Click on photos for larger images. Sometimes you have to refresh the page to re-activate this feature. Hide Slide Show (you will have to refresh the page to see it again)

Big Bend National Park, TX

Mar 5 - Mar 13, 2022 -- $1375 ★★★

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. Our hike will start in the seldom visited Big Bend Ranch State Park for a desert jaunt around the so-called Rancherias Loop. The we'll head over to Big Bend National Park for 2 nights in in the Chisos Basin punctuated by a day-hike to the Windo. Then, we'll head into the Chisos Mountains, where we'll summit 7825' Emory Peak (the highest peak in the park) and then visit the famed South Rim for sweeping views of the desert. Note: Part of the South Rim may be closed due to protect nesting falcons.

Mid-trip, we plan to visit 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: The Hot Springs were closed in 2020 due to Covid concerns but they were open in 2022 and will hopefully be open at the time of this trip.

Important! Water is scarce during the hike. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. But don't be discouraged. It's only 16 pounds when you obtain it. It's nearly zero by the time we reach the next water source. So come see a wild and largely unhiked section of the country, and get fitter / improve body composition.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. March temperatures average in the mid 70s and 80s during the days and the 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 added stiff wind at one point. And in 2017, it was an all-day exposed 100 degrees in the desert. This is not to frighten you, only to make sure you are prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions.

Probable Trip Leaders

Chris Frey
Alex Geisendorfer (possible)


$1375 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF) as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, 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.

Important Note

Water is scarce in the desert. Expect to carry up to 2 gallons (8 liters) of water or even more as staying hydrated is one of our primary concerns. The arid climate and moderately high elevation will suck the water out of your body without you even realizing it. Unfortunately, water weighs about 2 pounds per liter.

Back to top


Packing List
Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
Packing List
Sign up Now!


Saturday, March 5, 2022

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

Take the free airport shuttle to local hotel MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center Odessa, 5200 E. University | Odessa, Texas 79762, (432) 368-5885

Equipment shakedown in Odessa

Trail mix distribution, Covid permitting

"Before" body composition measurements taken

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

Go out for dinner in town (not included in trip price)

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Awaken pre-dawn in anticipation of a long day in getting to the park and a relatively difficult first day of hiking

"Before" body composition measurements taken again

Free Breakfast at Hotel

We will transport your stuff to a storage unit (please keep the amount of off-trail items small if possible)

Drive to Lajitas, TX (4 hours) where the mayor used to be a beer drinking goat,

Check in at the Barton Warnock Ranger Station and watch a 10 minute orienation video

Drive to the Big Bend Ranch State Park's East Rancherias trailhead, elevation 2685'

Hike 5.5 uphill miles on the Rancherias Trail through Acebuches (olive) Canyon to a saddle, elevation 4200'

Dry camp on the flat saddle, elevation 4200'. Note: There is no water here!

Total today: 5.5 miles. Trip Total: 5.5 miles.

Bailout: Rancherias Trailhead

Monday, March 7, 2022

Hike about 0.8 downhill miles on the Rancherias Trail to Casa Reza, elevation 3700'

Fill water at the reliable spring here

Hike about 6.0 up and down miles on the Rancherias Trail to Rancherias Spring, elevation 4100'. You'll see the oasis of Cottonwood Trees from afar.

Fill water at the (possibly muddy) spring here

Camp near Rancherias Spring, elevation 4100'

Total today: 6.8 miles. Trip Total: 12.3 miles

Bailout: Route 170 a full day away

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Hike 6.6 downhill miles on the Rancherias Trail to the West Rancherias Trailhead, elevation 2498'

One or both of the guides will do a 2 mile road walk to get the shuttle vehicle(s)

Shuttle/Drive to Big Bend National Park, Chisos Bais, elevation 5400'

Front-country camp at the Chisos Basin, Group campsite Q.

The basin has a small store, restaurant and ranger station

Total today: 6.6 miles. Trip Total: 18.9 miles

Bailout: Route 170

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Day-Hiking only today (no full pack)

Drive to the Lost Mine Trail, elevation 5730'

Day-Hike 2.4 miles on the Lost Mine Trail to Lost Mine Peak, elevation 6820'

Day-Hike 2.4 miles on the Lost Mine Trail back to the trailhead, elevation 5730'

Drive to the Hot Springs and near Rio Grande Village, elevation 1850'

Day-hike 0.5 miles round trip to the hot springs. Soak in the Hot Springs and swim in the Rio Grande River for about an hour or so

Shuttle back to the Chisos Basin.

Front-country camp at Chisos Basin, group campsite Q.

The basin has a small store, restaurant and ranger station

Total today: 5.3 miles. Trip Total: 24.2 miles

Bailout: Rio Grande Village

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Fill all water before departing Rio Grande Village as tonight's campsite might be dry.

Drive to Panther Junction Ranger Station to pick up backcountry permit

Drive to the Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'

Hike 3.5 uphill miles on the Pinnacles Trail to the North Rim / Toll Mountain / Emory Peak Trail, elevation 7000'

Stash packs in bear boxes and Day-Hike 3.4 miles round trip to Emory Peak Summit, the highest point in Big Bend NP, elevation 7825'. To summmit, some non-technical vertical rock scrambling will be required the last few hundred feet.

Don packs and hike 1.0 miles on the Boot Spring Trail to the Colima Trail, elevation 6850'

Camp at campsite Colima 1 (CO1), elevation 6850'

Note: No water here. Either we carry it in or find some at Boot Spring a half mile round trip from here. Boot Spring is officially not reliable in extremely dry years, however we have always found water either here or by following the canyon upstream.

Total mileage today: 7.9 miles. Trip Total: 32.1 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Friday, March 11, 2022

Hike 1.8 miles on the Boot Canyon Trail to the South Rim, elevation 7375'. Note: the Northeast Rim is closed to due falcon nesting.

Hike about 2.5 miles on the Southeast Rim Trail to the Laguna Meadow Trail.

Camp at site Laguna Meadow LM2. No water here but there's a nearby pit toilet.

Total mileage today: 4.4 miles. Trip Total: 36.5 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Hike about 3.7 downhill miles on the Laguna Meadow Trail to the Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'.

End of hiking

Total mileage today: 3.7 miles. Trip Total: 40.2 miles.

Drive to the Panther Junction

"After" measurements taken on the flat floor of the Ranger Station

Drive to Ft. Stockton

Dinner and awards ceremony in Ft. Stockton. (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Drive back to Odessa

Check back into local hotel MCM Elegante Hotel and Conference Center Odessa, 5200 E. University | Odessa, Texas 79762, (432) 368-5885

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.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Free Hotel Breakfast

We will take you to the airport (you may have to leave earlier than you'd like as we will only take 2 trips to minimize shuttling).

Back to top