Here's some questions that are probably coming up as you're considering doing this route. 

Am I prepared to attempt the Big bend 100?

Skills/experience that will keep you alive on this trip:

  • Ability to navigate in off-trail terrain using a topographic map and GPS unit

  • Understanding that water in the desert is unpredictable - you need a plan for your response if your anticipated water sources are dry or contaminated

  • Backpack the Outer Mountain Loop, the Mesa de Anguila, or the Rancherias Loop as minimum tests for your preparedness for The Big Bend 100.

What do I need for Maps and GPS DEtails

Download the KML/KMX files for the Big Bend 100 here.

For Big Bend Ranch State Park, carry:

For Big Bend National Park, carry:

  • National Geographic Society Topographic Map for Big Bend National Park

What's the best season for considering this thru-hike?

November-January 31. The Chihuahuan Desert can get hot - it was 82 degrees in the state park on New Year Eve 2017.

(Note The Southeast Rim Trail and a portion of the Northeast Rim Trail from the Boot Canyon/Southeast Rim junction to a point just north of Campsite NE-4 are closed from Feb 1-May 31st for Peregrin Falcon nesting)

What do I need to know about permits?

The first 4 days/50 miles are in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Backpacking in the state park requires a general backcountry permit for $10 per night we used this permit for nights 1 and 3. You'll need to call (512) 389-8919 to make reservations. On the night of Day 2, we chose to stay in the historic bunkhouse, a pretty cool feature in the state park. You can make reservations here at the same phone number. 

In the National Park, backpacking permits must be obtained in-person no more than 24-hours before your trip begins (more info on that here). What that means for you, is that you have to plan to drive/hitch out of your way to get these permits in the national park, then make your way back to your route. When getting these permits, you'll need to be prepared to give some specifics on which campsites you want, specifically around Terlingua Abajo, and in the Chisos on your last night. 

What Are the Logistics on Shuttles?

The night before the trip began, we stayed at El Cosmico in Marfa. On morning of Day 1, we drove to the Casa Piedra Trailhead where we left our car. We had a friend pick up our car and drive it to Barton Warnock in Lajitas. On Day 5, we were back at our car, and drove to Panther Junction in the National Park to get permits for the backcountry portion there. We returned to Barton Warnock to resume the hike, and again relied on this awesome friend to shuttle our vehicle to the Chisos Basin, where we would pick it up at the end of the trip. 

HOw much of the route is on trail/Off-Trail, etc?

Something like this:

  • Trail Mileage: 49

  • Dirt Road/4WD Roads: 29

  • Sandy Arroyo: 14

  • Off-trail route finding: 5

  • Paved Road: 3

Can I Hike it East to West to make permitting easier?

Yes, but there is a certain magic to approaching the South Rim for 90 miles as the culmination to your trip. So we recommend West to East.