Nature

Big Bend’s Chisos Basin Reopens After South Rim Wildfire Containment

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The Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park is once again open for adventure and enjoyment, after the South Rim wildfire has mostly been extinguished. The remote high-country fire, roughly 2,000 feet in elevation above the Basin, ignited on April 8 and burned over 1,300 acres. Precautionary evacuations of Basin visitors began, and all access was closed on April 10. However, the buildings and surrounding natural beauty of the flora and fauna of the Basin itself remain unaffected.

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Photo: John Spaulding. Chisos Mountains Sotols at sunrise.

According to a recent National Park Service website update, Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said “We were all worried early in the fire about what harm it might do to the rare plants and animals of the High Chisos, and of course to the infrastructure of the Basin.” He added, “While the evidence of the fire will be visible for years, I expect the vegetation to come back healthier than it was pre-burn.” The cause of the fire is being investigated, but it was most likely started along the South Rim trail, either due to an illegal campfire or a discarded cigarette. The Chisos Basin is currently behind in annual rainfall, but hoped-for summer monsoons are expected to bring relief to the thirsty land.

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Photo: John Spaulding. An evening summer thunderstorm visible through The Window at Chisos Basin.

The newly re-opened hiking spots include the Basin Loop, Window, Lost Mine, and Laguna Meadows trails. Due to their proximity to the fire, the South Rim, Emory Peak, East Rim, Pinnacles, Boot Canyon, Juniper Canyon, and Colima Trails remain closed. The Chisos Mountains Lodge, NPS Visitors Center, store, and campground are among those facilities that have reopened. For the latest information on Lodge availability, call 432-477-2291. For more information and updates on the fires, you can navigate to Inciweb.nwcg.gov. For the latest Big Bend National Park news, you can view www.nps.gov/bibe/index.