こんばんは！How’s it going?
Today was our full day at Big Bend National Park. Our family style for this vacation is to take it easy and not “maximize” our time here. What that means is basically:
- Wake up at a reasonable hour, about 7:30 AM
- Enjoy nice meals(eat well with good company)
- Choose a few activities, but don’t stress out about completing them all. It’s not a quest!
- Rest when we are tired
I honestly don’t know if this is the norm, or if we are more relaxed about it than most people, but for some reason I am used to trying to squeeze the most out of my vacation time by waking early, sticking to a schedule, seeing every sight possible, etc.
That being said, I like the relaxed itinerary! Rushing sucks. I like being able to drive at or below the speed limit and not worry about being late. In fact, if we don’t have a set schedule, there is nothing to be late for.
Anyways, today we woke up at 7-ish and then got ready for the day, then enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Chisos Mountains Lodge Restaurant. I had the Huevos Rancheros (sunny side up), both kids had breakfast burritos, and Mariko had the “Wagon Wheels”, which were two massively fluffy pancakes. All in all, we are pretty happy with the Chisos Lodge Restaurant, which offers pretty good food at reasonable prices, considering the next nearest restaurant is an hour away.
Our first stop was the Balanced Rock. You get to the Grapevine Hills Trail trailhead by traveling about 6 miles down Grapevine Road, which is a gravel-covered dirt road, with a little bit of washboard to rattle your bones, but not too hairy. Our Prius handled the road fine, as long as we kept our speed to about 14 MPH. While driving on the gravel, I kept imagining how great it would be to ride that road on my GS, or even my old Toyota 4×4… Perhaps some day!
From the trailhead, it was about an hour round-trip to the Balanced Rock which is very cool, but a little smaller than we imagined. There were a few other families on the trail, so when we made it to the Balanced Rock, there were many people to trade family photographer duties with.
The hike is pretty easy, with a slight uphill most of the way in, and then some moderately easy climbing for the last part. Not difficult at all! Balanced Rock was a fun hike and should be on your list of Big Bend activities.
Next, we headed to the west end of the park, to hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. This trail is also fairly easy, winding next to majestic canyon walls and a gently flowing Rio Grande river. The views are spectacular (make sure to look up!) and there are plenty of nice photo opportunities, the best of which are near the end of the trail. Stand on the rock outcroppings just before the end of the trail for the best shots.
It takes about an hour to drive from Santa Elena Canyon back to the Chisos Mountains Lodge, so we arrived around sunset, and headed straight for the restaurant. One good thing about the restaurant is that they serve Big Bend Brewery beers on tap, so we got to enjoy delicious ice-cold beer to finish our day.
Our hiking day was pretty dang fun, even though we hiked two of the easiest trails in the park. They may have been cakewalks, but the views were amazing. We are definitely happy!
I can imagine hiking some longer and more strenuous trails in the future once the boys are a little bigger. We’ll see if they have interest in it, because if they do, I’m all for more hiking.
Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving Eve!