Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Backcountry Camping: Grapevine Hills Road – Big Bend

in Big Bend National Park Backcountry Camping

If you’re looking for a good backcountry camping spot in Big Bend National Park, but still want to be near Chisos Basin and park headquarters at Panther Junction, Grapevine Hills Road is a good option.

You can get to the turn-off to Grapevine Hills Road by taking a left out of Panther Junction and driving just past the left turn to Chisos Basin, then taking the first dirt road on the right.

There are five designated backcountry campsites on this road.

Grapevine Hills Topo Map

Click here for a larger, more detailed, version of the topographic map.

Grapevine Hills #1

Accommodates 3 vehicles and 20 people

The first campsite has a roadside marker calling it Government Springs. It is also considered Grapevine Hills #1 Campsite. (29.340987, -103.255334)

Government Springs Marker off of Grapevine Hills Road

This site is fairly large, but may be difficult to get some RVs into, due to the tight turn-around.

Grapevine Hills Campsite 1

 

Grapevine Hills #2 

(29.377838, -103.221016)

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 6 people and adjoins Campsite #3

They also sit just off the road and may get a little dusty due to Grapevine Hills Road being a busy route to Grapevine Hills Trail.

Grapevine Hills Campsite 2

Grapevine Hills #3 

(29.378135, -103.221143)

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 6 people and adjoins Campsite #2

Grapevine Hills Campsite 3

Once you pass these two sites, you’ll start getting close to Grapevine Hills Trail. If you want to hike it, just pull off in the parking area at the trailhead (29.410465, -103.207611).

As you can see its a busy trail.

Grapevine Hills Trailhead

After this parking area the road gets a little more rough. The benefit to that and the fact that the trail and parking area are behind you is that campsites 4 and 5 receive far less traffic.

Both sites sit in a cul-de-sac at the end of the road.

Grapevine Hills #4

(29.407292, -103.191925)

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 6 people

Grapevine Hills Campsite 4

Grapevine Hills #5 

(29.407495, -103.191853)

Accommodates 2 vehicles and 6 people

Grapevine Hills Campsite 5

As you can see in the aerial photograph below, campsite #4 is in the turn-around to get back down the road. Anybody that comes down here will be kicking up dust on your tent. Campsite #5 is in a great spot though, being a dead end. If you were inclined, you could block the path to the campsite with your vehicle and get plenty of privacy. The heavy brush surrounding the site adds to the seclusion.

Aerial View Sites 4 and 5Grapevine Hills Road is a good spot for some backcountry camping if you don’t mind the busy area and want to stay close to civilization with Chisos Basin and Panther Junction just a short drive down the road. If you’re looking for solitude, this is probably not the area for you.

The road is well maintained up to the parking area for Grapevine Hills Trail, so if you have a low clearance vehicle you shouldn’t have too many problems, just take it easy in the dips. We don’t recommend going any further though without a more rugged vehicle.

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

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.

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