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Big Bend National Park

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Overview

Big Bend National Park is home to a diverse and varied landscape. The park is known for coal black night skies and the amazing shrine-like fissures that the rivers have carved into the karstic limestone. A land of geological wonder, visitors can explore the rich history of the land and its sea fossils, dinosaur bones, and volcanic dikes that break the desert landscape. The park is also a land of borders - a place where countries and cultures meet and where hundreds of bird species take refuge in the solitary mountain range and determined cactus bloom in the weather-beaten desert. Visitors will enjoy exploring the meandering river corridor of the Rio Grande, the expansive desert floors, and the impressive sky island ridge tops that reach for the stars.

To learn more about Big Bend National Park, visit www.nps.gov.

Local Info

Visitor Centers:
  • Chisos Basin: Open daily from 8:30 am to 4 pm. Closed for lunch. Reduced hours on Christmas day.
  • Panther Junction: Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Reduced hours on Christmas day.
  • Persimmon Gap: Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Closed for lunch.
  • Castolon: Open seasonally from November to April, 10 am to 4 pm. Closed for lunch.
  • Rio Grande Village: Open seasonally from November to April, 8:30 am to 4 pm. Closed for lunch.

Visiting Tips

Big Bend National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Entrance fee stations have variable hours and seasons. Big Bend's busy season is generally November through April, and the park is often full to capacity during Thanksgiving week, Christmas holiday season, and spring break (mid-March). Advance reservations for camping and lodging are highly recommended. To maximize your visit, plan ahead and have a flexible itinerary.

Fees & Passes:
To learn more about park fees, click here.

Camping & Lodging

Camping:
The park operates three developed campgrounds. A limited number of campsites in Rio Grande Village and the Chisos Basin campgrounds are reservable from November 15 to April 15. Reservations may be made up to 180 days in advance by visiting recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Big Bend National Park cannot make reservations. For more information on reservations, click here. The concession-operated Rio Grande Village RV Campground (with full hook-ups) is also located at Rio Grande Village. For reservations call 1-877-386-4383 or 432-477-2293.


Backcountry Camping:
Big Bend has a number of primitive campsites along backcountry roads. While some sites are accessible to most vehicles, a high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary to reach others. Primitive sites offer excellent views, solitude, and a flat gravel space to set up camp next to your vehicle. No shade, toilets, or other amenities are provided. A backcountry use permit is required to camp at any of these sites. More information can be found on the park's website.

Lodging:
The Chisos Mountains Lodge, operated by Forever Resorts, Inc., is located in the Chisos Basin at 5,400 feet elevation. The lodge offers a variety of rooms and cottages, plus a gift shop and dining room. The lodge is open year-round. Reservations can be made online or by calling (877) 386-4383 or (432) 477 2291.

Food & Drink

The Mountain View Restaurant, located in the Chiso Mountain Lodge, provides the only full-service dining inside the park. The restaurant has a grand vista of the basin and surrounding peaks and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Additionally, there are three convenience stores located at the Rio Grande Village, Chisos Basin, and Castolon which carry basic camping supplies and groceries. Two gas stations are located at Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village. For visitors looking for additional dining options, the nearby towns of Terlingua and Study Butte have plenty of options.

Other Activities

With over 100 miles of paved roads, 150 miles of dirt roads, and about 200 miles of trail, Big Bend Nationa Park offers nearly limitless opportunities for scenic driving, hiking, running, camping, backpacking, horseback riding, bird watching, wildlife observation, and stargazing. Additionally, the Rio Grande borders the park for 118 miles providing options for half-day floats to extended excursion by raft, canoe, or kayak. More information on river trips can be found on the park's website. For visitors looking for other opportunities for outdoor recreation outside the park, be sure to check out the nearby options for rock climbing and mountain biking in the area.

Gems in Big Bend National Park - 7

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Gems

gem Favorite Santa Elena Canyon Trail

Santa Elena Canyon Overlook

(57) Lajitas, TX
gem Favorite The Window Trail heading to the main event includes really neat built in steps making this hike fun to crawl over.

The Window

(39) Big Ben…, TX
gem Favorite Balanced Rock is one of the top sunrise hikes! With views to the east the mountains of Sierra del Carmen light up a spectacular purple. Contrasted with the light, bouldered desert landscape it is a sight to behold.

Balanced Rock

(35) Big Ben…, TX
gem Favorite South Rim

South Rim Viewpoint

(22) Big Ben…, TX
gem Favorite Ernst Tinaja

Ernst Tinaja

(18) Big Ben…, TX
gem Favorite Tornillo Creek Meets the Rio Grande

Langford Hot Springs

(24) Big Ben…, TX
gem Favorite Cattail Falls lower pools in December.

Cattail Falls

(2) Big Ben…, TX

Recommended Routes in Big Bend National Park - 17

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Recommended Routes

Favorite Lost Mine Trail looking south down Pine Canyon
Intermediate

Lost Mine Trail

4.6 mi 7.4 km 1,057' Up 322.3 m Up 1,057' Down 322.18 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite The Window Trail heading to the main event includes really neat built in steps making this hike fun to crawl over.
Intermediate

Window Trail

5.6 mi 9.1 km 914' Up 278.58 m Up 914' Down 278.67 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite South Rim overlook, Big Bend Nat'l Park
Difficult

Chisos Mountain Loop

16.8 mi 27.1 km 3,260' Up 993.61 m Up 3,260' Down 993.67 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite Santa Elena Canyon and the Rio Grande
Intermediate

Santa Elena Canyon Trail

1.0 mi 1.5 km 167' Up 50.94 m Up 167' Down 50.96 m Down

Lajitas, TX
Favorite The pristine Boot Canyon stands with Sierra del Carmen in the background.
Difficult

Outer Mountain Loop

31.8 mi 51.1 km 6,453' Up 1966.83 m Up 6,453' Down 1966.96 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite Clouds cleared somewhat for a View of the Window.
Difficult

Emory Peak

9.8 mi 15.7 km 2,427' Up 739.85 m Up 2,428' Down 740.09 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite Balanced Rock is one of the top sunrise hikes! With views to the east the mountains of Sierra del Carmen light up a spectacular purple. Contrasted with the light, bouldered desert landscape it is a sight to behold.
Intermediate

Balanced Rock

2.0 mi 3.1 km 236' Up 71.83 m Up 235' Down 71.78 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite Looking out of Boquillas Canyon near the end of the trail.
Easy/Intermediate

Boquillas Canyon Trail

1.3 mi 2.1 km 121' Up 36.97 m Up 121' Down 36.98 m Down

Big Ben…, TX
Favorite Along the connector trail between the South and North forks of the Marufo Vega Trail
Difficult

Marufo Vega Trail

13.2 mi 21.2 km 2,315' Up 705.62 m Up 2,316' Down 705.8 m Down

Big Ben…, TX

Big Bend National Park Running

  • 328 Miles 528 Kilometers of Trail
  • 17 Recommended Routes
  • 7 Gems Gems
  • 19 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 45 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 4 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Share what you know about this area!

Areas Within Big Bend National Park

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Trails in Big Bend National Park - 51

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Trails

2.1 mi 3.4 km #1Southwest Rim Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate/Difficult
Big Bend National Park, TX
2.8 mi 4.5 km #2Window Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
1.4 mi 2.2 km #3Lower Straw House Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
3.4 mi 5.5 km #4Pinnacles Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX 18 
2.5 mi 4.0 km #5Boot Canyon Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX 14 
1.0 mi 1.6 km #6Cattail Falls
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX 13 
0.7 mi 1.1 km #7Indian Head Trail
Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Easy/Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
4.0 mi 6.4 km #8Laguna Meadow Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX 14 
1.0 mi 1.6 km #9Grapevine Hills Trail
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
Intermediate
Big Bend National Park, TX
0.8 mi 1.4 km #10Santa Elena Canyon Trail
Intermediate
Lajitas, TX
Intermediate
Lajitas, TX

Photos of Big Bend National Park - 300

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Photos

South Rim overlook, Big Bend Nat'l Park
Sep 29, 2015 near Big Ben…, TX
This gem of a rock formation lies just past the large tinaja.
Feb 17, 2017 near Big Ben…, TX
Lost Mine Trail looking south down Pine Canyon
Nov 21, 2017 near Big Ben…, TX
Ernst Tinaja
Sep 29, 2015 near Big Ben…, TX
Balanced Rock is one of the top sunrise hikes! With views to the east the mountains of Sierra del Carmen light up a spectacular purple. Contrasted with the light, bouldered desert landscape it is a sight to behold.
Feb 17, 2018 near Big Ben…, TX
Big Bend's famous Balanced Rock.
Jul 14, 2016 near Big Ben…, TX
Clouds cleared somewhat for a View of the Window.
Nov 20, 2016 near Big Ben…, TX
Cattail Falls lower pools in December.
Dec 29, 2020 near Big Ben…, TX