Due to extreme fire danger, Big Bend National Park has closed 11 backpacking sites in the Chisos Mountains. Starting on May 1, the Juniper Flats, Boulder Meadows, and Pinnacles campsites will be closed until further notice. The trail remains open to hiking.
These preemptive closures are provided for within the park’s existing Fire Management Plan and Chisos Basin Evacuation Plan. This time of year typically has very high fire danger, but is even more acute due to the exceptionally high fuel loads, drying winds, low relative humidity, and severe drought conditions which have led to historically high hazard conditions in recent weeks. To date this year, the Chisos Mountains have received 0.26 inches of rain, leaving the dense fuels in this area extremely dry. Based on these fire indices, the probability of ignition for this area is 100%, if exposed to a spark or any other heat source.
The intention of this closure is to limit the hazard exposure to visitors and responders from a fire that starts in the Chisos Basin developed area, with potential to run rapidly upslope, engulfing the Pinnacles Trail and affected campsites. A lack of an alternate evacuation route from this area means these campsites face a particularly high risk in the event of a fire started in the heavily populated areas below.
The park wants to remind visitors that there is a park-wide charcoal ban, and that wood fires are not allowed in the park. Also, in addition to the permanent smoking ban on Chisos trails, a smoking ban has also been enacted for the Chisos Campground area. Smoking is allowed in designated areas around the Chisos Mountain Lodge. The park urges visitors to be extremely careful with any heat source, as any wildland fire in these conditions would spread extremely rapidly.