Big Bend Exploring and Hiking

Destination: Big Bend National Park

| Activities: Hiking and Kayaking

The Big Bend region of Texas is untouched, under-touristed, and just a little bit funky. This trip brings you into the heart of the region with hiking in Big Bend State Park and Big Bend National Park, paddling the Rio Grande and a trek up into the Chisos Mountains- a trail that Backpacker Magazines includes in their ‘100 Best Miles of Hiking in the US’. You will experience the eclectic style of West Texas people, nature, and history. This desert that on first glance seems so lifeless is filled with hardy vegetation and a myriad of desert creatures. We think the Big Bend Region is a world set apart and suspect you will too. We agree with the the folks in the Big Bend region- “West Texas is the Best Texas!”

Highlights

  • Experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Big Bend National Park on foot
  • Paddling along the Rio Grande River and admiring the natural border between Mexico and the United States
  • Hiking in the Chisos Mountains along the South Rim Trail
  • Star gazing in the desert darkness- Big Bend is part of the International Dark Sky Park

Departures and Prices

February 06 to February 13, 2023
$3295.00 - FULL
Join Waitlist
November 03 to November 10, 2023
$3395.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights lodging in a historic hotel, cabins and National Park Lodge (motel rooms)
  • All meals from breakfast on Day 2 through lunch on the last day. We will go out to restaurants for most meals and the guides will prepare the others.
  • Round-trip transportation from El Paso to the Park
  • Park entry fees

Not included: Travel to and from El Paso, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for women who enjoy hiking in the mountains and desert surrounded by breathtaking scenery. We will be hiking 6 - 10 miles a day in hilly terrain with steep ascents and descents, along rocky and uneven terrain. Previous hiking experience is extremely useful, as is having a sense of adventure and a good level of physical fitness. A rating of 4 requires aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2-hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is appropriate.  Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the uniqueness of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the this park than by foot and from a kayak. Some of the hikes are quite challenging in terms of length and elevation gain, and it is an excellent trip for fit intermediate and experienced hikers who like hikes of intermediate or longer length.

The lodging on this trip will vary as much as the landscape. The accommodations will include a historic hotel, casita (little house in Spanish) and a National Park lodge. The lodging will have en suite bathrooms. The casitas will have a small kitchenette. There is an option at an additional cost to get a single room. You can select this option at registration.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Today is arrival day! You are to arrive in El Paso by 3 PM. Your group meeting will be at 5:30 PM. More details about meeting place will be in pre-trip letter. Overnight: Hotel in El Paso
DAY 2
We start our day at our El Paso hotel at 8am! Your guides will meet you at the hotel and will begin the journey east with a three-hour drive to Marfa- a former sleepy ranching town that has exploded onto the art scene. Before arriving in Marfa, we will stretch our legs with a short hike around the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center. After our hike, we will drive the remaining 30 minutes to Marfa. We'll check into our lodging at the historic Hotel Paisano, chat about the trip, spend some free time exploring this unique town, share dinner downtown. (B, L, D) Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Chihuahuan Desert nature Center: 0.33 mile loop behind the nature center Overnight: Hotel Paisano
DAY 3
Leaving Marfa, we'll depart for Big Bend Ranch State Park, stopping at the Fort Leaton ranger station before driving the scenic River Road along the Rio Grande. From the Fresno Creek trailhead, we will hike approximately 9 miles on a loop trail through the Chihuahuan Desert. Before becoming a State Park, this area was home to mining and ranching operations. After our hike we will continue to Terlingua Ghost Town and settle in to our casitas, our home for the next three nights. (B, L, D) Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Fresno Creek Trailhead through Chihuahuan Desert: 9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 915ft Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
DAY 4
After breakfast, we'll take a short drive to the Mesa de Anguila Trail, one of the most spectacular hikes in the National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and serves as the western border of the park. We'll hike from Lajitas about 2 miles to the saddle, which offers a view to the Rio Grande far below us as well as into Mexico. From here, you can choose to continue along the mesa (it goes on much farther than we have time to walk) for an out-and-back hike with 360-degree vistas. (B, L, D) Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Mesa de Anguila Trail: 2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 596ft Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
DAY 5
From yesterday's eagle-eye viewpoint we spied the Rio Grande and today we'll be paddling in it! We will have a full day paddle through one of the many amazing canyons in Big Bend National Park, depending on water levels and guide recommendations. We will explore the 2,000-foot cathedral-like walls that create a natural border in the park. This paddle lets us explore the riparian zones of the Rio. Our local outfitter will provide instruction as well as natural history interpretation. We’ll return to Terlingua for dinner. (B, L, D) Overnight: Far Flung Casitas
DAY 6
Today we move from our casitas in Terlingua to Chisos Mountain Lodge, within the National Park. Our first stop is the National Park Visitor Center at Panther Junction. We’ll continue to Chisos Basin and hike the Window Trail, an out-and-back 5.6-mile route through Oak Creek Canyon. After our hike, we’ll move into our rooms and enjoy the scenery of the basin before meeting for dinner at the lodge. (B, L, D) Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: Window Trail: 5.2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 948ft Overnight: Chisos Mountain Lodge
DAY 7
We're saving our most spectacular hikes for last. Today we will have the option to explore the South Rim Trail or the Lost Mine trail. The South Rim Trail is a 12-mile loop hike that rewards us with dramatic vistas of the Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico, the rolling foothills of the Chisos, and the Chihuahuan Desert thousands of feet below. The Lost Mine Trail is 4.8 mile out and back hike that provides an outstanding introduction the flora and fauna of the Chisos Mountains, as well as showing us spectacular vistas of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and out towards Mexico. Either trail is an excellent choice! (B, L, D) Hiking distance and elevation gain/losses: South Rim Trail: 12.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 2,657ft Lost Mine Trail: 4.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,131ft Overnight: Chisos Mountain Lodge
DAY 8
The trip may be ending but the journey isn't over! After a breakfast at the lodge we'll load up and drive two hours to Alpine, where we'll stop to stretch our legs before three more hours in the car brings us to El Paso. We’ll have our last picnic lunch together along the way. You can plan to fly out after 3:00 p.m. (B, L)

4.6

(26 reviews)
4.4 Food
4.1 Lodging
4.8 Safety
5
(16)
4
(10)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(0)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Katharine R.
8 months ago

Fun, easygoing and caring guides! Great hikes, good accommodations overall. Food was great. The people on this trip made it very special.

Anne L.
8 months ago

Seeing a new area of the country. Meeting and hiking with interesting women.

Frances F.
9 months ago

Sharon B.
9 months ago

Seeing a part of the country I knew nothing about

Christine H.
9 months ago

The group wasn't too large and got along well. The guides were flexible and offered alternative hikes when possible.

Anne A.
9 months ago

Great guides, great group of women, beautiful area to explore! This was my first experience on a trip with AGC, and I loved it!!!

Pam F.
9 months ago

Experiencing a beautiful, remote part of the Southwest.

Ursula F.
9 months ago

Fabulous group of women - no exceptions. Great views. Outstanding guides.

Marie C.
1 year ago

We had a very cohesive group of women. I enjoyed all of them. And it was fun to break in a new guide!

Paula L.
1 year ago

The people on the trip, the guides and places it took me

Michelle B.
1 year ago

The guides and my fellow travelers were the absolute best part. As for activities, the hiking in Big Bend NP was spectacular. I also really enjoyed our Casitas in Terlingua.

Barbara C.
1 year ago

Variety in hikes; dark skies; great group of women and guides

Carol B.
1 year ago

Hiking in such an exotic place, wonderful guides and a great group of women participants.

Catherine E.
1 year ago

Perfectly planned itinerary to an unusual destination. I enjoyed every minute!

Colleen B.
1 year ago

The location

Norine M.
1 year ago

The people on the trip.

Neta N.
1 year ago

Enjoyed the guides and all of the other hikers. I think for me, I would have liked to spend more time in the National park and less time in the State park.

Lauretta L.
2 years ago

Each day our guides had a mini meeting with everyone to discuss the day and what was expected for the upcoming hike.

Janice C.
2 years ago

I wanted to walk far and we did!

Deb C.
2 years ago

Since this was a 1st run trip, there were a few hiccups. But I thought our guides worked thru them very well. The town of Terlingua was really fun and unique. I really enjoyed the hike of the Mesa de Anguilla. The kayaking day was my favorite. The river was low, so it was just a float. The views of the canyon walls were just amazing. We had lunch on the bank of the river. It was a humorous and lovely day. There is substantial van time on this trip. This is a big NP and remote. So, it is part of the deal. The road from the Chisos Lodge to Marathon had amazing views of the park and was very enjoyable. Our group was fun. We laughed a lot.

Doris E.
2 years ago

Hiking in extraordinary Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park (especially the South Rim) and kayaking the Rio Grande in Santa Elena Canyon with the usual great group of participants and guides were definitely the highlights, though I didn’t consider it a “true” level 4 trip.

Linda K.
2 years ago

Enjoyed all of the hikes and the kayaking. The lodge and hotel were great. The tipis were interesting; the only downside was the trek to the washroom during the cold and windy nights. The guides were great!

Luann P.
2 years ago

Bernice T.
2 years ago

The activities were terrific, accommodations were 2 out of 3 great, guides were fantastic. I was disappointed that there was not much socializing during our downtimes, and would have preferred less driving. Low light of the trip was the border crossing/hot springs--would have preferred another day of hiking or kayaking

Kathi W.
2 years ago

I loved seeing the variety of the area but I was not expecting so much driving - albeit inevitable!

Karin L.
2 years ago

Worthwhile; varied; good mix of exertion and rest days. Beautiful place. I’m so glad I went. 12 mile hike in Chisos was the BEST. Kayaking in the canyon second.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most meal breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches will either be packed lunches (guides will put out lunch fixings in the morning) or picnic style. Some dinners will be prepared by the guides.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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