Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon Big Bend Panoramic

All tours are operated independently of IBRC/NASBR, and organized by generous volunteers. As with all travel, we strongly encourage participants to secure appropriate travel insurance including trip cancellation and travel health insurance.

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Host: Loren K. Ammerman, C. J. Davidson Professor of Biology
Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas

DATES: Tuesday August 02 to Saturday August 06

TRAVEL: Depart from conference hotel at 7am August 02 and return to conference hotel ~6pm on August 06

COST: $875
Maximum: 10 people

2 August (TUES)
Day - Leave Austin 7am to drive to Big Bend National Park,
Night - Net at Glenn Spring

3 August (WED)
Day - Explore the Basin trails (BBNP)
Night - Net at Mariscal Mine or Hot Springs

4 August (THURS)
Day - Explore Terlingua Ghost Town and Santa Elena Canyon
Night - Net at Terlingua Abajo

5 August (FRI)
Day - Birding/Hiking around Rio Grande Village
Night - Net at Ernst Tinaja/Carlotta Tinaja

6 August (SAT)
Day - Leave BBNP 11am to drive to Austin
Relax until NASBR/IBRC social on Sunday evening!


I have been working in this national park for 25 years and am very familiar with the bat fauna and other wildlife, the vegetation, and the netting sites. This is an expansive, remote park with many different habitat types and elevations ranging from the riparian Rio Grande to the pine-oak covered Chisos Mountains peaks. Most netting sites we will visit are about 1-1.5 hour drive from the basin lodging. Sunset is approximately 8:40PM. Some sites require a hike from the cars (most hikes less than 20 minutes). We hope to allow about 1 hour for net and trap setting at each site. The plan is to involve a little excursion each day to let participants see the national park. Each day will be a new experience. Final schedule depends on timing, weather, and what we’ve already caught.

2 August, Tuesday
Leave from Hilton Austin (500 East 4th Street) at 7:00am to begin 9-hr drive to Big Bend (you can sleep in the car!)
Lunch for 1 hr, probably in Fort Stockton, quick grocery stop, and two 15-minute gas/bathroom breaks.
Arrive at Chisos Mountains Lodge (432) 477-2291) in the Basin of Big Bend National Park around 4:00PM
Get settled in rooms, unload perishables,
6:00PM leave for netting site
Bring to-go dinner
Netting at Glenn Spring (~1.5 hr drive)
Good variety of bats, likely to include: Mormoops megalophylla, Antrozous pallidus, Myotis species, free-tails, and Dasypterus xanthinus, great location for harp trapping
Netting activities until midnight. Drive home to lodge. Arrive around 1:30am.

3 August, Wednesday
Breakfast on your own at restaurant, convenience store, or packed food
Plan to explore the Basin trail area (visitor center, hiking trails, Restaurant lunch)
4:00PM leave Basin Lodge for exploring the Hot Springs area and then driving to netting site (possibly net by Hot Springs depending on road conditions to Mariscal Mine)
Bring to-go dinner
Leave Hot Springs by 6:30PM, drive to Mariscal Mine to sightsee, set 2-3 harp traps (Corynorhinus townsendii and Myotis thysanodes emerge from protected mine)
Long drive home (1.75 hr)

4 August, Thursday
Breakfast on your own at restaurant, convenience store, or packed food
2:00 PM leave Basin Lodge to visit Terlingua Ghost Town, eat late lunch in Terlingua
Pack dinner to go
Leave Terlingua early enough (around 4:00 PM) to visit Santa Elena Canyon and hike/explore
Netting at Terlingua Abajo, arrive by 7:00 PM Species present: Euderma maculatum, Myotis velifer, Myotis yumanensis, Aeorestes cinereus, Parastrellus hesperus, several molossids including Eumops perotis, and also hope for a possible red bat in nearby cottonwoods.
Netting activities until midnight. Can visit Yuma Myotis night roost (near Castolon) on the way back to Basin Lodge. Drive home is approximately 1 hour.

5 August, Friday
Breakfast on your own at restaurant, convenience store, or packed food
Plan to explore the Basin trail area (visitor center, hiking trails, Restaurant lunch)
Exact plans will be decided in consultation with participants – my current plan is to leave the Basin Lodge at 4:00pm to visit Boquillas Canyon and Rio Grande Village for hiking and birding before heading to Ernst Tinaja and/or Carlotta Tinaja for netting.  We will close down around midnight and drive back to the lodge (about an hour) in order for drivers to get plenty of sleep before leaving the park the next day.

6 August, Saturday
Breakfast on your own at restaurant, convenience store, or packed food
10:30am check out of rooms, pack vehicles to leave for Austin by 11:00am
Lunch stop in Fort Stockton and gas/bathroom breaks along the way
Arrive at Hilton Austin by 8:00pm (hopefully in time to see Tadarida emerge from Congress Ave bridge!)

COVID-19: All participants will need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  Participants are expected to wear N95 masks at all times during bat handling because of COVID protocols.
RABIES: Participants must show documentation of acceptable rabies titers if they are going to handle bats.
WHITE-NOSE: Participants must follow accepted protocols to prevent the spread of P. destructans among bats by wearing nitrile gloves over leather gloves during bat handling and changing gloves between bats. Calipers and rulers will be disinfected between bats. Holding bags should not be re-used until cleaned with 10% bleach.

Food is not covered by the field trip fee paid. I will have 2 coolers and there will be small refrigerators in the room if you want to keep something cold.  You will have the opportunity to shop for groceries on the way to the park and there is a convenience store next to the lodge. There is also a restaurant and bar nearby with defined hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You will need to be prepared to have non-perishable food/snacks for the afternoon excursions and the nightly netting activities. You also must have at least one liter water bottle with you to refill throughout the day. I will carry water in each vehicle to use for refilling and the park has several refilling stations available.

Bring shoes you want to get wet in, we will be walking in water at most netting sites and it’s usually more rocky than muddy. Some old sneakers would be good. Wellington boots could work but they have gotten torn by the rocks and would of course then leak, also some of the water might be above knee height. Sandals could work but keep in mind that if they're the closed-toe type, little rocks may easily get stuck. We will have room in the vehicles for you to bring a change of shoes so you can decide when we get to a site what will be best for you.
The longest hike we will go on is about 20 minutes unless the group decides that they want to venture farther.

Bring layers!  The weather can vary greatly depending on elevation, time of day, and location in the park. It will hot during the day (80-100°F; 27-38°C) but can be chilly at night (60-70°F; 15-21°C) especially if you get wet.  You might want to bring a cooling cloth or bandana that can be wetted to help keep you cool during the day. Bring a large-brimmed hat and sunscreen – shade is not abundant. The air can be very dry so you might want chapstick to protect your lips. A raincoat would be good to have for the afternoon rain showers that can move through the area at this time of year.
Check the weather before you leave.