We recently checked Big Bend off of our Texas bucket list. It was so stunning, but 8 hours from Dallas and not near any major city, it can be a daunting trip... so we're breaking it down in this 101 guide!
Updated January 2022
Big Bend became a national park in 1944 and sits in West Texas on the Mexican border. It offers the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology, and there’s more than 150 miles of trails, four campgrounds, 100 miles of paved roads and lots of backcountry space (permit required).
WHEN TO GO
The best months to go are March and April because the wildflower and desert plants are in bloom, and weather is milder! There's no better time to enjoy the great outdoors at this park.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Santa Elena Canyon: Carved out by the Rio Grande to make for a dramatic and breath-taking scene .
Ross Maxwell Drive: At 31 miles, you’ll cover a lot of ground, and see some points of interest like Mule Ears Overlook.
Hot Springs: Take a dip in these 105 degree pools on the edge of the Rio Grande river.
Fossil Discovery Center: Learn more about the fossils scattered all over the area.
Star Gazing: Make sure to look up at night, to see the stars - we even saw the Milky Way.
Go canoeing, rafting or horseback riding, take guided hikes, and enjoy geology or wildlife tours. There are so many incredible ways to explore the beauty of this expansive area, and they're great opportunities to make memories!
Road trip for 8 hours or fly into Midland and drive 5. Either way, you’ll need a car! If you’d rather stay in the nearby town of Marfa, it’s a 1.5 hour drive to the park from there. For the stay in Marfa, we've rounded up the best restaurants and activities for you. And we HIGHLY recommend driving through the Big Bend State Park on your way in or out of the National Park!
TIPS FOR ENJOYING THE PARK
Big Bend is massive, and you will need a car to explore all of it. We downloaded the “Just Ahead” app, which offers guided audio tours of National Parks, including Big Bend! Don't forget to bring snacks and water because there are very few spots to stop.
WHERE TO STAY
You can camp or park an RV and stay in either the Park’s lodge, the tiny town of Terlingua, or at a variety of glamping locations. Some highly recommended spots include Cilbo Creek Ranch, Luxe Glamping at The Local Chapter, or a modern escape at Willow House.