By Robert Earle Howells

Outer Mountain Loop

When to Go: October to May

Round-Trip: 30 Miles, 3 Days

Level: Moderate Backpacking Trip

Big Bend is all about a sense of vastness: Hundred-mile views sweep across the hills, arroyos, and mesas of the Chihuahuan Desert with nary a sign of civilization. No place delivers a sense of the park’s enormity—and solitude—better than the high country of the Chisos Mountains. This three-day, two-night hike climbs into and traverses the south rim of the range, where you can stand in the shade of big maples, cypress, oaks, and ponderosa pines and view the austere beauty of the desert far below.

Insider Tip: Cache water in advance at Blue Creek Canyon so you only have to carry two days’ worth of liquid.

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