National Park Cliff Notes: Big Bend – Texas


Big Bend is the biggest secret you’ve never heard about.

Located in western arm of Texas, the park borders Mexico along a 100 mile (160 km) arc in the Rio Grande, hence the name, Big Bend. There are three distinct ecological regions in the park. The craggy yet forested Chisos Mountains are at the center of the park. The Chihuahuan Desert fans out from the Chisos foothills in all directions, and the winding Rio Grande to the south provides a densely vegetated river riparian zone.


Big Bend Loc

Must See:

Drive up into the Chisos Mountains and take a hike with a southern view to get a lay of the land.


Off the Beaten Path:

Consider backcountry car camping off the 51 mile (82 km) River Road. 4WD is required. Expect to share the road with US Border Patrol.


Next Time:

The best views in the park are along the 12 mile (19 km) South Rim Trail which strafes the southernmost Chisos Mountains. An overnight rafting trip on the Rio Grande through the steep and winding Santa Elena Canyon sounds like an adventure too.



Take a ferry across the border to the town of Boquillas, Mexico for tacos y cervezas. The border crossing is open Wed – Sun from 9am – 6pm. 


For more information on my visit, check out my post.


Park Information:

National Park Service


Google Maps



Wildflowers off River Road.

River Road.


Chisos Mountains

Mariscal Mine.


Fresno Campsite.

Soft sunset.


Hot springs on the Rio Grande.

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