Edward Abbey, a leading author, environmentalist and wildlife advocate, once said of Big Bend, “I’d rather be broke down and lost in the wilds of Big Bend, any day, than wake up some morning in a penthouse suite high above the megalomania of Dallas or Houston.”
The stunning rock canyons and open desert areas of Big Bend National Park provide an exceptional camping destination to tourists from around the globe.
As the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States, Big Bend National Park is home to over 1,200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles and more than 75 species of mammals.
The park is also unique in that it manages around 245 miles of the Rio Grande River, the primary boundary between the United States and Mexico.
Frontcountry Big Bend National Park Camping
Big Bend National Park operates three developed campgrounds: Rio Grande Village, Chisos Basin and Cottonwood Campground. All three campgrounds are open year round, with reservations for group sites being taken up to 180 days in advance.
A limited number of campsites in Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin are also available for reservation, and offer some of the best in Big Bend camping.
Rio Grande Village is located adjacent to the Rio Grande at an elevation of 1,850 feet. With over 100 campsites, this cottonwood-filled locale is the largest developed site in the park. The campground has running water, picnic tables, covered shelter and a nearby dump station.
Rio Grande Village also provides four group camp sites that are available only by advance reservation.
Chisos Basin, located at 5,400 feet, offers camping sites at the end of a steep and curvy entry road. This scenic campground features 60 small sites that are not recommended for recreational vehicles.
Running water, grills, flushing toilets and seven group campsites are available at the Chisos Basin.
Located near the Castolon Historic District, the Cottonwood Campground offers 31 campsites, pit toilets, picnic tables, grills and water to visitors. This intimate location also includes one group campsite.
Visitors are not prohibited to camp at developed campsites for more than 14 consecutive nights or for more than 28 nights in a calendar year. The only public showers and laundry facilities in the park are located at the Rio Grande Village store.
Each site costs $14.00 a night and permits can be purchased at visitor centers.
Backcountry Big Bend National Park Camping
For campers that want to “rough-it”, Big Bend also offers camping high in the Chisos Mountains and along numerous dirt roads. Backcountry camping offers a unique experience to visitors, but four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary to access most of these sites.
Overnight camping in any of the primitive road sites requires a backcountry use permit, obtained in person at park visitor centers.
Pure Mountain Bliss While Camping at Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park offers serene solitude to guests looking for a rugged camping experience. Natural beauty is the only real attraction that this vast park needs, but a multitude of other activities make Big Bend a national treasure among outdoor enthusiasts.
Photo by Clinton Steeds