April 21, 2021 326 PM
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK – With the 1,341 acre South Rim Fire at 80 percent containment and no longer deemed a threat to developed areas, the National Park Service has scheduled the reopening of the park’s popular Chisos Basin on Friday, April 23 at 11 a.m. Visitors will once again be able to enjoy the Chisos Mountains Lodge, store, NPS Visitor Center, basin campground, and many popular trails in the Chisos Mountains. This area has been closed to entry since Saturday, April 10, due to the wildfire which began along the remote South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.
“After two weeks of closures, we are glad to be able to open up access to the basin, so visitors can enjoy one of Big Bend’s most picturesque areas,” said Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
Hiking trails that will reopen on Friday include the Window Trail, Lost Mine Trail, Basin Loop Trail, Laguna Meadows Trail, Blue Creek Trail and Dodson Trail.
The South Rim Fire is not yet out. Hotspots remain and some smoke still lingers. For visitor safety, and to allow fire personnel to assess and begin rehabilitation of the burned areas, the South Rim, Emory Peak, and associated trails will remain closed until further notice. The NPS reminds park users that entry into closed areas is unsafe and unlawful.
Areas and trails that remain closed are the Pinnacles Trail, Emory Peak Trail, South Rim Trail, East Rim Trail, Boot Canyon Trail, Juniper Canyon Trail and Colima Trail.
Backpacking campsites along the Laguna Meadows and Blue Creek Trails will reopen on Monday, April 26. Backcountry Permits are required and may be obtained online at www.recreation.gov.
“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 in the basin,” said Krumenaker. The superintendent flew over the fire on Monday and felt “very good about what I have seen,” he said. “The burn pattern is like a mosaic, with more lightly burned areas than intensively burned areas. While the evidence of fire will be visible for years, I expect the vegetation to come back healthier than it was pre-burn. We don’t expect any significant impact on wildlife.”
“And of course, the firefighters, the terrain, and the weather collaborated to keep the fire away from the developments in the basin. It’s probably going to be a few weeks before the last smoke is out, and there are hazards which need to be mitigated before we can allow public use back in the fire zone. But that’s coming soon. I am very grateful to the entire interagency team that worked on this fire along with the Big Bend National Park staff,” Krumenaker said.