Big Bend Ranch
Brochure of Campsites in Big Bend Ranch State Park (SP) in Texas. Published by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
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Campsites of the Big Bend Ranch State Park This document was written and produced by Gary Nored for the Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas. It is released under the Creative Commons License for non-profit use as long as attribution of authorship is included. Commercial use is prohibited without written permission of the author. Thanks go to Barrett Durst, park superintendent, who had the idea for the publication and whose unflagging support helped make it possible. I’d also like to thank David Riskin and all the other park staff who contributed information and helped ensure that the document is accurate. Copyright 2013 by Gary Nored www.tpwd.texas.gov i PWD BK P4501-2059 (2/21) TPWD receives funds from the USFWS. TPWD prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, and gender, pursuant to state and federal law. To request an accommodation or obtain information in an alternative format, please contact TPWD on a Text Telephone (TTY) at (512) 389-8915 or by Relay Texas at 7-1-1 or (800) 735-2989 or by email at email@example.com. If you believe you have been discriminated against by TPWD, please contact TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office for Diversity and Workforce Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. ii Introduction The Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas and one of the largest state parks in the country. Within its boundaries you will find limitless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Silence and solitude, expansive vistas, quiet canyons and dark skies make the Big Bend Ranch State Park one of the best wilderness experiences in Texas, and we do everything we can to keep it that way. We have campsites in the Bofecillos Highlands, the Solitario, the Cienega Mountains and along the Rio Grande. Sites were selected for their views and/or their proximity to park attractions. Some are “sleepers” — you may have to walk a bit or climb a nearby hill to see why we chose them. Others will instantly wow you. But all pay rich dividends to those who explore the area. A handfull of campsites are accessible in a passenger vehicle but most are located in remote areas; the rugged terrain and unimproved dirt roads make access challenging. High clearance vehicles will take you to many sites; others require high clearance and fourwheel drive to reach. With few exceptions the site you select is yours and yours alone — no other camps are visible. The silence is palpable and the night skies truly extraordinary. About This Book The campsites are arranged alphabetically. For each, a brief description of the area, the amenities it offers, and the type of vehicle you will need to reach it is accompanied by photographs. In writing the book I’ve personally visited and camped at every campsite in the park. The descriptions here reflect my personal experience of the area. The photographs were all taken within easy walking distance of the campsites and are representative of the surrounding scenery. A Few Words About Safety All deserts are unforgiving environments. Extreme temperatures, low humidity, and lack of water can be hazardous to the unprepared. While exploring be sure to carry water — lots of water. Always carry first aid supplies and other self-rescue gear. Carry the park’s Exploration Map any time you intend to be out of sight of your vehicle, along with a compass and the knowledge of how to use it. Carry a GPS if you have one and set it to record your “track” as you go. If at all possible, travel with a partner. While on the road, be prepared for emergencies. Make sure your tires are in excellent condition. If at all possible, carry two spares, and make sure you have all your tire changing gear in the vehicle before you leave. Carry extra water and food along with clothes you can wear in a variety of conditions — desert weather may change dramatically and quickly! Don’t rely on cell phones — there’s no service out here. Above all, please tell the ranger station where you are going and when you expect to return. This information is vital to park personnel in an emergency. Gary Nored iii Table of Contents Agua Adentro Pens 2 Mexicano 1 Campsite 54 Arenosa Campground 4 Mexicano 2 Campsite 56 Chorro Vista Campsite 6 Ojo Escondido Campsite 58 Contrabando Campsites 8 Ojo Escondido Pens Campsite 60 Fresno Canyon Campsite 10 Papalote Colorado Campsite 62 Fresno Vista Campsite 12 Papalote Encino Campsite 64 Grassy Banks Campsite 14 Papalote Llano Campsite 66 Guale Mesa 1 Campsite 16 Papalote Llano Nuevo Campsite 68 Guale Mesa 2 Campsite 18 Papalote Nuevo Campsite 70 Jackson Pens Campsite 20 Paso al Solitario Campsite 72 Javelin Campsite 22 Pila de los Muchachos Campsite 74 Javelin Pens Campsite 24 Pila Montoya 1 Campsite 76 La Cuesta Campsite 26 Pila Montoya 2 Campsite 78 La Monilla Campsite 28 Pila Montoya 3 Campsite 80 La Mota 1 Campsite 30 Rancherias Campsite 82 La Mota 2 Campsite 32 Rancho Viejo Campsite 84 La Posta Campsite 34 Rincon 1 Campsite 86 Las Burras 1 Campsite 36 Rincon 2 Campsite 88 Las Burras 2 Campsite 38 South Leyva Campground 90 Las Burras 3 Campsite 40 Tascate 1 Campsite 92 Los Alamos Campsite 42 Tascate 2 Campsite 94 Los Cuates Campsite 44 Tres Papalotes Campsite 96 Los Hermanos Campsite 46 Vista de Bofecillos Campsite 98 Los Ojitos Campsite 48 Vista del Chisos Campsite 100 Madera Canyon Campgrounds 50 Yedra 1 Campsite 102 McGuirk’s Tanks Campsite 52 Yedra 2 Campsite 104 1 iv Agua Adentro Pens Livestock Pens Agua Adentro Pens is an equestrian staging area located along the main road to the Sauceda Ranch complex. Up to 24 persons and 12 vehicles can camp here. This site consists of three large shade shelters, several livestock pens, three fire rings and a traditional ocotillo fence surrounding a small livestock pen. Primitive toilets are located at the site, however water is no longer available. The parking area is large – it is easy to move any horse or travel trailer around to make camp more comfortable. Centrally located in the beautiful Bofecillos mountains, Agua Adentro Pens offers easy access to the Old Entrance Road, Las Burras Road, and the Oso Loop. GPS Coordinates 29° 28' 50.756" N 104° 2' 30.425" W Antique Chuckwagon 2 View West-Northwest of Agua Adentro Mountain Stock Pens 3 Arenosa Campground Arenosa Campground The Arenosa Group Camping Area is located approximately 25 miles east of Presidio and 40 miles west of Study Butte on FM 170. You don’t need a special vehicle to reach this campground. This sandy campsite accommodates up to 12 people at a time; it provides picnic tables, fire rings, lantern hangers, trash receptacles and toilets. Near the entrance, two shaded picnic tables rest on a concrete pad that is protected on three sides by a short wall. Two fire rings lie nearby and the primitive toilets are within easy walking distance. You can get to the river in a few places though most of the banks are covered with tall stands of carrizo, or river cane. The area is prone to flooding so check at one of the park visitor centers before coming. Nearby trails include Closed Canyon, three branches of the Rancherias trail system, and “The Hoodoos.” GPS Coordinates: W 104° 04' 46.961" N 29° 20' 47.613" 4 View East of the River View West Arenosa Campground 5 Chorro Vista Campsite The Chorro Vista campsite is situated just below the edge of a high promontory overlooking Fresno Canyon, Arroyo Mexicano, and Chorro Canyon. The hill is the highest point for some distance – it affords one of the finest views of Fresno Canyon and the Contrabando Lowlands in the park. The Chorro Canyon, Mexicano Overlook, and Smith-Crawford House trails take hikers to the canyons, springs, and mesas that surround the campsite. There are many wildlife trails in this area as well as unmarked routes. If you plan to hike in this area you should obtain a copy of the Fresno West Rim map before leaving. The map is available for free at the visitors center. Four-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles are required to reach this campsite; the parking area accommodates up to three vehicles. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 23' 4.926" W 103° 53' 0.392" 6 View South of Chorro Canyon View East of Fresno Canyon 7 Contrabando Campground View North from the Campsites The Contrabando Campsites are some of the newest car-camping facilities in the park. The campsite is located 8.3 miles west of the Barton Warnock Visitor Center on a narrow spit of land that separates the Fresno and Contrabando Canyons. The facility has three shade shelters, along with picnic tables and fire rings. You will need to bring food, water, and toilet facilities for your stay. You do not need a special vehicle to reach these campsites. Possessing a view to the west of some of the most colorful geology in the park, these campsites are hugely popular among bicyclists – they are the entry point to the entrance to the Contrabando Trail System which provides access to many miles of scenic hiking and riding. For an easy day hike, follow the road down to Fresno Creek, and pass through the gate. You can explore Fresno Canyon upstream for many miles, and downstream for about 1¼ miles where the creek enters the Rio Grande. From the Scenic Overlook trail you can see the famous “flatirons” which flank the southwestern portion of the Solitario. The Fresno Divide trail provides a longer day hike (about 6 miles round-trip). Cyclists will enjoy the fact that it is a single-track trail; views along the way are excellent. Coordinates 29° 17' 58.44" N 103° 50' 43.39" W 8 View West from the Campsites Summer Rains Bring Life to the Desert 9 Fresno Canyon Campsite View Northeast The Fresno Canyon campsite rests on a rocky bank above the floodplain of Fresno Creek. A short climb up any nearby rise gives you an outstanding view of the Solitario’s most famous feature, the flatirons. The flatirons rise at angles up to 50° for 1,000 feet or more and the campsite is less than a mile away. Though impressive at any time of day, the flatirons present an unforgettable sight near sunset as they catch the warm light and reflect it in brilliant colors ranging from pink to orange. There is great cross-country hiking all around – gentle slopes and clear views make exploring the area a pleasant experience. Hitching posts across the road mark the starting point for excellent equestrian exploration of the west bank of the canyon. All hikers should purchase and carry with them the latest Exploration Map of the park. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 24' 57.977" W 103° 51' 44.478" 10 View East of the Flatirons View North 11 Fresno Vista Campsite Campsite The Fresno Vista Campsite is an easily accessible camp located approximately 10 miles east of Sauceda Headquarters. The site rests in a protected area which enjoys welcome shade for part of the mornings and evenings and some protection from wind. Though 4WD is not required, high clearance is recommended. Though there are no officially designated hiking trails nearby, there is still plenty of excellent hiking to be had. By hiking just north of the parking area you can easily skirt the steep slopes near the picnic table and make your way to a broad mesa east of the site. From this mesa you can catch excellent views of the Fresno Canyon headwaters. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 29' 57.583" W 103° 51' 5.433" 12 View South View East 13 Grassy Banks Campsite View South The Grassy Banks campground lies on the Rio Grande off FM 170. It has three sheltered and three open campsites, all with picnic tables, fire rings and lantern hangers. Up to eight people may register for any of these sites. The campground also has trash receptacles and a primitive toilet. The water is deeper here than in many stretches of the river and is sometimes one of the last spots available for river tours — it is popular with paddlers of all sorts. There is indeed an excellent “grassy bank” here which makes it easy to set up lawn furniture for use when fishing. The area is prone to flooding so you should check at park headquarters about accessibility before your arrival. You do not need high clearance or 4WD to reach these campsites. Grassy Banks is less than 3.5 miles from the Fresno Creek Overlook on FM 170. The trail from the overlook connects to the Contrabando trail system which includes the Camino Viejo, Contrabando Creek Loop, Contrabando Dome and Limestone Vista trails. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 16' 55.572" W 103° 53' 10.092" 14 View East Paddlers Starting a River Tour 15 Guale Mesa 1 Campsite View North The Guale 1 campsite is located 6.7 miles south on the East Oso Loop, a rugged road which requires use of a 4WD high-clearance vehicle. The roomy campsite is sheltered on all four sides by high ridges. The drainage near the site is at the upper end of Rancherias Canyon. Hike upstream, bearing to the right from the campsite to see the Alamito Dam, a beautiful stone header dam built during the Fowlkes brothers’ ownership of the property, or climb the hill on the west of the campsite to enjoy spectacular views all round. The dominant peak to the east-northeast is Aguja de la Colmena, a landmark shown on the earliest maps of the area. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 25' 17.732" W 104° 0' 44.685" 16 View East from Nearby Hilltop View South from Nearby Hilltop 17 Guale Mesa 2 Campsite View South of “La Guitarra” Mountain Located on a high bluff above Lower Guale Mesa and near the edge of a Rancherias Canyon, Guale 2 campsite has dramatic vistas in every direction. This is the most remote, and by far the most spectacular campsite in the entire park. Guale 2 has it all — millions of years of volcanic geology to study, views into Mexico, solitude that is deafening and sunrises and sunsets that will change the way you think about color forever. The sheltered fire ring overlooks the canyon and is perfect for small group meetings. The tent pads are perched on the overlook and on a ledge overlooking the canyon. You can reach the Rancherias West Trail from here via an old wagon road. An old shepherd’s camp lies just at the end of the descent. This is very rugged country; you should take maps, compass, and plenty of water if you go hiking. Do not travel alone and tell someone where you are going before you leave. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 23' 30.191" W 104° 2' 15.736" 18 Sunrise Looking West Old Wagon Road 19 Jackson Pens Campsite Nearby Hillside Jackson Pens is located on a stock working site of long standing and is still a good staging point for equestrian activities. Pearl Andrew (PA) Jackson leased land in the area as early as 1918 as part of the Bandera Mesa Ranch. There was a sheep shearing operation here before cattle were brought in. This was one of the last parcels the Fowlkes brothers added to the Sauceda Ranch. Today many ranching relics remain at the site. Along with the pens themselves, the pila, or water tank, that provided water for the livestock is at the top of a hill just north of the pens. A bebedero (watering trough) just north of the site still has water for animals. An old road makes it an easy hike to reach the top and the view from the pila is excellent. Jackson Tank is a good spot for wildlife viewing. You need a high-clearance vehicle to negotiate the incoming road and 4WD to travel over the rim of the solitario. There is plenty of room for several vehicles and the site is equipped with a shade shelter, picnic table and fire ring. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 31' 3.599" W 103° 50' 18.238" 20 View West of the Livestock Pens View East Showing Pens and Pila 21 Javelin Campsite Situated on level ground near an old stock tank, Javelin Campsite seems unimpressive as you approach it. But when you start exploring the area you will see why this site was chosen for camping. To the east you can see the rolling hills of the Llano; climb any nearby hill and you will find excellent views of Fresno Peak which is located in the Solitario 7.4 miles away. To the west lies Panther mountain. The road that takes you to the campsite continues as a hiking route northeast through a scenic drainage ending at another old stock tank. There are several excellent views of Panther Mountain along the way. You need a high clearance vehicle to reach this campsite but you do not need 4WD. The Javelin trailhead is nearby as well as access points to trails that take you through the upper reaches of Panther Canyon and Monilla Canyon. The campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. There is no water at the site, but water is available at the old Javelin camp under the windmill just over a quarter mile away. GPS Coordinates: 29° 24' 27.893" N 103° 57' 34.292" W 22 View West of Panther Mountains View Northeast of Fresno Creek 23 Javelin Pens Campsite Javelin Pens is an equestrian staging site set in an open flatland. The site is remarkable for the many ranching artifacts scattered about. A windmill marks the location of a well that is still productive – a solar-powered submersible pump provides non-potable water now. Look around the area – you’ll find waterwell equipment spanning a time period from the 19 th to the 21 st century. Antique machinery buffs will love this campsite. Many large sheep corrals remain here, standing alongside holding pens, a concrete sheep shearing floor, and a few small barns and lean-to’s. The residence is a ruin; the small chicken-wire fence on one side probably kept lambs, lad goats, and small children from wandering off into the desert. Walking up any of the surrounding hills will reward you with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Look to the west at sunset to see Fresno Peak catch the light of the setting sun. Nearby hike and bike trails lead to Panther and Monilla canyons and the road west of here is part of the Rancheria Loop trail. Hikers have long used Javelin Pens as a water caching area and a stopping place on that three-day hike. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 24' 21.599" W 103° 57' 15.893" 24 75 RPM, 2 Horsepower Diesel Engine Above: Panther Mountains Left: Well and Old Pump Jack 25 La Cuesta Campsite View West The La Questa campground is located just off Highway 170 on a the grassy banks of the Rio Grande. It is an ideal stopping place for paddlers as it is one of the best put-ins when the river is low. The boat ramp is broad enough for more than one trailer and there is plenty of room for organizing large groups of paddlers. Santana Mesa lies directly to the north; the escarpment is brilliantly illuminated at sunset. As the river flows almost due east and west here, there are great opportunities for photographing the sun or moon rising and setting over the water. Wildflowers can be spectacular here along the river both in spring and late summer. Birding is excellent, and wildlife watchers will find plenty to observe in the pre-dawn and after dusk light. GPS Coordinates: 29° 17' 50.67" N 103° 57' 16.75" W 26 La Cuesta by Moonlight View North 27 La Monilla Campsite La Monilla rests in a small depression among the rolling hills that surround the west side of the Bofecillos Mountains. To the east, the Llano stretches for miles, and you are high enough to see the Chisos Mountains over 40 miles away, though you will have to climb the small hill next to the campsite or walk up the entrance road to the top of that hill to see it. The campsite has room for two vehicles to park; it is equipped with one picnic table and one fire ring. It is less than 1.5 miles to Mexicano trailhead and just a mile from the Primero trailhead so it is a convenient place for hikers to stay. You will need a 4WD high clearance vehicle to reach this site. The concrete box just west of the picnic table is what was known as a bebedero; it was a small watering trough for sheep and goats. The flotation mechanism which maintained the water level is still in good condition. The boards placed across one end were to keep animals from damaging the mechanism. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 22' 52.584" W 103° 54' 58.493" Above: View South from Nearby Hillside Right: Bebedero at La Monilla Campsite 28 View East of Chisos Mountains View Southwest from the Campsite 29 La Mota 1 Campsite La Mota 1 Campsite ~ View to the North The La Mota 1 campsite is a group meeting area located in the high desert. It is situated in low hills with ample room for family reunions and other large gatherings. The site offers wildlife viewing, day hikes, mountain biking and photography. It has a good view of La Mota Mountain which is particularly beautiful at sunrise. The campsite has two fire rings, two picnic tables, two shade shelters and 4 tent pads. You can probably reach this site in any high clearance vehicle, though depending on recent rainfall, you may need 4WD and high clearance. The road is relatively flat; however, there are several drainages filled with deep sand that you will have to cross. Check at the visitor’s center before attempting this in 2WD. The Leyva trailhead has a parking area located just 0.6 miles south-southwest of the site. The scenic Leyva trail complex reaches Cinco Tinajas in less than 4 miles; it contains numerous loops so it is easy to enjoy much shorter hikes. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 30' 25.690" W 103° 57' 27.680" 30 View East View West 31 La Mota 2 Campsite View South Located on the northern border of the central area of the park, La Mota 2 is tucked in among the boulders adjacent to La Mota Mountain. The picnic table and fire ring are surrounded by giant boulders. A ramada provides shade and shelter from rare rains. The campsite provides the best view of the east side of La Mota in the park. The small hill on the right side is named el Pulpito de la Mota, meaning La Mota’s pulpit. The road trace running to the north of the campsite intersects other road traces; one takes you to the canyon of Terneros Creek and another leads you around the north side of the mountain for a view of the west side. Climbing to the top, or even the sides of La Mota gives you commanding views of the dramatic landscapes of the Big Bend country. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 31' 36.626" W 103° 58' 7.477" 32 View West of La Mota Mountain at Daybreak View North 33 La Posta Campsite Camping at La Posta Located less than half a mile from the main road, the flat terrain and easy access to La Posta make it an excellent first-night stop for late arriving visitors. The site has a ramada (shade shelter), one picnic table, a fire ring and two tent pads. This campsite is only a half mile from the main road — you do not need high clearance or 4WD to get here. Nearby points of interest include La Posta Mountain (4630 ft) and Bogel Peak (4688 ft). According to local sources Bogel Peak is probably named for Judge William Woodworth Bogel, an original settler and founder of the Sauceda Ranch. The La Posta campsite has a shade shelter, picnic table, and fire ring. It is located in a unique area that encompasses characteristics of both the Llano (flat lands) and the upper Fresno Canyon. The Encino Hike and Bike Trail, the Llano Loop, the Old Stage Road Trail and Chilicote Spring Trail are nearby. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 28' 56.007" W 103° 53' 36.359" 34 Left: La Posta Mountain Below: View North from Campsite La Posta Campsite Looking West 35 Las Burras 1 Campsite View of Campsite Las Burras 1 is situated on a slightly elevated knoll in an area of mostly level ground. It has one picnic table and one fire ring, but no shade shelter. There is some shelter from winds as the site is nestled among several large boulders. It commands a pleasant view all round and the areas both north and south along the road are quite beautiful. You will definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to get there as the Las Burras road is unmaintained. There is a primitive horseback trail leading east that takes you to the rim of Oso Canyon. The canyon is less than a mile East-Southeast away. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 26' 7.333" W 104° 3' 3.186" 36 Sunrise at Las Burras 1 Remains of Rock Wall North of Las Burras 1 37 Las Burras 2 Campsite View South from Campsite Las Burras 2 rests directly beneath a small mountain on the southwest side. The site has two picnic tables and one fire ring, but no shade shelter. You will need both high clearance and 4WD to reach the site as the road is unmaintained. The area was used for livestock during the ranching days. If you walk north along the base of the mountain you will come to the old stock tank that provided water for the area. There are livestock pens south of the camping area, and you can probably see many other signs of ranching activity if you explore the area. The mountain looks substantial but you can easily walk around it on the south side — it is not very broad at all. Behind it is a valley shaped like small amphitheater. The rich soil supports a wide variety of desert plants including numerous grass species. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 25' 58.344" W -104° 3' 32.016" 38 “Amphitheater” South of Campsite Livestock Pens 39 Las Burras 3 Campsite View Southwest of Campsite Las Burras 3 is the southernmost campsite in the Las Burras series. You will definitely need a 4WD high clearance vehicle to get here as the road is not maintained, but the campsite is worth the drive. This section of the park is exceptionally rugged and scenic. Las Burras Canyon lies less than a mile. A beautiful side canyon lies directly to the south — exploratory hiking all round is excellent. The campsite is situated at the base of a small hillock; it has one picnic table, tent pad, and fire ring. Sunsets over Las Burras Canyon can be quite spectacular. GPS Coordinates: 29° 25' 45.452" N 104° 4' 8.753" W 40 Looking Down Into Nearby Canyon Sunset at Las Burras 41 Los Alamos Campsite Picnic Table at Los Alamos The Los Alamos Campsite is located half way between the main road entering the Solitario and the Los Alamos residence. The scenery on this road is excellent but the approach to the campsite requires 4WD high-clearance vehicles. All hiking here is cross-country, however Los Alamos is a good stopover for those driving the loop that goes north to the Los Alamos residence, then east and south through Panther Canyon and on to the Paso al Solitario campsite which is located on the Solitario road. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 31' 21.333" W 103° 48' 49.283" 42 View East from Los Alamos Campsite Typical Scene Near Los Alamos Campsite 43 Los Cuates Campsite Pilas at Los Cuates Los Cuates, which means twins or friends in Spanish are the two stone and concrete water tanks (pilas) that were an important part of the distribution of scarce water to livestock pastures in the far reaches of the ranch. If you look south from the picnic area you can see a third pila on the Guale road just past the Y. It dates to the early ranch era and had a wooden windmill and a goatherder or chivero living there. The campsite sits near the ruins of a windmill that at one time pumped water from a shallow well. Exposed to the south, the site is protected on the north by large igneous rock formations. To the east an impressive dike and canyon area known as La Iglesia (the church) offers excellent opportunities for exploration and day hikes. La Iglesia is named after the large church-like room in the dike you see to the East. Los Cuates was an important waystation. Just east there is a huge complex of stone shelters for protecting baby goats. The pila and mill complex is located at an important trail intersection. There is a horse trail from El Mulato in Mexico that passes Los Cuates on the way to the to the corrals at Rincon de Tascate – Vaqueros used a corral complex there to keep their personal mounts. From Los Cuatas one can hike the old horse trail to Sauceda or follow an old trail that leads west over the ridge and descends into Canyon del Oso. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 26' 8.737" W 104° 0' 14.708" 44 View South of Guale Road Looking North from Los Cuates Campsite 45 Los Hermanos Sunrise at Los Hermanos Campsite The Los Hermanos campsite is located on level ground in a valley about 200 yards wide. It is open and surrounded by gentle but rocky hills which allow good views to the north. You must cross the canyon where it is much narrower and steeper when you drive in, but this area is filled with groves of Apache Plume and deep grass. Birds that favor the grasslands frequent the shrubs and trees around the campsite. You will definitely need a 4WD high-clearance vehicle to get there, as the last part of the trip contains several very steep hills and loose rock. This is a good place to stay if you would like to hike or ride in the Chorro Vista area but cannot obtain a reservation there. It is about 3 miles to Chorro Vista and Mexicano Falls trailheads. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 23' 32.662" W 103° 54' 34.292" 46 View North View South 47 Los Ojitos Campsite View North at Sunset Los Ojitos is conveniently located about a mile from Sauceda headquarters. It is situated atop a hill with fine views to the north, west, and south. It is equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, and shade shelter. When flowing, the springs form a pond surrounded by overhanging willows. The header dam is a fine example of the excellent stone masonry in the park, and the small canyons nearby allow for easy hiking on firm surfaces. Los Ojitos lies on an old road that leads to the spring. You do not need a 4WD or high-clearance vehicle to drive it. The road becomes a hiking trail near the spring. If you hike that trail 1.3 miles to the southwest you will intersect the Horsetrap trail. The branch leading northeasterly takes you up an escarpment and along the top of a broad, flat mesa with fine views all around. The branch heading east southeast takes you to Horsetrap Springs and then to Sauceda headquarters. A short walk due west from the sharp turn in the Horsetrap trail takes you to the Pila del Gato, perhaps the most creatively built of all the water tanks in the park. The pila is surrounded with interesting ranching artifacts. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 27’ 57.403” W 103° 58’ 24.621” 48 Header Dam Near Los Ojitos View North From Los Ojitos Campsite 49 Madera Canyon Campgrounds View West from Upper Madera Campground The Madera Canyon campgrounds are located approximately 35 miles east of Presidio and 30 miles west of Lajitas on FM 170 at the base of the eastern slope of “The Big Hill.” There are two camping areas — Upper Madera and Lower Madera. There are sheltered sites at both campgrounds. These campsites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings and lantern hangers. There is a composting toilet in the Lower Madera Campground. Lower Madera is subject to flooding at high river levels. Check with a ranger prior to your arrival. The Upper Madera Campground is located on a terrace above the Rio Grand. It has spectacular views of the river, and of the famous “TeePees.” There are several large open areas designed for self-contained RVs. There are no hook-ups. The Madera Canyon campsites are centrally located between the Rancherias trailhead and the Fresno Canyon trailhead. GPS Coordinates: N 29° 17' 33.610" W 103° 55' 6.786" 50 View North from Madera Campground View South of Lower Madera Campground 51 McGuirk’s Tanks Campsite Full Moon Over McGuirk’s Tanks Campsite McGuirk’s Tanks campsite is located in the rolling hills of the central Solitario; it is an ideal campsite for visitors planning to hike the Righthand Shutup and Los Portales routes, or to explore the inner and outer loop trails. While there, be sure to walk to the top of the small hill to the west. The view from the top is excellent in all directions, but sunrise is outstanding as Solitario Peak catches the morning sun long