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Hello All,

Planning another long National Park visit in late October/early November. Looking for advice on what to expect off road, routes to take or not take, any hidden gems I shouldn't pass up or hikes not worth the time.

I have scoured this forum and others, it seems like I will definitely avoid Black Gap Road, most likely avoid Old Ore Road.

I am planning on taking 3ish days to do the River Road, and from what I can find I will be fine as long as it hasn't rained recently.

I will be traveling with a Tacoma and all the standard recovery gear, so no worries there. I already have AT's but wondering if I should use this as an excuse to finally slap on some skid plates.

Thanks!
 

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Visiting BBNP will not require skid plates, but if you want to use it as an excuse to get them, by all means! haha.
Visit the bigbendchat.com website. There is some good info there and many locals connect there so you can get road conditions, what to expect, recommendations, etc.. There is a Backroads section and a 4x4 section too.
I have never driven Black Gap, but my understanding that is the toughest road in the park in a couple of spots. Depending on how things are, you may be able to negotiate it in one direction. If you have traction boards that can be used to bridge, that may be the trick.
I have driven Old Ore from RGV to Ernst Tinaja and it was no big deal. You might drag a loose rock or two, but I did it in an Acura suv, and the OB would not be any less capable.Not sure what the north end is like, but I think it would be navigable as well. Having the Taco along (4x4 I expect), will let you try tougher spots than you should otherwise if solo.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a whole 'nuther story!
You will have a great time out there. I always do.
 

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Dukey33, what is BBRSP like? I've been wanting to go. I've read the brochure and they ate pretty serious about recovery gear, tires, and clearance!

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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I have not been to BBRSP. I have done a bit of cursory data gathering and have found some trip reports and trail pics/videos that show very primitive roads with lots of rocks and some trails with desert plants waiting to put desert racing stripes on all vehicles that pass by. I would say it's not for the faint-hearted. It is certainly a place to be prepared for. I would take an OB there, but with AT tires as a minimum; lift kit would be advisable and don't be too in love with your car looking perfect. As you have likely found, there are easy trails and hard trails so there will be at least some parts of the park accessible to an OB. If you go, I will be envious!
 

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I have been out to BBNP and BBSP a lot of times in my '11 Outback. All of the roads in the National Park you should be able to do. I've done Black Gap road and Old Ore road with no real problems. For some reason Black Gap gets some large whoop wash outs (wash up since it's a build up?) around some of the washes. Some can be a bit high, I'm 5'8" and the larger ones were probably stomach high. Most of the taller ones are a bit steep to hit straight on so I just go at them from the side to help the approach/departure angles. It's a bit sketchy but if you do it within reason they aren't a problem. I would think the biggest problem on Black Gap is near River Road. There is a step up that could pose a problem. The step up is too high you can just stack some rocks in front of it, or use a max track. However right after it is this weird rock that my Outback is barely high enough to go over. I would normally climb the wall to the left a bit to go around it. The last time there I had more guts and tried to just to over it and it was fine. However if the car was any lower it would have been bad. I moved away from Texas about a year and a half ago and haven't been out there since. These trails change a bit over time to take what I say knowing it might be slightly different. I watched a bunch of Youtube videos before I went and the trails were significantly different. Some spots were in better shape and some in worse. You have a recovery vehicle which is nice, so just go for it. My Outback was stock the first few times out there, including passenger tires. I did get a flat with my passenger tires, however I was going a bit fast in a soft sandy bit trying to get to breakfast and a hidden rock got me. So both Black Gap and Old Ore were done in a 100% stock 2011 Outback with some technical driving.

We discovered the state park on our last trip. We originally thought, for some unknown reason, the state park was just hiking trails coming off the main paved road that split the state and national park. So I don't have much experience here but it is definitely worth checking out. The main road through the park is no big deal. The Road to Nowhere looks like there might be a bit much and same with Christmas Mountain Road. We ran out of time in the state park to really explore those two roads, but they were on the itinerary for next trip. I would make sure to bring the friends in the Tacoma to pull you out of a bad situation on those two roads.

Our favorite camp site ever was Twisted Shoe, however plan it taking at least two hours to get there from Panther Junction. Dog Canyon trail is really small but there are some cool spots to climb/scramble in there, and we've never seen other people there. If you get out of the park and head towards Terlingua you can see some cool petroglyphs. The trail is at the end of Indian Head road and is a fun hike. The Chisos Basin Lodge has a restaurant and has one of our all time favorite views from a restaurant. They also have local beers on tap which is nice after a long day of hiking or riding back roads. They use to have Big Bend Brewing from Alpine but BBB went out of business right after we left, so I'm not sure of their tap selection. They have a nice front porch/patio area for coffee/beer drinking. The National Park is the least used so you should have the place mostly to yourselves. The State Park gets used even less, so I wouldn't really worry too much about crowds. That was one of the big draws for us to go out there. We would only see people when ventured into the basin when we were sick of eating PB sandwiches or re-hydrated meals.
 
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