Big Bend Exploring and Hiking

Destination: Big Bend National Park

| Activities: Hiking and Kayaking

The Big Bend region of Texas is untouched, under-touristed, and just a little bit funky. This trip brings you into the heart of the region with hiking in Big Bend State Park and Big Bend National Park, paddling the Rio Grande and a trek up into the Chisos Mountains- a trail that Backpacker Magazines includes in their ‘100 Best Miles of Hiking in the US’. You will experience the eclectic style of West Texas people, nature, and history. This desert that on first glance seems so lifeless is filled with hardy vegetation and a myriad of desert creatures. We think the Big Bend Region is a world set apart and suspect you will too. We agree with the the folks in the Big Bend region- “West Texas is the Best Texas!”


  • Experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Big Bend National Park on foot
  • Paddling along the Rio Grande River and admiring the natural border between Mexico and the United States
  • Hiking in the Chisos Mountains along the South Rim Trail
  • Star gazing in the desert darkness- Big Bend is part of the International Dark Sky Park

Departures and Prices

October 01 to October 08, 2021
$2495.00 - FULL
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February 07 to February 14, 2022
$2495.00 - Limited Availability
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November 04 to November 11, 2022
$2695.00 - FULL
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights lodging in a historic hotel, cabins and National Park Lodge (motel rooms)
  • All meals from breakfast on Day 2 through lunch on the last day. We will go out to restaurants for most meals and the guides will prepare the others.
  • Round-trip transportation from El Paso to the Park
  • Park entry fees

Not included: Travel to and from El Paso, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is designed for women who enjoy hiking in the mountains and desert surrounded by breathtaking scenery. We will be hiking 6 - 10 miles a day in hilly terrain with steep ascents and descents, along rocky and uneven terrain. Previous hiking experience is extremely useful, as is having a sense of adventure and a good level of physical fitness. A rating of 4 requires aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2-hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is appropriate.  Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the uniqueness of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the this park than by foot and from a kayak. Some of the hikes are quite challenging in terms of length and elevation gain, and it is an excellent trip for fit intermediate and experienced hikers who like hikes of intermediate or longer length.

The lodging on this trip will vary as much as the landscape. The accommodations will include a historic hotel, casita (little house in Spanish) and a National Park lodge. The lodging will have en suite bathrooms. The casitas will have a small kitchenette. There is an option at an additional cost to get a single room. You can select this option at registration.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Today is arrival day! You are free to arrive in El Paso anytime today. Your group meeting will be tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. at breakfast. More details about meeting place will be in pre-trip letter. Tonight's lodging is included in your trip fee. Dinner is on your own.
We start our trip at our El Paso hotel at 9am! Your guides will meet you at the hotel and after brief introductions the group will begin the journey east with a three-hour drive to Marfa- a former sleepy ranching town that has exploded onto the art scene. We'll check into our lodging at the historic Hotel Paisano, chat about the trip, spend some free time exploring this unique town, share dinner downtown and maybe even spy the mysterious Marfa Lights. (B, L, D)
Leaving Marfa, we'll depart for Big Bend Ranch State Park, stopping at the Fort Leaton ranger station before driving the scenic River Road along the Rio Grande. From the Fresno Creek trailhead, we will hike approximately 9 miles on a loop trail through the Chihuahuan Desert. Before becoming a State Park, this area was home to mining and ranching operations. After our hike we will continue to Terlingua Ghost Town and settle in to our casitas, our home for the next three nights. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we'll take a short drive to the Mesa de Anguila Trail, one of the most spectacular hikes in the National Park. The mesa sits high atop Santa Elena Canyon and serves as the western border of the park. We'll hike from Lajitas about 2 miles to the saddle, which offers a view to the Rio Grande far below us as well as into Mexico. From here, you can choose to continue along the mesa (it goes on much farther than we have time to walk) for an out-and-back hike with 360-degree vistas. (B, L, D)
From yesterday's eagle-eye viewpoint we spied the Rio Grande and today we'll be paddling in it! We’ll drive into the National Park and, depending on water levels, we will kayak through Santa Elena Canyon or Dark Canyon and explore the 2,000-foot cathedral-like walls that create a natural border. This half-day paddle lets us explore the riparian zones of the Rio. Our local outfitter will provide instruction as well as natural history interpretation. We’ll return to Terlingua for dinner . (B, L, D)
Today we move from our casitas in Terlingua to Chisos Mountain Lodge, within the National Park. Our first stop is the National Park Visitor Center at Panther Junction. We’ll continue to Chisos Basin and hike the Window Trail, an out-and-back 5.6-mile route through Oak Creek Canyon. After our hike, we’ll move into our rooms and enjoy the scenery of the basin before meeting for dinner at the lodge. (B, L, D)
We're saving our most spectacular hike for last. Today we explore the South Rim Trail in the Chisos Mountains, the only mountain range that is entirely encompassed in the borders of a US National Park! Our 12-mile loop hike rewards us with dramatic vistas of the Sierra del Carmen Mountains of Mexico as well as the rolling foothills of the Chisos as they settle into the flat floor of the Chihuahuan Desert thousands of feet below. It's a long day and a tough hike, but you won't regret it. (B, L, D)
The trip may be ending but the journey isn't over! After a breakfast at the lodge we'll load up and drive two hours to Alpine, where we'll stop to stretch our legs before three more hours in the car brings us to El Paso. We’ll have our last picnic lunch together along the way. You can plan to fly out after 3:30 p.m. (B, L)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.


(9 reviews)
4.3 Food
3.6 Lodging
4.4 Safety
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Lauretta L.
1 year ago

Each day our guides had a mini meeting with everyone to discuss the day and what was expected for the upcoming hike.

Janice C.
1 year ago

I wanted to walk far and we did!

Deb C.
1 year ago

Since this was a 1st run trip, there were a few hiccups. But I thought our guides worked thru them very well. The town of Terlingua was really fun and unique. I really enjoyed the hike of the Mesa de Anguilla. The kayaking day was my favorite. The river was low, so it was just a float. The views of the canyon walls were just amazing. We had lunch on the bank of the river. It was a humorous and lovely day. There is substantial van time on this trip. This is a big NP and remote. So, it is part of the deal. The road from the Chisos Lodge to Marathon had amazing views of the park and was very enjoyable. Our group was fun. We laughed a lot.

Doris E.
1 year ago

Hiking in extraordinary Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park (especially the South Rim) and kayaking the Rio Grande in Santa Elena Canyon with the usual great group of participants and guides were definitely the highlights, though I didn’t consider it a “true” level 4 trip.

Linda K.
1 year ago

Enjoyed all of the hikes and the kayaking. The lodge and hotel were great. The tipis were interesting; the only downside was the trek to the washroom during the cold and windy nights. The guides were great!

Luann P.
1 year ago

Bernice T.
1 year ago

The activities were terrific, accommodations were 2 out of 3 great, guides were fantastic. I was disappointed that there was not much socializing during our downtimes, and would have preferred less driving. Low light of the trip was the border crossing/hot springs--would have preferred another day of hiking or kayaking

Kathi W.
1 year ago

I loved seeing the variety of the area but I was not expecting so much driving - albeit inevitable!

Karin L.
1 year ago

Worthwhile; varied; good mix of exertion and rest days. Beautiful place. I’m so glad I went. 12 mile hike in Chisos was the BEST. Kayaking in the canyon second.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most meal breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches will either be packed lunches (guides will put out lunch fixings in the morning) or picnic style. Some dinners will be prepared by the guides.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.