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Mikey Ballgame
LSU Fan
Deep in the Piney Woods
Member since Dec 2014
343 posts

Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
The wife (no pics) and I are planning a trip out to West Texas in the fall. We're trying to decide between Big Bend National Park and a combo of Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Alas, we don't have time to do all three.

I would appreciate any insight from those of you who have been as to which you prefer. We're mostly going to hike, so any trail ideas or other sights we shouldn't miss also appreciated. TIA
This post was edited on 2/10 at 9:31 pm


GOP_Tiger
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Jan 2005
5780 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I had one of the craziest days of my life hiking in Guadalupe back on December 27, 2005.

I had camped out onsite the night before, and I got up early to hike "The Bowl." For those who don't know, the base of the Guadalupe mountains is in the desert, but at the top, there's a flat area between the peaks that is full of pine trees. "The Bowl" is a great hike because you see very different climes so close together.

After I was up and about halfway across The Bowl, it started to snow, which was absolutely not in the forecast. It was beautiful to see the snow in the pines, but it kept on coming down, and it made the hike back down treacherous, as the snow covered the trail and I couldn't see where to step. I used a yucca stalk as a staff, but I still fell down at least a dozen times, and I counted myself very fortunate that I didn't break anything. Since I was hiking alone and there wasn't anyone else on that trail that day, I might have just frozen to death if I had broken my leg.

Making it down below the snow was such a relief.


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TigerSaintInDallas
Notre Dame Fan
Dallas
Member since Sep 2012
92 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
Big Bend is amazing and not crowded. Definitely one of the best national parks in the US, IMO. The scenery is very unique amd feels very different from almost all the others.

I say stay at Big Bend the entire time. There’s more than enough to do. Terlingua and Marfa provide some nice towns (with their own respective VERY unique feels as well) to enjoy outside the park.

Carlsbad and Guad are nice of course. Just nothing like Big Bend though, IMO.

The best hikes at Big Bend are Emory Peak and South Rim. Lost Mine and Santa Elena Canyon are also very beautiful.

Watch the first 45 minutes of Paris, Texas before you go. It was filmed in the area and really showcases the wonderful solitude there.

Watch out for the border patrol station. They won’t bother you if you don’t have any illicit substances, but they do have dogs on site.
This post was edited on 2/10 at 11:28 pm


Shotgun Willie
Member since Apr 2016
1474 posts
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re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I drove out to Big Bend last spring break for the first time. It was amazing. The blue bonnets were out. Debating driving back out this year again.



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cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I’ve mapped this out a few times, we are definitely going to go do this in the fall/winter. Flying in to El Paso is cheap on SWA and from there it’s an easy drive to both.

if driving to BB from El Paso everything I’ve read says to take the scenic route along the river/border, and make time for the little towns as you get close to the park. Also, camping is the way to see that park

going the other way to Carlsbad/Guadeloupe both are pretty primitive as far as facilities go, and are suited to day tripping and/or camping

if you choose one I think the consensus will be big bend


cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
the trip i'm looking at in early october

MSY>el paso, then drive to marfa
drive marfa thru terlingua and then chisos lodge
chisos lodge for 4 nites
drive to marathon, one nite
drive to el paso and fly home

6 nites total though you certainly could skip a nite on the front or back, or skip a nite in the park


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Zappas Stache
Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Member since Apr 2009
27473 posts
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re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I'll throw my vote in for Big Bend. Its hard to believe you are in Texas when you look at all the mountains around you. Driving River road, especially Terlingua to Presdio is spectacular. You can go miles without seeing another car. There is a little slot canyon along river road called "Closed Canyon" that only takes about an hour to hike roundtrip that makes for a good stop. There is a great hole-n-the-wall mexican food place in Presidio called The Oasis which had some abuela's in the back cooking. I had a religious experience eating the enchiladas there. El Patio is a nicer place with good food too.


sstig
LSU Fan
Houston
Member since Oct 2003
2136 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
Go to La Kiva bar in Terlingua after 5pm. very interesting place.


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cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I wound up booking this trip for October yesterday.
We are going to overnight hike the south rim and camp one night and otherwise stay at the lodge.

fly to El Paso and drive there and back thru presidio on the way there and thru marathon/alpine on the way back. Other than the hike we will try to chill out and just see the sights, it looks very cool and very relaxing. I’m most looking forward to the dark skies and the stars


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ecb
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2010
5156 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
I've only been to big bend, can't wait to go back, would also like to go to Guadalupe, but that looks like an RV trip as others have noted.


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Mikey Ballgame
LSU Fan
Deep in the Piney Woods
Member since Dec 2014
343 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
Ok, thanks for all your input. Based on your feedback we've decided to do Big Bend, but we're gonna wait until next Spring to catch wildflower season (we already have a Spring trip set to N. Carolina next month).


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TejasHorn
Texas Fan
High Plains Driftin'
Member since Mar 2007
7233 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
Both are gems of national parks. Big Bend is massive and more to see and do. There is also the very large Big Bend state park nearby.

Guadalupe and Carlsbad are fantastic too. Guadalupe has more forest and feels more like the Rockies, and less visited than BB.

For a first trip, I'd probably recommend Big Bend and then save CC/Guadalupe for next time.

quote:

Go to La Kiva bar in Terlingua after 5pm. very interesting place


Agreed!

This post was edited on 2/14 at 11:43 am


cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
anyone here stayed the night in Marfa and/or marathon?
in marathon I’m seeing the gage hotel and eve’s garden, in marfa nothing stands out

we like cool and weird places


Zappas Stache
Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Member since Apr 2009
27473 posts
 Online 

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
quote:

anyone here stayed the night in Marfa and/or marathon?
in marathon I’m seeing the gage hotel and eve’s garden, in marfa nothing stands out

we like cool and weird places


I love Marfa even though its been over run with art snobs.....it's kind of a mini santa fe, new mexico. The Gage in marathon is a nice hotel but there isn't much else in town. Marfa is full of Austin like hipsters, New York art people and west Texas ranchers which can make for an interesting mix. The Hotel Paisano in Marfa is where James Dean and the rest of the cast of "Giant' stayed during filming and its a nice hotel. There are several art galleries in town and the Donald Judd Studio which offers tours. If you don't know who Donald Judd is google him, he is why Marfa is an art destination now. The Food Shark has a lunch only food truck that's really good. The same guy used to have a late night grilled cheese bar but that may be shut now. Bar wise, Planet Marfa is cheesey but has a nice outdoor area. Lost Horse Saloon is good when its dark. The best bar in the Big Bend area is in Alpine....Harry's Tenaja. Get there are 3pm and the locals will be outside playing guitar and having fun. They will invite you to play with them and will loan you a guitar. I've also seen every seat at the bar inside with real cowboys sitting shoulder to shoulder having a drink after working the ranch all day. I love Harry's.
This post was edited on 2/14 at 6:40 pm


cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
right on
thank you my brother


Lefty Diego
West of the Pecos
Member since Aug 2009
626 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
Zappa is spot on with his post. Harrys is my regular spot for a cold one. Just remember, Harrys is cash only, beer and a couple of bottles of wine.


cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
20084 posts

re: Guadalupe Mountains/Carlsbad vs. Big Bend
alpine looks very cool.
I’m gonna extend the trip one night for some time there. I booked a cool looking Airbnb for the last two nights before driving back to El Paso



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