Big Bend National Park is part of the vast Chihuahuan Desert that extends from Central Mexico into Southern New Mexico. This culturally rich area is known for being rugged and remote. While these features are part of what draws many visitors to the area, they are also the top two reasons why you should plan your trip in great detail.
Getting to Know Big Bend
Big Bend National Park is separated by Mexico for over 244 miles by the Rio Grande. The park is bounded by a large bend in the Texas-Mexico border and this bend is the origin of the park’s name.
Big Bend National Park protects and preserves 801,000 acres of land in the State of Texas. There are 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals, 3,600 species of insects and more than 1,200 species of plants protected within the park’s boundaries.
Throughout the park archaeologists have discovered artifacts, cave drawings and ancient structures that are estimated to be over 9,000 years old.
The weather in Big Bend offers stark contrasts and can be quite unpredictable. Temperatures can reach more than 110 degrees in the summer, but the temperature can drop rapidly in literally just a matter of minutes. It is important to adjust your clothing accordingly and plan for the unexpected. Winters are generally mild, but sub –zero temperatures are possible.
Where to Stay
Lodging options in Big Bend run the gamut from rustic motels to a luxurious resort property to charming guest houses. Guests also have the option to camp in one of the park’s developed campgrounds or venture into the wilderness to one of the back road sites.
The Chisos Mountain Lodge offers sensational views, easy access to hiking trails and is the only hotel actually located inside the park.
Terlingua, Ghost Town and Study Butte are three neighboring communities. They are home to many comfortable accommodations and are in close proximity to the western entrance of the park. Notable lodging options include the Terlingua Ranch Resort, Big Bend Holiday Hotel, Chisos Mining Company Hotel and La Posada Milagro.
Lajitas is located on the Rio Grande and sits between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. Home to the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa, this attractive locale features luxurious guest rooms and modern amenities.
If you choose not to stay near the park, Marathon and Alpine offer various lodging options just a short drive away.
What to Eat
Culinary hot spots can be found in each of the towns surrounding Big Bend National Park. From Mexican food to Italian fare, dining at one of the unique eateries in the area is a real treat for guests. Some of the most popular local haunts include:
- The Starlight Theater and Restaurant (Terlingua),
- Kathy’s Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe (Terlingua),
- La Kiva (Terlingua),
- Candelilla Café (Lajitas),
- Ocotillo Restaurant (Lajitas); and
- Chisos Mountain Lodge (Big Bend Park).
What to Do
Big Bend offers activities for every age and desire. From hiking and canoeing to bird watching or horseback riding, visitors have no problem staying busy. Inclusive tours are a great option for visitors that want to visit Big Bend, but aren’t sure where to start. Treks West Tours offers a tour package that includes stops at all of the “can’t miss” attractions in the park.
Riding the river is one of the most exciting activities in the park. Several companies offer trained guides that will help you make the most of your river adventure. River outfitters include all the equipment needed to explore the canyons of the Rio Grande.
Hiking trails offer guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with the desert landscape. Many trails are marked and include skill level recommendations. Guides are also available to help navigate the vast terrain.
Other activities available to guests include:
- Vehicle Tours,
- Helicopter Tours; and
- Shopping Opportunities.
There is more to see and do in Big Bend than can be done in a lifetime. The key to a successful trip is to plan around your activities and remember to have fun!