Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Backcountry Camping: Glenn Spring Road – Big Bend

in Big Bend National Park Backcountry Camping

Glenn Spring Road is a 16 mile unimproved dirt road that runs from a point just a few miles Southeast of Panther Junction on Hwy 118 to River Road East near the Rio Grande.

The backcountry campsites on this road are primarily on the North portion of the road.

To get there, take a right out of the Big Bend National Park Headquarters at Panther Junction and drive approximately 4.5 miles until you see the Glenn Spring Road turn-off on the right.

Glenn Spring Road Map

Click here for a larger topographic view of the road.

The unimproved dirt roads in Big Bend are only maintained for high-clearance vehicles and sometimes require a 4×4 to get through. When we were out here in January of 2014, the road was smooth up until the turn-off to Juniper Canyon Road.

As compared to Old Ore Road, we preferred the campsites off of Glenn Spring Road, due to the views of the Chisos, less dust and easier access. The only problem is that we weren’t the only ones that preferred it. There is much more road traffic in this area.

Don’t forget, before heading out there, you need to get a backcountry use permit prior to using these sites.

Nugent Mountain

Accommodates 3 vehicles and 20 people

(29.257231, -103.152419)

Shortly after entering Glenn Spring Road the road will fork. To the right will be the entrance to Nugent Mountain Campsite and to the left, Glenn Spring Road continues.

Nugent MountainThe Nugent Mountain Campsite is very well maintained, but being the first campsite on Glenn Spring, expect a few looky-loos passing through.

Nugent Mountain Campsite

From this campsite you’ll have nice views of the mountains in most directions, including Nugent Mountain to the West.

Nugent Mountain View

When you’re looking at the map provided by the park, or even the National Geographic Maps that are available for sale at the Park Bookstore, it looks like, as you continue down Glenn Spring Road, that you’ll need to make a hard left to stay on Glenn Spring Road. This is not the case, Pine Canyon road is actually a right off of Glenn Spring. Just keep heading straight to get to the next campsite.

Camp Chilicotal

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 8 people

(29.237766, -103.168683)

Camp Chilicotal doesn’t show up on the copy of the National Geographic Map that I have, nor does it show up on the digital copy of the map on the Park website (I drew it in to the map above with my graphics editing software). It is on the free paper copy provided at the park entrance.  You’ll find it on the left shortly after you pass the turn-off to Pine Canyon Road.

Camp Chilicotal Entrance

This campsite is set a good way off of Glenn Spring Road, so you shouldn’t be too bothered by dust and noise from the traffic.

Chilicotal Road

Being on a hilltop, it’ll be very windy compared to other campsites. Keep this in mind when picking your campsite.

Camp Chilicotal

Rice Tank

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 6 people

(29.230142, -103.166031)

By this campsite there is the remnants of an old tank used to water livestock. There is plenty of vegetation here to mark the location of the tank.

When we were here it looked like they were preparing to do some restoration work on an old stone wall.

Rice Tank

The campsite is well maintained and off the road. There is quite a bit of brush surrounding the area, so wildlife should be abundant.

Rice Tank Campsite

Glenn Spring Campsite #1

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 8 people

(29.174596, -103.158049)

On your way to Glenn Spring Campsite, you’ll pass Juniper Canyon Road (29.191879, -103.171332), after this point the road gets pretty rough. I wouldn’t recommend continuing on if you’re in a low clearance vehicle.

The first Glenn Spring Campsite is actually not on Glenn Spring Road, its about 1/10th of a mile down Black Gap Road, which you’ll see on the right after you pass Juniper Canyon Road. You’re probably not going to make it to this campsite if you don’t have a high-clearance 4×4 with off-road tires.

Black Gap Road Entrance

The picture above doesn’t really give a good perspective of how steep the entrance to Black Gap Road is. If you’re in a two-wheel drive sedan, you’ll probably make it down, but not back up.

After getting to the bottom of the hill, you’ll take a hard left and go through a muddy area (Glenn Spring). Glenn Spring #1 Campsite will be on the right.

Black Gap Road MudDue to the spring being nearby, this campsite is surrounded by thick brush. There are sure to be plenty of furry critters nearby. There will probably be plenty of bugs too. I wouldn’t recommend this site if you have alternatives.

Glenn Spring Campsite 1

Glenn Spring Campsite #2

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 8 people

(29.169279, -103.149649)

If while on Glenn Spring road, you go ahead and pass Black Gap Road, you’ll see some old horse pens on the right.

Horse Pens Glenn Spring Road

You’ll find Glenn Spring Campsite #2 on the right, shortly after the horse pens.

Glenn Spring Campsite 2

This campsite is directly off the road. Although there is less traffic in this area of Glenn Spring Road, when there is, you’ll know it.

Related Posts:

Hiking Big BendPrior to heading out to the backcountry in Big Bend, we recommend throwing a copy of the Trails Illustrated Big Bend Map in your backpack. The map provided at the entrance station is helpful, but not detailed enough for getting off the pavement and out into the boonies. It’s also helpful to have a copy of Hiking Big Bend, by Laurence Parent, if you plan to do any hiking while you’re out there.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam August 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Thank you very much for posting the information along with photos. I’m planning my trip now and your content is coming in handy. Do you think the rougher parts of Glenn Spring Road could be ridden on by bicycle? Mountain bike or cyclocross bike.


Cory August 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Glenn Spring Road should be an easy ride on your mountain bike.

Be careful out there though, it’s extremely hot. This area of the park can easily hit 110 degrees or more this time of year. You’ll need a bare minimum of a gallon of water per day. Remember that when checking the weather for Big Bend, Chisos Basin can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than the lower elevations out by the river.

Have fun out there!


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