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Contact: Tom VandenBerg, 432-477-1107
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS – With the 1341-acre South Rim Fire declared out over most of the Chisos Mountains, park visitors will soon be able to again enjoy many popular trails and backpacking campsites. On Monday, May 24th trails will open for day hiking and exploration. The popular trail network in the Chisos Mountains backcountry has been closed since April 8th due to the wildfire which began along the remote South Rim of the Chisos.
“After seven weeks of closures, we are glad to be able to safely open up access to the Chisos Mountains trail system, so hikers can enjoy many of the park’s highlights, including the South Rim and Emory Peak,” said Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
Chisos hikers should be aware that they will be traveling through some areas that were impacted by the South Rim Fire. The Chisos woodlands are now a mosaic of burned and unburned areas of various intensities. For safety, the National Park Service (NPS) asks hikers to be alert, stay on established trails, and watch out for any falling trees, especially during high winds. Trails that will reopen on Monday, May 24th are:
- Pinnacles Trail
- Emory Peak Trail
- South Rim Trail
- Boot Canyon Trail
- Colima Trail
The East Rim Trail will reopen on June 1st when the existing Peregrine Falcon Nesting Closure lifts.
Hot spots still remain in the Juniper Canyon area, and that trail will remain closed until further notice.
Backpacking campsites along these trails will reopen on Tuesday, June 1st. Backcountry Permits are required to use these campsites, and may be obtained online at www.recreation.gov. The backcountry campsites fared very well in the fire, and the majority were not impacted at all. Several campsites are located near areas that burned more intensely, and may not provide as much shade as before. Site descriptions on www.recreation.gov have been updated with new info and images of affected sites.
The South Rim Fire destroyed the composting vault toilet that served the popular South and East Rim area. The NPS is currently assessing options of rebuilding the toilet in that remote wilderness location. Until then, overnight backpackers at the South Rim (SR) and East Rim (ER) campsites will be required to pack out human waste using a waste disposal kit, such as PETT, Cleanwaste, WAG bags, Restop II, or similar commercial products. The bag within a bag design and ziplock closure securely contains waste and odor, while the special blend of polymers instantly breaks down waste and renders it into a deodorized gel. The contents of the bag are safe for disposal in trash receptacles and landfills, and the bags provide a lightweight, sanitary way to pack out waste.
These waste disposal systems are widely available through online retailers, and for purchase at Panther Junction Visitor Center, Chisos Basin Visitor Center, and the Chisos Basin Store.
Last updated: May 21, 2021