Big Bend: Hiking and Primitive Road Backcountry Camping

Big Bend National Park is a huge park. There is no way to see and do it all in a week (while still working), but we made a big dent in it! We camped off a 4 wheel drive primitive road in the backcountry for our last night in the park and it was awesome.

Big Bend is really really hot in the afternoons and our campsite wouldn’t have much shade so we didn’t want to get there too early. Instead, we got in the park around 10 in the morning and filled the day with lots of other activities.

Window Trail

First, we hiked the Window Trail. This trail is a little different in that you are hiking down on the way in and up on the way out. It ended up being my favorite hike. There were cactus flowers everywhere and the view at the top was super cool and unique. On the way back down we even saw a rattlesnake off the trail a bit. Yikes!

Big Bend Window Trail
Awesome view from the Window Trail

The Window Trail trailhead is at the Chisos Visitors Center. We finished our hike right at lunchtime so it was super convenient to eat at the restaurant there at the lodge. The views were really nice from the restaurant and the food was ok.

Big Bend Chisos Basin
Beautiful Chisos Basin

Balanced Rock Hike

After lunch, we decided to do the quick 2.2 mile hike to balanced rock. I called it the Balanced Rock hike, but I think it is technically the Grapevine Hills Trail. Either way. You drive down a dirt road (that has tons of cactus flowers all around) for a while and park at the trailhead.

The hike isn’t too bad. We were there in the heat of the day and it was still fine. On the way in we passed a guy filming the lizards in the park for an upcoming documentary about Big Bend. It was neat to chat with him and see all of the equipment he had to film the lizards. We kept hiking up and made it to the balanced rock. It really is crazy to think that this rock just happened to settle in this position. We enjoyed the view from the top before heading back to the Jeep.

Big Bend Balanced Rock
Big Bend Balanced Rock
Seriously – how did this happen!?

Big Bend Dinosaur Exhibit

It was late afternoon by now, so we started making our way toward our campsite. On the way was the newer dinosaur exhibit. It is an outdoor exhibit that is self-guided. It was so interesting looking at all of the signage and dinosaur bone replicas they have there. I had no idea that Big Bend was such a popular spot for dinosaurs to hang out. It was a super interesting quick stop in a corner of the park we likely wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for the campsite we selected.

Big Bend Dinosaur Exhibit
That’s a big mouth there

Old Ore Road

After checking out the dinosaurs, we started making our way to our campsite. Our campsite for the evening is Roy’s Peak – about 9.3 miles in on Old Ore Road. We haven’t had the opportunity to take the Jeep off road yet, so we were both looking forward to it. Driving into the Big Bend backcountry was a ton of fun. We only passed one car our whole way in and it took us about an hour. The road really wasn’t that bad – we put it in 4 wheel drive once to be super cautious with a sand pit. Austin is also a really good driver though! After about an hour we made it to our campsite.

Big Bend Old Ore Road
The dessert plant life was awesome

Roy’s Peak Campsite in Big Bend

Roy’s Peak was awesome. We had incredible views and plenty of space at the campsite. After we settled in, we set up camp then relaxed a bit before making tacos for dinner. After dinner, we sat up for a while and watched all of the stars come out. They were beautiful! We were both tired after a super full day so we retired early.

Roy's Peak Big Bend
Nothing to complain about here
Roy's Peak Big Bend Stars
We had a gorgeous night in the backcountry

More Old Ore Road

The next morning we were up and at em and ready for our next adventure. We continued down the primitive road toward the Rio Grande Village area. It took us right at 2 hours to drive the remaining 17 miles. It was super nice to get going first thing in the morning. We again had the road to ourselves. We passed the other campsites along Old Ore Road and are really happy we chose the one we did! The drive out was really pretty and fun, but fairly uneventful. Austin continued to impress me with his driving skills and we had no issues on the road.

Big Bend Ole Ore Road
A Jeep really is the perfect tow vehicle

Old Ore Road took us to the Rio Grande Village. When we arrived, we chatted with the volunteers for a bit before getting cash and making our way to Mexico.

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