The Outer Mountain Loop

Big Bend National Park Travel Blog

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This is my poncho shelter. I used small bungee cords to secure the top part to the top of my ruck sack. The bottom part just has rocks on it. Another bungee cord is looped into the center of the poncho and secured to a tree in order to prevent sag.

And you're off!  The Park says that you'll need 3 full days of hiking in order to complete this 30 mile loop.  I was able to do it in 2 days and 2 nights.  I started at 9:15 am on Friday and Finished at 10:30 am Sunday Morning.  The Hike itself was gorgeous as you can see from the pictures.  I chose to do zone camping and slept under the stars pretty much where I found a good spot.  There are dedicated campsites along with toilets and bear boxes that you can reserve - but it will cost you.  Not sure on the price but I think it was about 13-20 bucks a night. 

Water was the main concern on this trip.  Plan for at least 4L-8L of water per day.  Which means you'll need to carry between 8-16L.  I went through about 5L a day including cooking - and I was still dehydrated.

Boiling water in the jet boil for dinner
  I was down to 1L of water by the time I made it to Homer Wilson Ranch to resupply.  For Food, I had a fruit cup and a harvest bar for breakfast, Peanuts for a snack, and dehyrdated food for lunch and Dinner (mountain house makes very filling meals.)  I was getting an acid reflux, which I've never had before, and I think it might have been due to the dehydrated food, so make sure you don't have this problem before you go - it was hard for me to get the meals down.  If you don't have a jetboil - get one!  They are amazing, boils water in minutes, and is very efficient.  Get the small canister of fuel, it will be more than enough.

Things I wish I didn't bring:

-Extra Clothes:  I didnt change once I got out there.  I brought 3 changes of clothes and it really weighed down my pack.


-Snacks:  I brought too much trail mix, etc... could have done without.

-Tent - I didnt bring one, but think twice before you do.  It is amazing to sleep under the stars. 

Essential Items:


- Tea - Can make a great sunset, into an amazing one.

- Down Jacket - it gets cold at night!

- Space bags - Eagle Creek makes these easy to use bags that compress bulky items like clothes down to nothing - for $20 bucks you get a large and a medium sized bag and they are worth every penny!

- Poncho - a light weight way to stay out of the sun.  Sun doesn't set until about 730 pm here and it is boiling all day.   I usually stopped hiking for the day around 4 or 5 pm, it was nice to lay down and take my hat and sunglasses off.


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inside homer wilson ranch for a lunch break

So I'm from Massachusetts, which is just a 6 hour plane ride into Texas. I chose to fly into San Antonio because it was cheaper than the other airports. Got my round trip ticket for $200 off of I am in school, so I picked a good long weekend to head out and made the arrangements. Thursday was strictly a travel day. Flew out of Boston @ 6 am, which was great because it wasn't busy at all. Landed in San Antonio at about 1130. Got a shuttle to the Rental Car place (I chose thrifty which was pretty cheap,) If you aren't underage you can get a get a rental for about $120. Since I am only 21 as I write this, I paid a whopping $275. So I began the 6-hr or so drive out to Big Bend. Stopped for lunch at a dive of a place called Guadalajara. It is just west of San Antonio probably about 30 miles or so.

Finally made it to homer wilson ranch! Water resupply!
  Super cheap place to eat with big portions and a great staff. (Get the #33 - Sooo Good.)

The drive across the state is a long one.  You spend about 300 miles just driving on US 10.  Gas stations are pretty spread out and more expensive the further out you go.  Get Gas whenever you see a place, You never know if you'll get the chance to fill up again.  Radio Stations are also few and far between the further you go.  An Ipod is definitely a good idea to have with you for those long stretches without radio.  Look out for animals in the road too.  You'll notice that most cars in Texas have brush guards - and I think that is due to the large amount of animal traffic - The highway is littered with roadkill.

Council of Rock Men. Found this walking through a dried up creek bed.
  Speed limit during the day is mostly 80 mph, but drops to 65 during the night. 

After US 10, take 385 all the way down to the park.  Marathon will be your last stop for Gas before the park, so get it if you are below 3/4 of a tank.  You'll pass a border patrol station on your way down.  About 70-80 miles you'll be at the Entrance to the Park.  The Visitor Center is located 26 miles into the park near the center of Panther Junction.  Look out for Javelinas while driving at night!!  The visitor's center is closed after 6 pm, however, a bathroom is always open. 

I drove into the park at about 9 pm so I slept in my car at the vistor's center the first night.  In the morning, drive to Homer Wilson Ranch and stash water in the Bear Box - you're going to need it.  Then, Head down to the Chisos Mountain Vistor Center to get your Back Country Pass and a Parking Pass ($20 for parking, $10 for the backcountry).  You can also get maps here too. 

This is my poncho shelter.  I used…
This is my poncho shelter. I use…
Boiling water in the jet boil for …
Boiling water in the jet boil for…
inside homer wilson ranch for a lu…
inside homer wilson ranch for a l…
Finally made it to homer wilson ra…
Finally made it to homer wilson r…
Council of Rock Men.  Found this w…
Council of Rock Men. Found this …
me laying down in the shelter
me laying down in the shelter
gorgeous sky in the morning.
gorgeous sky in the morning.
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photo by: mnico78