Trails at Big Bend National Park back open after storm damage

No employees or visitors were injured during either of these events. The National Park Service will continue to post regular updates through Big Bend’s social media channels.
No employees or visitors were injured during either of these events. The National Park Service...
No employees or visitors were injured during either of these events. The National Park Service will continue to post regular updates through Big Bend’s social media channels.(Courtesy L Benavidez | National Parks Service)
Published: Sep. 4, 2022 at 6:01 PM CDT
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BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas (KOSA) - After a week of storm-related closures, many of Big Bend’s popular dirt roads and a portion of the paved Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive have reopened. In addition, the popular Lost Mine Trail has now partially reopened.

Some low lying areas along the Rio Grande remain closed at this time due to high water and heavy mud.

On the afternoon of Saturday, September 3rd, heavy rains resulted in damage to two popular park attractions.

A section of switchbacks along the Lost Mine Trail collapsed, resulting in heavy damage to that section of trail. The bottom of the switch back was covered in rocks and the top of the switchback was to narrow to safely traverse. This resulted in a closure.

The pavement had broken off and washed away and logs and rocks washed onto the road making it unsafe to travel. The resulting damage and debris closed the road at that point.

The Big Bend National Park road crew has made temporary repairs to a damaged section of pavement along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. That road is now open as far as the Castolon historic area. Cottonwood Campground and the road segment to Santa Elena Canyon remain closed at this time due to standing water and deep mud.

Most of the park’s primitive dirt roads have now dried out enough to support vehicle travel, and have reopened to allow access to backcountry explorations and access to many popular primitive roadside campsites. High-clearance vehicles are required, but four-wheel drive is highly recommended.

Muddy spots remain, and drivers will need to proceed slowly and carefully. The River Road, Hot Springs Road, and Old Maverick Road remain closed for now. The status of park facilities are changing daily. For the latest updates on all park alerts and closures, please check the park’s current conditions webpage.

The park’s trail crew surveyed the damage to the Lost Mine Trail Friday, and have partially reopened the first 3/4 mile of the scenic route. The trail will not completely reopen until further repairs can be made.

Summer rains have also affected the Rio Grande. Rains in the Mexican state of Chihuahua have added considerable water to the network of reservoirs along the Rio Conchos, which flows into the Rio Grande near Presidio, Texas. Mexico is currently releasing water from reservoirs, resulting in significantly increased flows through Big Bend National Park.

Extended high water is expected beginning late this week and extending through the weekend. Park managers are carefully monitoring the river levels and preparing for minor to moderate flooding in low lying areas. Visitors and local residents should be extremely cautious along the Rio Grande and recognize that river levels can change quickly and without notice.

No employees or visitors were injured during either of these events. The National Park Service will continue to post regular updates through Big Bend’s social media channels.