Should "Boot Cabin" In Big Bend National Park Be Replaced?

Is it time for Boot Cabin in Big Bend National Park to be replaced? NPS photo.

Is "Boot Cabin" in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park a fixer upper, or is it beyond any hope of repair? Park officials believe the latter, and want to replace the ranger cabin with a new facility.

The cabin is found along the Boot Canyon Trail near the center of the park's heavily-visited Chisos Mountains.

What's wrong with it?

According to park officials, the "cabin’s floors are not level, its ceiling is too low, the kitchen sink does not function, there is no sanitary wastewater disposal system, and numerous openings allow insects and other nuisance animals to enter the cabin. Additionally, the cabin is not bear-proof. Furthermore, as the cabin is situated along Boot Canyon Trail, its poor condition detracts from the visitor experience."

So the park would like to either raze the facility and build a new cabin in the same location, or replace the cabin and associated corral and storage facilities nearby at the Colima site.

The Colima site is not far from the existing cabin, but to build there would require "ground disturbance and understory tree cutting. This site would provide a central and flat location in the Chisos with adequate space for a new cabin, corral, tool shed, and overflow camping. The site would not be along or visible from a trail, but would require a new trail spur off the Colima Trail for access," according to park officials.

Boot Cabin is used by backcountry rangers, resource managers, trail crews, fire crews, search-and-rescue crews, researchers and more. It also is a staging area for 1-day radio/repeater tower repair on Emory Peak, according to the park. Park staff, Border Patrol agents, Brewster County officials, and others use the radio/repeater tower for emergency communications.

Before they can make a final decision, park officials are developing an environmental review to examine potential effects associated with the proposed project. Public comment on the proposal is being accepted through March 25.

You can learn more about the project, and leave your comments about it, at this site.

Written comments may be sent to: Superintendent, P.O. Box 129, Big Bend National Park, Texas, 79834.

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Comments

Being a regular visitor to BIBE and having carried my backpacking gear by there numerous times. It always confounded me as to its presence. The corral i can understand having in the Chisos. But i'm not particularly fond of it being along Boot Trail. Boot Trail seems to be occupied by a growing bear population. I feel the corral would be better served along the Colima trail. As for a cabin? I think all the above mentioned people who have used the cabin in the past, can sleep on the ground just as i and all visitors who choose to stay up in the Chisos do. Its a moderate hike up and down the Pinnacles trail to the basin were There is a Hotel and restaurant for them to enjoy! Space is limited in the Chisos and i think another cabin would further limit space in the Chisos and take away the solitude and beauty that we backpackers have come to appreciate.

That cabin is an historical building and must be intreperted and preserved!
Unless it has had major reconstruction since the early 1950's or early 1960's then it is old enough to be presreved.
Possibly built by CCC.
As a youth I slept in that cabin with my Dad, Superintendent Lon Garrison, for days on end. We cooked outside and hung our food in a tree because of the mountain lions, but slept inside.
The photo above appears to be the same building that was there way back then.
The floor wasn't level then either. The sink was an old porcelin longer than wide one. Is it still there?
Ya know, maybe the new rangers are just not used to roughing it at the same level as those long ago.
When my husband was stationed at Maverik Ranger Station in 1961, 1962 we lived in a trailer that was in worse shape than the cabin is now.
Shame on the park Historian and Superintendent for not investigating what has gone before.
Who built the cabin? Were the materials local?

I am going to personally track this issue.

Karen Garrison Reyer

You really were more interested in this story, haha!