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Our Big Guide To Big Bend National Park

by Hope Harris
Sunset at The Window in Big Bend National Park

Sunset at The Window in Big Bend National Park on January 3, 2022. Photo by Peter Stringer for Amazing America.

Visiting Big Bend National Park is the best thing to do in west Texas and will be a memorable experience you’ll never forget. Big Bend is a must-see national park if you’re a travel enthusiast and love to get out and explore earth’s natural creations.

Here’s what you should know when planning a trip to this breathtaking national park.

Brief History of Big Ben National Park

Big Bend was established as a national park on June 12, 1944 and remains the largest and oldest national park in the state of Texas. Located in the southwestern region of Texas along the borders of Mexico and New Mexico, this extraordinary national park protects around 800 acres of irreplaceable and historic Chihuahuan desert.

Visitors are mesmerized by the geological structures and amazing features of this national park that dates back to millions of years ago. Big Bend National Park is also home to over a thousand species of plants, hundreds of bird species, and vegetation all along the Rio Grande River. This national park was ultimately established to preserve the 1,252 square miles of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology located in the southwest region of Texas.

Five Things To Do in Big Bend National Park

Hike the Stunning Trails

Big Bend National Park has over 150 miles of hiking trails. Most of the popular trails are located in the Chisos Mountains but there are also several hiking trails in the desert and along the Rio Grande River.

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If you only have enough time or want to hike just one trail, I would highly recommend the Lost Mine Trail. This trail is a moderate level uphill hike with breathtaking views at the peak.

The Fossil Discovery Museum Exhibit

On the drive down, stop and learn about the area’s natural history and geology features in the park. There are even informative plaques and fossils on display of a giant alligator and dinosaur!

Soak in the Hot Springs

The most relaxing thing to do in the Rio Grande Village area is to soak in one of the natural hot springs. If you get too hot sitting in the 105-degree-Fahrenheit water, you can take a dip in the cooling Rio Grande River.

Canoe in the Rio Grande

Sanat Elena Canyon - Big Bend National Park

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The Rio Grande River winds along the border of Mexico and Santa Elena Canyon. Paddling through the canyon surrounds you in nature and is an amazing adventure you won’t ever forget.

Watch the Sunset over the Window

The Window View Trail is a short and paved quarter-mile path that has amazing views for watching beautiful Texas sunsets. Watching the sunset in the mountains is truly a breathtaking experience.

Where to Stay in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is a massive park and takes a considerable amount of time to get around. Accommodations in the park are available by camping or staying at the Chisos Lodge. There are also hotels and resorts you can stay at in nearby towns.

Chisos Lodge

This lodge is located inside the park in the Chisos Basin. This motel-style lodge offers amazing views of the national park with trails conveniently located right outside your room.

Camping in Big Bend

There are several developed campgrounds located right inside the park, whether you plan on staying in an RV or pitching a tent. Camping grounds require reservations and tend to book up quickly during the busy seasons which are typically November-April. You’ll absolutely love camping out under the stars surrounded in a peaceful nature setting.

Hotel Accommodations in Nearby Towns

The Gage Hotel in Marathon is a luxury property with quaint rooms, a beautiful pool, spa, and restaurant. Marathon is a charming small town recommended for people arriving from the east and north from cities in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

Lajitas Golf Resort is in the small town of Lajitas and is an incredible resort to stay at on the west side of Big Bend National Park. This resort will make you feel as you’re in an oasis with beautiful greenery and scenic views. Features of this resort include large suites, an 18-hole golf course, fitness center, lovely pool, restaurants, and elegant furnishings. This is the perfect resort to stay if you’re wanting to unwind and relax, while still remaining near Big Bend National Park.

What to Bring When Exploring Big Bend

Big Bend National Park is in a pretty secluded area so it’s important to come prepared. Here is a list of important things that should be on your packing list.

  • Water bottles or jugs (You will be able to re-fill bottles at every camp or visitor site)
  • Clothing to protect you from the sun such as hats, sunglasses, visors, etc.
  • Sunscreen, extremely important when outside for many hours
  • Comfortable and appropriate shoes for walking and hiking
  • Healthy snacks to eat on the trails throughout the day
  • Camera for capturing the stunning views
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Bring your passport if you plan on crossing the border to Mexico when visiting Big Bend National Park.

Best Times to Visit Big Bend National Park

The best and most popular time to visit Big Bend National Park is in the fall and spring when the temperature will be mild. Texas has very hot summers, so you won’t be as comfortable if you’re hiking trails in the desert during the summertime.

Temperatures in the fall and spring in west Texas typically range between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit, not too hot for long hikes and exploring the desert and not too cold for camping under the stars.

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Big Bend tends to be the most crowded during the times of Spring Break, Thanksgiving weekend, and during the Christmas holiday.

If you want to avoid going to the national park during its busiest times, try to plan around these holiday events. But no matter what time you plan to visit Bid Bend National Park, you’re going to fall in love with being out in the desert and mountains surrounded by nature.

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