The Noted’s very own, Erica, recently visited Big Bend National Park with her husband, Greg, and their three kids in tow. As you can probably gather from the photos, it was a pretty epic vacay. And y’all know what that means – we’re dubbing it a #noteworthy thing. 10/10 would absolutely do it again and already have plans to! So, check out the video recap and skim our notes below so you, too, can visit Big Bend with your significant other or even the whole fam!
Who: Erica’s Family of Five
Yep, you read that right. Erica and Greg brought their nine-, six- and three-year olds along with them on their trip out west–and it was perfect! National parks can be a really affordable way for you to see the country and get outdoors with your little ones. The drive from Dallas-Fort Worth out to Big Bend ranges anywhere from six to eight hours, depending on where you’re located in the metroplex.
What: Road Trip to Hike Big Bend + Stargazing in Fort Davis
For Greg and Erica, it was about a six and a half hour drive. She recommends printing or taking screen shots of the directions before you hit Terlingua because cell phone service can be spotty. It’s also important to note your time of arrival–mainly because many of the stores and restaurants close early or make their own hours.
We’ve compiled a list (or notes, if you will) of places to stay, dine and sightsee.
- Hang out at the Chisos Mountain Lodge & Ranger Station: One of the Rangers worked with Erica’s two oldest on their Junior Ranger workbooks. When they had completed so many tasks, she then swore them in as Junior Rangers… After all, not all classrooms have four walls! (Side note: The Visitor Station in the Chisos Mountains is currently closed for renovations, so be sure to check the National Park website for updates.)
- Hike Emory Peak (about 11 miles) and Lost Mine Trail (2ish miles): Spending the time in the mountains was ideal during the day, because the temperature was about 20 degrees cooler up there than it was back down in the desert.
- Visit Terlingua Trading Company: This is basically a smaller general store and gift shop in one. Here, you buy beer, sit on the extended patio with the locals, listen to musicians play guitars and banjos while staring out over the deserts and mountains. According to Erica, “It’s beyond picturesque and reminds me of how it must’ve been in the 1800’s.”
- Go on a Guided Tour: Erica highly, HIGHLY recommends hiring a local guide for at least one of the days. Tony Drewry (you may recognize the name from an earlier post) took Erica and her family on a tour through the desert, showing them secret entrances and teaching them about the local history and landscape in the area.
“It’s beyond picturesque and reminds me of how it must’ve been in the 1800’s.”Erica, The Noted Experiment
- Basecamp Terlingua: Want to Glamp in a tipi or stay in a bubble to allow maximum stargazing for you and your spouse? This place is where it’s at, but don’t wait because a bunch of the spots are already booked through May 2020.
- Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel: If you’re interested in visiting the McDonald Observatory (just a one hour drive from Terlingua), this is a pretty affordable option. The whole family of five was able to stay in one room for $100/night. Just know that there aren’t many food options, so she recommends grabbing lunch at High Sierra Bar & Grill in Terlingua before heading out.
- High Sierra Bar & Grill: Its nothing fancy, but the food was really good, it’s kid friendly, and Erica #noted that there was a band that was all about having littles running around and dancing in front of the stage. Get this: the chef even showed the kids a snake he had found the night before. Yes, he brought a live snake into the restaurant!
- Cottonwood General Store: Great place to stop for firewood and snacks on your way into town. Erica said it was just up the road from their turn that took them to Basecamp where they were staying.
- Starlight Theatre Restaurant & Saloon: This is about 10 feet away from the aforementioned porch sittin’ at Terlingua Trading Company. Erica said there was live entertainment at the time (a musician from Fort Worth!) and the food was awesome.
Why: Sometimes You Need to Wander Where the Wifi is Weak
Unplug from the noise and get outside because kids aren’t ever going to remember their best day of television, but we’re pretty sure they’ll remember a trip like this for the rest of their lives.
Give us a holler if you decide to head out to Big Bend. We’d love to hear about it. And be sure to tag us @thenotedexperiment if you do. Happy trails!