Jan 25 - Our Big Bend Campsites

We were in Big Bend National Park a total of 5 nights. With the assistance of a very helpful Ranger at the Persimmon Gap Visitors Center, and with some side information from Barney the Old Fat Man, we decided to push the limits a little and stay in one of the many primitive backcountry roadside campsites sprinkled throughout the Park. Most of these (over 50 of them) are alongside dirt roads and rough jeep trails that are neither appropriate nor accessible for a wallowing tubby bus-house. But there are two that would work... Government Springs and Hannold Draw.

In order to use any of these it's necessary to have a backcountry permit ($10 for up to two weeks). The Park Service keeps a record of who has a permit for where so there shouldn't be conflicts with other campers. A quick inquiry by our Ranger when we entered the Park on January 22nd snagged us the Hannold Draw (HD1) site for 4 nights, Wednesday night (23rd) through Saturday night (26th). That meant we'd have to find another place to camp for one night.

Nothing is close in Big Bend. The distance from Marathon Texas to the Persimmon Gap entrance station and visitors center is 42 miles. From Persimmon Gap to the Park Headquarters at Panther Junction is another 26 miles. From Panther Junction to Rio-Grande Village is 20 miles more to the southeast, where there are two overnight possibilities for people with giant RVs... the Rio Grande Village Campground ($14, no hookups, generators OK in one area, not many sites appropriate for large RVs) and the Rio Grande Village RV Park ($33, FHU, Walmart-like asphalt parking lot). We opted for the Campground.

Jammed into Rio Grande Village CG for one night.

Up early on Wednesday, everything stowed, Cummins fired up... we didn't hook up the toad for the 25 mile drive to Hannold Draw. It's pretty much uphill all the way from Rio Grande Village back to Panther Junction, where we turned north and downhill for 4.8 miles where an unmarked gravel road takes off to the east. The twisty rough gravel road goes for only a quarter mile or so, down into a "draw", and completely out of sight from the main road. One end of the draw is used by the Park Service to store piles of gravel and some equipment. The other end is one large flat remote campspot. We parked the rig with the picture window windshield facing northeast to enjoy the view of the Sierra del Carmen and Santiago Mountains.

I should also point out that the Park Service rules out the use of generators in any backcountry campsites. Between our 4 solar panels and full sun most days we were there, we enjoyed all the electric power we needed.

During the entire 4 day period of our stay I'm only aware of one other vehicle coming into the draw... a Park Ranger coming to check up on us. There may have been others while we were out exploring the Park, but that's the only one we saw or heard.

We had a very positive experience at Hannold Draw and won't hesitate to do it again.

Splendid Solitude... at Hannold Draw
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