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MONDAY - We have a very short 34-mile travel day today.

We'll be leaving the Cottonwood Campground (elev. 2134') and heading towards our Grapevine Hills Campsite (elev. 3930') which should give us a little relief from the 90°F temperatures we've recorded the last couple of days.

Cottonwood Campground was down low along the Rio Grande River and tucked into a protected valley with lots of trees and river reeds to shield us from the high winds. During our 4-day visit the highest wind recorded at our campsite was 31MPH.

Now we're here at Grapevine Hills and while we enjoy the lower temperatures we've lost our protection from the winds. The moment I set up our anemometer (wind measurement device) it instantly recorded a 34MPH gust. The big difference here is we are constantly under a 20-25MPH breeze which makes it difficult to leave any windows open.

At the base of the Chisos Mountains are two peaks which are called "Mule Ears" (elev. 3881').

We continued along our drive and eventually started gaining elevation. Near the top of the route is a side road to a pullout called Sotol Vista, which we took the time to check out.

I waited in the truck while Tricia took the photos, we were double parked.

That's the road we traveled UP to get here from Cottonwood Campground.

It wasn't long before we were pulling into our campsite here at Grapevine Hills. Our site, GH1 is less than 500-yards off the main highway that travels through the park. It is separated from the highway by a tall natural berm, so we can't see, or be seen, from the highway.

Grapevine Hills #1 is rated for an occupancy of as many as 3 RVs.

The road goes to the very popular Balanced Rock Trailhead 6-miles down the road.
There are also four more campsites along the road, so yeah, a lot of traffic goes by each day.

Luckily we are just below the road level and the wind blows the dust away from our campsite.

The anemometer and Starlink are both up and running flawlessly, no obstructions.

TUESDAY - Today we've decided to drive up into the Chisos Mountains and have lunch at the Chisos Mountain Lodge's dining room.

Chisos Mountains Lodge is only 6.5-miles from the main highway, but over that short distance you'll gain 1419' in elevation. So yes, when I say we drove UP into the mountains I mean UP!

Seen in the center is Casa Grande (elev. 7325). The lodge sits at the base of the mountain.

One of the five tight blind 180° turns in the road leading up to the lodge and campground.

The Chisos Basin Campground (elev. 5401) has a trailer limit of 20' and RV limit of 24'.

Their dining room is open to the public (meaning it's not just for lodge guests) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tricia ordered the Chicken Wrap and I had the Cheeseburger with fries.

After lunch we took the time to hike the short .03-mile Window View Trail. It's easy to see why they call it "The Window" as you can see all the way to Mexico from up here.

When we arrived back at the trailhead located behind the Camp Store and Visitor Center I got the strange feeling that we were being watched!

Sure enough, a few seconds later two young bucks popped up out of the brush. Just a few more seconds passed when two more, even younger bucks, came walking out of the tree line to our left.

Four young bucks all sighted in the same location, we hardly ever see even one. Judging by their behavior I'm going to say it happens a lot here at this location.

Yeah! That was me they cautiously passed by on the sidewalk.

WEDNESDAY - Big Bend National Park is large at just over 800,000 acres. It offers many different kinds of camping opportunities.

Most everyone is familiar with the three no-hookups campgrounds operated by the National Park Service, Cottonwood, Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin. There is also the privately managed Chisos Mountains Lodge (with hotel style rooms) and the Rio Grande Village RV Park (with water/electric/sewer hookups).

What most people may not be aware of, or possibly just not interested in, are the 23 Primitive Roadside Campsites that can be reserved in advance at Recreation.gov for a reasonable fee.

If you want an even more remote and primitive camping experience there are another 41 Backcountry Sites that require you to reserve in person the day before, or the day of, the dates you desire to camp at the Visitor Centers. Of course these sites are only accessible with a high-clearance 4-wheel vehicle.

In other words, there's a little something for everbody here at Big Bend National Park.

Early morning at "The Window" from the Chisos Mountains Lodge.

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