I joined Naturalist Journeys‘ Big Bend National Park spring migration birding tour, staying in the Chisos Basin Lodge for 2 nights right after the lodge reopened. The Lodge closed in response to the 1300 acre South Rim fire in order to house hotshot firefighter crews including The Diablos team from Mexico. The cause is being investigated, it is thought to have been due to an illegal campfire from a backcountry camper.
The high elevation trails are still closed as I write this: Emory Peak, Colima, Pinnacles, Boot Canyon, South Rim and Juniper Canyon.
The Window, Lost Mine, Basin Loop, and Laguna Meadow Trails are open. We hiked the Basin Loop, an easy 2-mile stretch, with some shade.
After birding the east and west lower elevation areas (Rio Grande Village and Castolon, respectively) we were able to get into the Basin, elevation approximately 5,000 feet and temperature DIVINE.
From my balcony at The Chisos Basin Lodge I saw mama black bear and 2 older cubs! Later that same night they were seen up in trees, eating leaves. Hence the ginormous answer to the question about what a bear does in the woods. (See photo. That’s my size 9 women’s sneaker for perspective). Rangers believe there are 20-30 black bears living in the basin area, they migrated here from Mexico.
“Bumblefoot” the Greater Roadrunner begged for food in the lodge parking lot. The dining room was closed due to Covid, so everyone was getting boxed meals to share at the picnic tables.
Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited parks in America. It is well worth the effort.