip planned by Houston FJ Cruisers, which is being organized through Facebook



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