This trip is rated Moderate . You should be capable of hiking with a daypack up to 12 miles (up to 6 hours) with elevation gains/losses of up to 2,100'. Trails are composed of packed dirt, sand, large and/or loose rocks, with some steep sections and exposed overlooks.
Our adventure begins in the multi-cultural border city of El Paso. Following introductions, we begin the three-hour journey to our first hike at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. The park is one of the finest examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest with trails that offer sweeping panoramic views of the Fort and nearby Davis Mountains. During our visit we’ll learn how the fort served as a key military encampment during western expansion and hear stories about legendary residents such as the Buffalo Soldiers. We then continue to Alpine, the Gateway to the Big Bend. There is time for a stroll through town or to relax at our lodgings, the historic Holland Hotel, before we gather for dinner. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2.5-3 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 320’; Transfers: 3.5 hours.
We set out for Big Bend National Park and our ﬁrst hike at Persimmon Gap Draw. This often-overlooked treasure features outstanding views of the oldest exposed geology in the park. We visit the park’s Fossil Bone Exhibit, which celebrates 120 million years of paleontological history, and the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Our afternoon hike climbs through Panther Pass to the Lost Mine Trailhead where we take in spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains. We spend the next two nights at Chisos Mountains Lodge, nestled inside the mile-high Chisos Basin, completely encircled by towering pinnacles of volcanic origin. Big Bend is internationally recognized as a Dark Sky Park, so we take time in the evenings to stargaze. All meals included.
Hiking 6.8 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 1,300’; Transfers: 2 hours.
Today we discover the most famous hike in all of Texas: the South Rim Trail. The biological diversity and geologic history add to the grandeur of the Chisos—a true “sky island” surrounded by an ‘ocean’ of Chihuahuan Desert. This is the only mountain range in the U.S. which is fully contained within the boundaries of a national park. Throughout the day we are rewarded with countless dramatic viewpoints, including those from the South Rim which spans miles into the distant Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico and thousands of feet below to the Chihuahuan Desert ﬂoor. Returning to our lodge, we dine and take time for stargazing. All meals included.
Hiking up to 12 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 2,000’.
Today we experience a “triple treat” and explore Big Bend’s mountains, desert and river ecosystems - all in one day. We begin hiking on the Window Trail, which descends through a canyon sandwiched between majestic mountain peaks. Photo opportunities abound as we make our way out of the Chisos Basin and onto the desert ﬂoor via the picturesque Oak Springs Trail. Utilizing a trail not found on maps, we picnic under the shady trees of a desert oasis. Next, we take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon. A short hike showcases sheer limestone walls that tower 1500’ above both sides of the Rio Grande River. The day ends at our accommodation in the ghost town of Terlingua. All meals included.
Hiking up to 10 miles; Elevation gain/loss: up to 740’ elevation gain and 2,100’ elevation loss.
The Mesa de Anguila Trail is a hidden gem seldom explored by visitors to Big Bend National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and marks the western border of the park. Our hike provides fantastic views of the bends of the Rio Grande, a brilliant example of how the park got its name. We visit the Barton Warnock Center to learn more about the region’s incredible natural history, and then drive along the Camino del Rio. The road twists and winds with the Rio Grande, crossing arroyos, climbing mountains, and hugging canyon walls. Reaching Big Bend Ranch State Park, we discover the beauty and diversity of this massive 311,000 acre park. Returning to Terlingua, there is free time to explore the Ghost Town before we gather for a farewell dinner at the iconic Starlight Theatre. All meals included.
Hiking 6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 900’.
This morning we begin our return journey to El Paso. We travel the Texas Mountain Trail back to Alpine where a visit to the award-winning Museum of the Big Bend provides further insights into the incredible region we have just experienced. Then the ascent of Hancock Hill offers one final taste of the Big Bend’s many incredible trails, with terrific views of Alpine and the surrounding mountains. Following a scrumptious lunch at a local Alpine favorite, we transfer to El Paso with a planned arrival time of 4:00pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking 2 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 200’; Transfers: 5 hours.